Libya Now Ruled By 300 Militias

Libya has emerged from its civil war with more than 300 militias and no political consensus on forming a national army, raising concerns that irregular, gun-toting groups could become entrenched and pose a long-term challenge to the government, officials said.

On Monday, Libyan leaders began to establish a new interim government with the authority to create the armed forces, choosing the technocratic Abdurrahim el-Keib as prime minister. But the militiamen who won the eight-month war have made it clear that they will not submit meekly to the new civilian authorities.

“Creating a new army is not going to be by an official statement or resolution. It has to come after a negotiation,” said Anis Sharif, a spokesman for Abdulhakim Belhadj, an Islamist seen as the dominant militia leader in Tripoli…

Islamist fighters have squabbled with revolutionaries who once belonged to the national army over who should lead Libya’s new armed forces, so the top post is vacant, officials said. The military’s No. 2 officer — Deputy Chief of Staff Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi — was stunned last month when a militia from the western Zintan region seized control of his Tripoli base while he was out of town, his aides said.

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