Rival Militias in Libya Wage Turf Battles, Defy Interim Government

Widespread criminality and defiant armed gangs destabilize the newly-formed post-Gadhafi country

Rival militias about 10 miles west of Libya’s capital clashed violently over the weekend, ending with the death of one local official and the destruction of a militia base to rubble.

Libya’s new government has still not been able to assert control over the country, as armed gangs and militias – formerly America’s freedom fighters – defiantly wage turf wars and destabilize the new interim government a mere two months after Mummar Gadhafi’s death.

In this particular incident, Ashraf Abdelsalam Al-Marni Swayha, deputy head of the Janzour military council, drove up to a checkpoint being manned by rebel fighters from Zintan who played a large role in ousting Gadhafi.

At the checkpoint, Swayha told the fighters that he was deputy head of the local militia. “They answered him: ‘We do not care about the Janzour military council.’ He ordered his driver to go and they started shooting at him,” head of the local council in Janzour, Abdelnasser Frandah said.

The gangs and militias are heavily armed and peppered throughout the country, determined to assert their own local control and defy the new post-Gadhafi government.

Further destabilizing for Libya’s road to democracy propagandized about by the rebels’ American backers is the serious delinquency and war crimes committed by many of these groups. To boot, former Libyan fighters are still holding up to 7,000 prisoners without charge or trial and the illicit arms trade is causing problems in and around Libya.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.