On October 23, Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) declared the country liberated and the transition to a post-Gaddafi state officially underway. Over the following week, we’ve seen the first of what I expect will be many stories about tensions and conflict among the groups over whom the TNC is claiming authority. Here’s the opening to one such story, from today’s Washington Post:
Libya has emerged from its civil war with more than 300 militias and no political consensus on forming a national army, raising concerns that irregular, gun-toting groups could become entrenched and pose a long-term challenge to the government, officials here said. On Monday, Libyan leaders began to establish a new interim government with the authority to create the armed forces, choosing the technocratic Abdurrahim el-Keib as prime minister. But the militiamen who won the eight-month war have made it clear that they will not submit meekly to the new civilian authorities.
The plan was simple, Essam said. Gaddafi had distributed a lot of guns to the people of this neighbourhood. The rebels would go from house to house, search for weapons and detain wanted fugitives. Three units were to conduct this operation, one from Misrata, one from Essam’s Freemen of Libya unit, and the local rebel military council of Abu Salim. The Misratans, experienced and well-equipped, had a reputation as ruthless fighters who didn’t trust anyone else. Essam’s unit respected them but didn’t really like them, and both the Misratans and the Freemen mistrusted the local rebels of Abu Salim. “They became rebels after Tripoli was liberated,” said one of Essam’s men, smirking.
Two people died from bullet wounds and at least seven fighters were injured during a battle that started when militia from the town of Zintan were stopped by guards from the Tripoli Brigade from entering the city’s Central Hospital to kill a patient.