Armed Militias Rule Libya, Primed For ‘Backlash’ At Sign of Western Meddling

John Glaser, October 25, 2013
Libyan rebels gathered in Ajdabiya, March 2011. Credit: Al Jazeera English

Libyan rebels gathered in Ajdabiya, March 2011. Credit: Al Jazeera English

This well-reported article by Will Crisp at the Christian Science Monitor has two important findings. First, disparate armed militias are really who rules Libya, not the government. Second, these militias are motivated to wrest even more control over the government by a fear of Western interference.

Abdelmonem al-Said is the head of the militia that kidnapped Libya’s prime minister last month. He proudly stands by his role in the abduction and defiantly announces in press conferences how not scared he is of retribution or punishment, because the government is too weak, Crisp reports.

Here’s a key section of Crisp’s report, sub-titled “Suspicion of intervention.”

In the weeks ahead of Zeidan’s abduction, the Justice and Construction party, linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, repeatedly called for the prime minister’s removal, but couldn’t drum up the 120 votes in parliament needed for a no-confidence vote. The new lawmakers behind the push for a no-confidence vote insist they were not behind the kidnapping, and only seek to bring down the government by legitimate means.

“This could well have been an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to achieve something illegally that they failed to achieve through the legitimate means of a no-confidence vote,” says Jason Pack, a research at Cambridge University and president of

“The Brotherhood doesn’t necessarily want to replace him with one of their own ranks, but it does want to block his plans to build a strong army. It’s seen what happened in Egypt and sees plans to cooperate with the US and Europe over training troops as a threat.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande raced to condemn the abduction and pledged to help Libya rein in militias. NATO announced earlier this week that it would send security advisors to Libya to help it build up an effective defense force under the auspices of the government.

While this has been broadly welcomed in Libya, observers say the international community must be careful not to reinforce the militias’ grip on the country’s politics.

“Libya’s militias continue to dictate the terms of politics for the foreseeable future and risk the stability of the country in the process,” says Oliver Coleman, senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at risk analysis company Maplecroft. “Any sort of outside intervention that could be construed as Western interference is likely to provoke a serious backlash from some militias, and indeed from the Islamist JCP [Justice & Construction Party].”

The militias who NATO helped bring to victory by overthrowing Gadhafi are now wary of further Western meddling that would strengthen the army and buttress the government. And any sign of greater intervention, according to some analysts, “is likely to provoke a serious backlash.” Meanwhile, “Radical Islamist brigades that publicly praise Al Qaeda have expanded,” Crisp informs, and “The militant group Ansar al-Sharia has opened a number of new branches in the west of the country.”

The enfeebled Libyan government is even aiding and abetting Ansar al-Sharia, Mohamed Eljarh reported at Foreign Policy back in March, even though “they remain firmly opposed to the idea of democracy, which, they contend, contradicts sharia law.”

“The basis for Ansar’s reappearance seems to be an arrangement with the Libyan Ministry of Defense,” Eljarh reports. ”At the time of the attack on the consulate, the government promised to do everything in its power to bring the perpetrators to justice — but now we see the Libyan authorities actually cooperating with the militia.”

Notably, such groups didn’t exist in Libya to any substantive extent prior to U.S. intervention. Like in Iraq, U.S. intervention brought precisely the end result Washington tries to battle against in its counter-terrorism efforts.

Can somebody please remind me what was the wisdom behind this intervention?

17 Responses to “Armed Militias Rule Libya, Primed For ‘Backlash’ At Sign of Western Meddling”

  1. Libya was about establishing a military path in Africa and Islamization of Africans by these Saudis and UAE paid mercenaries. Syria is about Middle East and expansion of Saudis-UAE tyrannical religious where Barack Hussein Obama and EU governments are no shy nor hiding their intentions. It started by the Neo Europeans mafia as French zarkozi, Italian berlosconi, the Swedish Neo fascism government in cooperation with the king and USA backing them all.

  2. "Wisdom"????

  3. peace and democracy, my tuckus! the point of all these
    ‘interventions’ is to destroy any possible resistance to
    the NAtional Zionist hegemony over the muddled east.

    “One Zion to rule them all, one Zion to find them;
    one Zion to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.”

  4. Your average Libyan probably misses Kaddaffi compared to what's going on now. Thanks, NWO neocons and zionists.

  5. Who knows…? Kerry and McCain is pushing for the same outcome in Syria, so they might have the million dollar question.

  6. I don't know. Most Libyans did support the NATO intervention back in 2012.
    However, the country has grown far less stable since then.

  7. Why would the EU and USA be assisting Saudi-UAE expansion? Why would the "west" wish to increase the hold of Salafists on the Arab population? And if that's what the "West" wants, why back the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt? Does the "West" have any policy at all, or do they just roll from crisis to crisis, "pragmatically" trying to discern what is in their best interests at the moment? In other words, do they actually know not only what they are doing, but why they are doing it?

  8. It is tough for government to defeat militias and rule over them. Militias are motivated , they rule in Libya not government. They want removal of government by vote of no confidence, by legitimate means but when they fail to fulfill legitimately, they try illegally. US help Libya to overcome militias, make effective defense force to grip of militias. Hexder Supernatural Dean Winchester

  9. Do you know the international policies involving the saying: "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"
    A functioning democracy, growth of such prospect and idea in cooperation for nations in Africa, in Middle East and other part of this world is the reasons. For these created Islamist regimes and their social politics which will end with shariah law is the ultimate goal of the west, expending Saudis and UAE political influence and territories is the idea to stop the growth of functioning democracy, socialism and even the basic democracy.

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  13. Abdelmonem al-Said is the head of the militia that kidnapped Libya’s prime minister last month. He proudly stands by his role in the abduction and defiantly announces in press conferences how not scared he is of retribution or punishment, because the government is too weak, Crisp reports.

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