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.


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Unexpectedly!

Washington Nearsider on May 7, 2013 at 10:44 AM

How do you like your dose of Lean Forward, Libyans? Right into the mass grave.

Good job, Preznit Smart Power.

Bishop on May 7, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Whats the difference….h clinton……

crosshugger on May 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

“This is some rescue. When you came in here, didn’t you have a plan for getting out?” -Average Libya citizen
“He’s the brains, sweetheart!” -Hillary, pointing at Barack

Chris of Rights on May 7, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Well, this is going much better than expected, isn’t it?

hawkeye54 on May 7, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Who might those be?

Clearly tea party… Err. LIBYAN tea party.

Gatsu on May 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

How do you like your dose of Lean Forward, Libyans? Right into the mass grave.

Good job, Preznit Smart Power.

Bishop on May 7, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Samantha Powers takes a bow !

Jabberwock on May 7, 2013 at 10:52 AM

One stupid step for Obama…

One giant leap for Jihad.

coldwarrior on May 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

“This is some rescue. When you came in here, didn’t you have a plan for getting out?” -Average Libya citizen
“He’s the brains, sweetheart!” -Hillary, pointing at Barack

Chris of Rights on May 7, 2013 at 10:49 AM

“Into the garbage chute, no-fly-zone-boy” – (pointing at Barack)

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on May 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

And once again, we see why a POTUS must have Congress on board when going to war.

Had Congress given its imprimatur, they too would be on the hook for this mess, and would be under pressure to fix it. But, no. Team Liar and President Gutsy Call just had to do it on their own.

And now, the music has stopped, and they are the ones without a chair…

JohnGalt23 on May 7, 2013 at 10:57 AM

I note Ms. Power hasn’t been heard from lately.

R2P = R2FU

PattyJ on May 7, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Because Chaos is Progressive…

Lean Forward!

workingclass artist on May 7, 2013 at 10:59 AM

So this was another war for oil,right?

docflash on May 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM

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.

Are we even sure that that wasn’t the intended consequence?

1) Allow radical muslims to come to power.
2) Be able to blame riots and attacks on a video no one’s seen
3) Get on board the muslim push for a UN treaty that outlaws blasphemy
4) Get rid of the First Amendment, along with the Second etc., which are part of a charter of negative rights anyhow.

rbj on May 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Legacy baby

cmsinaz on May 7, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Take heart, Libyans because this situation was brought to you by a dude who won a Nobel Peace Prize, that’s worth something, right?

Bishop on May 7, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Are we even sure that that wasn’t the intended consequence?

1) Allow radical muslims to come to power.
2) Be able to blame riots and attacks on a video no one’s seen
3) Get on board the muslim push for a UN treaty that outlaws blasphemy
4) Get rid of the First Amendment, along with the Second etc., which are part of a charter of negative rights anyhow.

Hmmm, looks about right.

hawkeye54 on May 7, 2013 at 11:11 AM

And dear leader went around Congress for this boondoggle didn’t he

cmsinaz on May 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM

I’m sure the Administration will see this as a simple ‘evolution’ in the ‘process of transition’. “Nothing serious, nothing to worry about. Hey! What time do you want to head to the course and do nine holes?”

Liam on May 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM

JohnGalt23 on May 7, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Which would be true, but this wasn’t a “War” in the traditional sense.

This was probably the worse ‘Covert Action’ ever run by a Administration…

For what?

Was Khadaffi replaced by a more open minded government?

Was any Strategic or National Intelligence gained by this move?

Are we better off now, before this boondoggle was launched?

Talk about a deficit of political capitol.

BlaxPac on May 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM

BlaxPac on May 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Libs care not for outcomes, but only for intentions.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on May 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Arab Spring!

myiq2xu on May 7, 2013 at 11:25 AM

What if we hadn’t intervened? Ghaddafi’s tanks would have leveled Benghazi and thousands would have died. There would have followed a period of intense repression and Ghaddafi would have ceased any cooperation with the West. There would be the probability of ongoing conflict and Islamification…another Syria, as rebels fought a diehard regime.
That’s not happening now and there is gratitude in Libya for what we did.
That being said, Obama’s intervention was at the 11th hour, reluctant and short-lived. He let the war go on too long and botched the aftermath. That’s his real legacy.

breffnian on May 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

What if we hadn’t intervened? Ghaddafi’s tanks would have leveled Benghazi and thousands would have died. There would have followed a period of intense repression and Ghaddafi would have ceased any cooperation with the West. There would be the probability of ongoing conflict and Islamification…another Syria, as rebels fought a diehard regime.
That’s not happening now and there is gratitude in Libya for what we did.
That being said, Obama’s intervention was at the 11th hour, reluctant and short-lived. He let the war go on too long and botched the aftermath. That’s his real legacy.

breffnian on May 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

I actually disagree with the bolded part above. I actually think Ghaddafi would have done exactly the opposite. He would have attempted to increase his ties with the West as an act of self-preservation.

I think he would have pointed gone to the western nations and said he was fighting their enemies vis-a-vis Ansar al Sharia. He would have asked why we would want to support the rebels, backed by jihadist groups that hate us. He also probably would have said that supporting his regime would provide a bulwark against the Arab Spring spreading further and throwing the entire region into chaos… witness Syria. That once one nation stands up against this regime change, other rebel groups in other nations… Syria, Bahrain, etc… will be less emboldened to begin or continue high profile protests and outright civl war for regime change in their states. I think he probably would have acknowledged privately that he knows we don’t like him, but our choices would be his Libyan state or turning Libya into another Somalia in North Africa.

And it’s certainly looking like we are going to get the latter… Somalia Redux in Libya.

gravityman on May 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Al Watan, the MB party, is founded by Bel Hadj, he was the leader of the Libyan Fighting Group, he runs camps for Syrian jihadists in the desert, he brought in Bin Qumu, head of Ansar al Sharia, to train the militants during the war,

narciso on May 7, 2013 at 1:35 PM