In “liberated” Libya, violence is on the rise as militias attack one another on a regular basis and seemingly everyone accuses everyone else of being a Gadhafi ally. Arrest, in this environment, often means open-ended detention without charges. And torture.
Nominally under the control of the US and NATO-backed National Transitional Council (NTC), this new Libya is a nation awash in arms and grudges, the product of an ugly civil war and an international community that seems determined to throw its weight behind any interested party still alive on the ground.
In one instance, a knife fight at a market between two men from neighboring towns culminated in the massing of troops and the kidnapping and torture death of an uninvolved resident of one of the towns. His wife has just given birth the day before. Each side claims the other are pro-Gadhafi fighters.
Western diplomats are shrugging off the problems as a “country coming down off a victory high.” But Libyans don’t trust their new interim government and mass protests are breaking out against the brand-new regime.
The NTC is looking to placate the public with a few token resignations, but the issue goes well beyond the unpopularity of a few late-in-the-game defectors from the old regime. The protests against the Gadhafi regime began with the hope of a free country, and the realization that the NTC commandeered their revolution — possibly replacing one tyrant with another — is not something that can be easily tamped down.