As Hillary Clinton, the Libyan government deserves our complete and total support. Not those rabble driving out our Islamist militia friends.
Residents of Libya’s second-largest city warned on Saturday of a “revolution” to get rid of armed militias and Islamic extremists after protests spurred in part by the killing of the U.S. ambassador left four dead in an unprecedented eruption of public frustration.
In a sign of how weak the country’s post-Moammar Gadhafi leadership remains, authorities tried to stem popular anger, pleading that some of the militias are needed to keep the country safe since the police and army are incapable of doing so.
A mass protest Friday against militias against the compounds of several armed groups in Benghazi lasted into early Saturday, as thousands stormed the headquarters of Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamic extremist group suspected in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate.
Now why would the Libyan government tell protesters to leave the Islamist militias alone?
Well this might help explain a few things.
The unrest comes at a time when the power vacuum in Libya continues. The first post-Gadhafi national elections in May chose a national assembly that is serving as a parliament and that chose the new president, Mohammed el-Megaref, and a prime minister, Mustafa Abushagur. But Abushagur, believed to have struck an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, has yet to form a cabinet. Members of the assembly are pressing him to replace the interior and defence ministers in charge of security forces and the military.
El-Megaref called on protesters to leave alone militias that are “under state legitimacy, and go home.”
And who are those “legitimate militias” exactly?
Aside from Rafallah Sahati, there are two other major militias in Benghazi that authorities rely on. One is called Libya Shield, led by Wassam Bin Hamaad, an Islamist who has resolved tribal disputes. Another is the Feb. 17 Brigade, led by Fawzi Abu Kataf, who is seen as connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. The militia is believed to be the closest to the state authorities and has helped secure borders.
As reported exclusively on The Point on Friday, Feb 17 was also the militia that Clinton and Stevens relied on to protect the Consulate.