The New Libya: Bombs, Bullets and Militias

By: Daniel Nardini

Tens of thousands of people are being held in prison without trial, and without even charge. They are being held simply on the suspicion they are pro-Gaddhafi supporters. They face vicious torture by their captors, and everyday people and whole families suspected of having any ties with the old regime are murdered by wandering militias. Tens of thousands of Libyans have fled into exile—fearful not only of the power of the militias but also sad about the condition of their country which has become highly unstable. In almost every place there are no police, no firefighters, and the so-called National Transitional Council seems to have no control over the militias or have intention of having any control over the militias. Welcome to the new Libya.

The war crimes and crimes against humanity being done right now by the militias is documented by Amnesty International. They of course do not by any means justify what former dictator Muamar Gaddhafi’s forces did. However, now the militias, who had sprung up during the rebellion against Gaddhafi, have instituted a reign of terror. In the name of “uprooting the old regime,” the militias have carte blanche in attacking anyone they suspect of being an enemy, or imprisoning them without warrant, and torturing them to death. Whole families are threatened with death and are either driven into exile or actually murdered. Blacks Africans have been especially targeted by the militias—because they have been suspected as having been mercenaries for Gaddhafi or simply out of racism against all Black Africans that is now prevalent in the new Libya. Whole towns have been emptied of their inhabitants. One example of this is Tawergha. Inhabited by Black Africans, the whole town was emptied by the militias of Misrata and their inhabitants either slaughtered, driven into exile, or now imprisoned. The militias burned and looted the whole town so today it remains a ghost town.

Meanwhile the National Transition Council has instituted strict Islamic sharia law. Two things that are especially distressing are the abolition of laws against polygamy and bringing all banks under strict religious control. With the abolition of polygamy, men can marry as many women as they wish and women have no right to contest a man’s marriage to more than one woman. Banks cannot charge interest, and must be operated under strict religious authority. This was done only by the Taliban in Afghanistan—none of the other Arab states do this. What many Americans may not know is that Libya, like Egypt, has its own minorities. The Tebu and Tuaregs—semi-nomadic Black African peoples, are now being targeted and slaughtered by the militias. Many of these people had supported Gaddhafi in the past, but many had stayed out of the Libyan civil war. But because there were those who fought for Gaddhafi, the militias are targeting all Tebu and Tuaregs. The National Transitional Council is doing nothing to stop this racial and ethnic cleansing.

Despite their claims that they are trying to bring peace and unity to Libya, the National Transition Council seems to be doing nothing or just about the opposite. Libya is going through a new bloodletting courtesy of those that the United States, Great Britain and France put into power. If these three countries had not chosen a side in the Libyan civil war, and had not helped to destroy the Gaddhafi forces, then it is clear Gaddhafi would have won. Not to say that Gaddhafi was the better choice, but I have to ask the question why the United States, Great Britain and France grossly interfered and meddled in a conflict that was really none of our business? If the people of Libya had been left to get rid of Gaddhafi, then they would have succeeded or failed on their own. As it is, we may have put people in power that may eventually prove to be worse than Gaddhafi was.

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