An unpleasant story in today’s Wall Street Journal shows us that among the many side effects of the Libya adventure has been not just instability among Libya’s neighbors but also a certain kind of lawlessness within Libya itself. In Libya, it’s not the kind of sectarian violence that periodically convulses Iraq, pitting the country’s security forces against militias that terrorize the populace through bombings and kidnappings. Rather in Libya the security forces are complicit in the crimes, as democratically elected officials stand helplessly by:
At sunrise on Saturday, suspected Libyan adherents of the rigid Salafi school of Islam brought bulldozers into the center of Tripoli and flattened the expansive, centuries-old Sidi Al-Sha’ab shrine. Uniformed members of at least two separate government security divisions that answer to the Interior Ministry barricaded the busy seafront road where the religious complex was located and allowed the daylong demolition to continue, according to witnesses.
Who are these Salafis? Losers in the latest elections:
The brazen attacks in two cities underscore the shaky nature of the emerging democracy in Libya, where elected officials have little sway over security forces. The destruction has raised fears that conservative religious groups—whose candidates were soundly beaten in the country’s July election—may attempt to sabotage Libya’s transition to a secular, modern state.
A government needs an army or it isn’t really a government, no matter how many people vote for it. Judging by this standard, Libya doesn’t really have a government.Building a new Libyan army loyal to the elected government will take time and money. And someone will have to provide security until the new army is ready to stand up. Who will that be? Britain? France? Bueller? Anybody?