Libya defense minister quits as “militias” blockade gov’t offices
posted at 10:41 am on May 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
While the House Oversight Committee prepares to hear testimony from three whistleblowers that may expose a cover-up in the Obama administration, the Libyans have their own problems after the “liberation” provided by Barack Obama and NATO’s air campaign. After a blockade of government offices in the capital of Tripoli by armed “militias” for more than a week, the defense minister resigned today in capitulation to their demands:
Libya’s defense minister resigned as gunmen extended their siege of ministries in Tripoli for a second day, demanding the government’s resignation and tougher rules to bar Muammar Qaddafi-era officials from state jobs.
Mohammed Al-Barghathi, a fighter pilot during the Qaddafi era, quit because of events during the past two days, the official Libya News Agency reported, without giving further details. On May 5, Libya’s parliament passed the so-called Isolation Law, which bars from office senior officials who served under Qaddafi for at least 10 years. The law comes into effect on June 5.
Militiamen with machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons began blockading the Foreign and Interior ministries on April 28, demanding that parliament pass the law. The siege was raised on May 5, then resumed and extended to other ministries after gunmen rejected the measure.
Libya is mired in unrest two years after the ouster of Qaddafi, with militias across the country refusing to disarm and Islamists on the rise in the oil-producing east. The ability of the gunmen to lay siege to state institutions highlights the weakness of the central government and its security forces.
In other words, the central government is being held hostage to “militias” in its own capital. What does that tell us about their ability to enforce their writ in the rest of Libya? If they can’t even clear the streets to protect their own institutions in Tripoli, then Libya has become a failed state.
And just who are these “militias,” anyway? Bloomberg doesn’t say, but it suffices to point out that even the Muslim Brotherhood party in the legislature supported the Isolation Law. That means the militias in play here are more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood. Who might those be?
Let’s take a look in Benghazi:
The Ansar al Sharia Brigade, the Islamist terror group linked to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, continues to operate freely in that Libyan city, according to U.S. military officials.
The group remains active in the Mediterranean port city, operating patrols and checkpoints, and earlier this year reached an agreement with other Islamist groups allowing it to operate openly, said military officials familiar with intelligence reports from North Africa.
The group “continues to spread its ideology in the Benghazi area, particularly targeting youth,” said one official, who noted that the lack of central government security was the key reason the militia has not been suppressed.
This is what happens when you decapitate a dictatorial regime in North Africa without having boots on the ground. It’s why we ended up losing our consulate in Benghazi last September in a well-coordinated series of attacks that left four Americans dead. It’s why al-Qaeda nearly seized control of Mali, which took a French invasion to roll back. And it’s why the Obama administration wanted to tell practically any other story rather than the truth last September, as I wrote today in my column at The Week, which is worth mentioning again even after my previous post:
The administration’s intervention in Libya created a power vacuum in eastern Libya, which it refused to acknowledge, and which eventually led not just to this attack but the near-sacking of Mali, which was prevented only by the French military. Instead, State under Clinton reduced the security at this outpost while our allies fled the city, even while nearby terrorist attacks increased. No one in State or the White House prepared for the obvious al Qaeda interest in attacking vulnerable American assets on the anniversary of 9/11. When the inevitable happened, rather than putting all our assets in play to fight the terrorists, the first impulse of Obama and Clinton seems to have been to deny that a terrorist attack had taken place at all as a means of covering up the gross incompetence of the past year in Libya.
Had the Obama administration told the truth last year, Obama probably still would have won the election; most voters weren’t that concerned about Benghazi itself. The attempt to cover up the attack and silence witnesses that finally get to speak out this week will do a lot more damage now and in the future to Obama and Hillary Clinton than the truth would have created last fall. But the real damage will last for years in the failed state Obama and Clinton created in North Africa.
Update: Al-Bargathi has rescinded his resignation, but the Isolation Law will mean he’s out of a job eventually, anyway. Meanwhile, his Defense Ministry can’t even defend the street of its own headquarters.