As Benghazi Scandal Builds, Libya Falls Apart
Here are some of the current developments in Libya, where a recent article in the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram explains that “militias at the command of various ideological camps and rival interest groups” increasingly dominate the country’s politics:
-- “Since last week, the ministries of foreign affairs, justice and the interior in Libya have been under siege by armed militias demanding [passage of a] law that would ban all associates of the former regime from positions in government.”
-- There was a recent terrorist attack on the French embassy in Tripoli.
-- “As though the situation were not fraught enough, more than 100 policemen stormed the Ministry of Interior headquarters … where they began an open-ended sit-in to press previously voiced demands for adequate protection for the police in the course of the performance of their duties, health insurance, better job and pay conditions, and the restoration of the prestige and full rights of policemen.”
-- “The following day … other militia bands stormed the Ministry of Finance located in downtown Tripoli and began to assault the guards. These quickly withdrew in order to avoid a confrontation with their attackers.”
-- "A band of armed men attacked a Ministry of Justice police vehicle that was transporting prisoners and three escort vehicles.” One prisoner was killed and several others were severely injured during the attack.
--On May 13 a car bomb exploded near Benghazi's main hospital killing at least 13 people.
-- Prime Minister Ali Zeidan warned: “If the violence and security breakdown continue, the international community may be compelled to intervene.”
-- Despite Zeidan’s threats, the militias are not scared.
-- The Birka police station in downtown Benghazi was struck by a massive explosion that destroyed the building.
-- In southern Libya, Chadian forces advanced 100 kilometers into Libyan territory without even encountering the Libyan armed forces. As al-Ahram remarks: “The incursion further throws into relief Libya’s weak security at a time when neither the army nor the militias are capable of controlling the country’s far-flung borders. ... Yet, it appears that the militias nevertheless have the upper hand. They are better armed than the government forces and they are also said to possess sophisticated eavesdropping equipment which they use to spy on government officials.”
-- As a result of the violence, the German embassy has suspended operations. British Petroleum has evacuated non-essential personnel.
What does this mean: that NATO will return to shore up the regime it put into power? The UN resolution permitting intervention in Libya is still operative. But one additional element of the Benghazi cover-up is that it allowed the U.S. government to ignore the serious state of Libyan security.
Remember: the Libyan operation was another of President Obama’s supposed successes that must be made to seem triumphant during the 2012 election.