As could be easily predicted, the NATO-led overthrow of the Libyan government risks to push the country into the depths of bloody chaos. While prominent human rights groups keep reporting severe violations by the rebel forces, it has turned out that many of the local militia leaders are abandoning the promise to give up their weapons even after the death of Col. Gaddafi. According to their claims, militia commanders are intending to preserve their autonomy as “guardians of the revolution”. Without any doubt the presence of such “guardians” will hardly help to bring peace and stability to the troubled region. Once again an attempt of the so-called “democratization” violently conducted by the US and its NATO allies has led to some extremely bitter results.
The questionable activities of the Libyan rebels have become a subject of concern of Human Rights groups a long time ago. While the Gaddafi army was the one to blame for severe violations of human rights, the reports of such organizations as Amnesty International managed to break this stereotype. The leaders of Libya’s new government – National Transitional Council are describing their goals as an intention to build a modern democratic state, based on the values of “moderate” Islam. However the documented involvement of the Libyan militia in killings, abductions and torture hardly meets the standards of a democratic state.
Now the issue of the militias has become one of the most serious challenges that Libya’s new provisional government is facing. Lots of independent brigades have spread around the country, creating an escalating threat of the internecine confrontations.
While the NTC leader Mohammed al-Alagi is promising that his government will never tolerate any extremist ideology, the actions of the militia brigades question this statement.
“We are a Muslim nation, with a moderate Islam, and we will maintain that. You are with us and support us – you are our weapon against whoever tries to hijack the revolution,” says al-Alagi. However the self-proclaimed “guardians of the revolution” may have their own ideas about who would be the next to blame for “hijacking the revolution”.
This idea is fully backed by the Amnesty International report, entitled “The Battle for Libya – Killings, Disappearances and Torture”.
“Opposition fighters and supporters have abducted, arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed former members of the security forces, suspected Gaddafi loyalists, captured soldiers and foreign nationals wrongly suspected of being mercenaries fighting on behalf of Gaddafi forces,” says the report.
The rebel authorities seemed to find a loophole to avoid the accusations of war crimes. “They are not the military, they are only ordinary people,” said al-Alagi about the militia brigades. Now even the new government has to admit it has a problem with the uncontrollable militia units.
“Nobody wants to give up arms now, and many tribes and cities are accumulating arms ‘just in case,’ ” said Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the council’s executive board.
“This could lead to a mess, to conflict between the councils,” says Ramadan Zarmoh, a leader of the Misurata military council, claiming that the city’s militia should disband itself almost immediately after a new defense ministry is formed. “If we want to have democracy, we can’t have this.”
However, militia leaders have clearly demonstrated not only their unwillingness to give up arms but also a strong intention to take part in the political process. Local leaders in Misurata have already threatened to intervene in the appointment of a new prime minister. If the situation continues to develop at this rate, Libya risks being dragged down to the brink of another civil war – even more chaotic and bloody than the previous one.
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