Libyan Militias Respond to President’s Order to Disband
Following mass protests, Libyan President Mohamed al-Magarief ordered any militia that does not fall under the government’s authority to disband within 48 hours, an action praised by Secretary Hillary Clinton. The militias have responded in opposition to the order by issuing arrest warrants for members of the Libyan security forces. David Kirkpatrick reports that many militias continue to offer civil services despite opposition to democracy and their ardent support for Islamic fundamentalism. Meanwhile, Frederic Wehrey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes that it is not clear whether militias are “amenable to political integration” given the existence of more militant groups “that oppose democracy.”
Amnesty International issued a press release highlighting al-Magarief’s acknowledgement of the “need to disarm militias, reform the security sector, and revamp the judiciary” in light of continued human rights violations by some of the more radical groups. Ranj Alaadin points to the fact that confrontation with militias will only drive them underground at a time when their influence in local communities is desperately needed by the state’s weak security forces.