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Heavy Fighting Erupts in Tripoli as Libya Slips Back Toward Civil War

Heavy fighting between warring militias and the government has erupted in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. The country is slowly slipping back into civil war. Assassinations and bombings occur on an almost daily basis in Benghazi, the coastal city in eastern Libya, and now Tripoli, which for a while hadn’t seen the worst of the fighting, is becoming embroiled in street battles.

“Heavy fighting between militias using rifles, grenades and anti-aircraft weapons erupted in several parts of Tripoli on Tuesday in the worst violence in the Libyan capital for weeks,” Reuters reports. “Fighting between militias is often about personal arguments, control of local areas, stolen cars or smuggled goods such as drugs or alcohol banned in Libya.” Meanwhile, several embassies have been attacked recently, and the Prime Minister was briefly taken hostage by militiamen last month.

The country is disintegrating. On Sunday a 33 year-old warlord who is said to command 17,000 militiamen held an elaborate swearing-in ceremony for two dozen of his comrades who will take up “government” positions, including “prime minister”, in the eastern region of Cyrenaica. Oil exports have plummeted, depriving the government of its main source of revenue; its leaders are under intense pressure to resign; whole regions are seceding; and militias, more powerful than the national armed forces, battle each other in the streets.

This probably isn’t the situation the Obama administration had in mind when it chose to destroy Qaddafi’s regime. But these are the consequences of that rash decision and the complete lack of a plan to help Libyans rebuild the country after the Great Loon met his end.

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  • SlienceOfSound

    WRM calls the Obama administration’s decision to destroy Qadaffi’s regime “rash.” In his 10/20/2011 blog entry titled “Farewell to the Great Loon,” there was no sense that he felt this was a particularly rash action.

    • Laurence Levin

      Actually Adam Garfinkle called it a catastrophe right from the beginning. I was hoping he will write something new.soon about negotiations with Iran.

      • SlienceOfSound

        Thanks for the reference. Mr. Garfinkle was prescient. WRM, perhaps less so.

        • Kevin

          Well now that the left and right have each had their Arabian adventure maybe we will avoid a third one.

  • qet

    Let’s see: Bush Admin removes Iraq despot; civil war ensues; Left declares action to have been not only foolhardy but criminally negligent. Obama Admin assists Libyan rebels in removal of their own despot; civil war ensues; Left silent; Via Meadia suggests said assistance was foolhardy. Obama Admin assists (in some way) Egyptian rebels in removal of their despot, and assists Muslim Brotherhood to assume power “democratically”; Via Meadia suggests this is not a sound move; Egyptian military removes Muslim Bhood; Obama Admin does nothing to prevent; is castigated by both sides and by Via Meadia. Obama Admin sits on sidelines and does nothing to assist Syrian rebels to remove their own despot, nor to maintain despot in power; Via Meadia suggests this is foolhardy. Saudi Arabia and Israel get pissed that US is not supporting Syrian rebels and Egyptian military.
    I see a pattern here.

    • Honk

      Bush cleaned up his mess. Obama is letting his rot, and doing all he can to undo Bush’s cleaning up.

  • Anthony

    For this, we moved on Qaddafi.

  • jeburke

    I also want to know where the Brits and the French are on this descent of Libya into a failed state. It was they who agitated for international intervention, US participation and a UN resolution authorizing a “no fly zone.” And what about the seven Arab states which backed them?

    It just goes to show you — as if proof were needed — that other “great powers” and wannabes are perfectly happy to allow the US to take the lead when it suits them and then disappear, leaving the US holding the bag when that suits them.

  • Bruce

    There are never any good choices. It’s always the least bad option in these places. The fact that our president seems to have chosen poorly, does not diminish the fact that very little that is good happens in these places, regardless of who is the dictator at the time. Given that half the population hates us when we are active in these places and half hates us when we are inactive, it’s hard to see the benefit of imposing ourselves.

  • lukelea

    You’d have thunk that after Iraq we would have known.

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