Facing Crackdown, Eastern Libya Militias Take to Desert

Plan to Wait Out 'Ultimatum' by Military

Ansar al-Sharia Benghazi (ASB) lost their headquarters in Benghazi to attackers on Friday. In other towns, they simply vanished without a trace, as they and others took their gear, heading to the desert to wait out the ongoing crackdown.

The regime demanding over the weekend that the militias of the country all put themselves under direct military control or disband outright, and many are taking option 3: pretending to disband and just moving out of the military’s reach.

In practice the order was never going to work, as the major militias have routinely trounced the military in clashes over the past year whenever the military has moved against one of them. Those with good relationships with the current government will be untouched, nominally under regime control. Only smaller militias, poorly armed and on the margins, are facing a real threat.

Having the Salafist militias simply leave instead of fighting may allow the government to save face, keeping their order in place without starting another civil war which they might not win.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.