Sunday, September 30, 2012

Disarming Libya

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens clearly crystallized anti-militia activism among ordinary Libyans.  Now we may actually be seeing the disarming of the country's militias:
"Hundreds of Libyans converged on a main square in Benghazi and another in Tripoli in response to a call from the military to hand over their weapons, some driving in with armoured personnel carriers, tanks, vehicles with mounted anti-aircraft guns and hundreds of rocket launchers.
"The call by the Libyan chiefs of staff was promoted on a private TV station in August. But it may have gained traction after the attack against the US consulate in Benghazi in which the American ambassador and three other staff were killed...
"Previously, the government had estimated that over 200,000 people in Libya are armed. It has attempted a number of disarmament schemes, including offering people jobs in exchange for handing over their weapons, or offering to buy guns. Those offers have shown few results...
"Ahmed Salem, an organiser of the efforts in Benghazi, said over 800 citizens handed in weapons at the main collection point. Over 600 different types of arms were collected, including anti-aircraft guns, landmines, rocket launchers and artillery rockets...
"In Tripoli, at least 200 former fighters handed over their weapons, including two tanks, at the Martyrs' square in the city centre. A cleric urged young fighters to give up their weapons. 'The nation is built with knowledge not guns,' he said standing in the square."
And for today's rhetorical question, will that Muslim religious leader encouraging education over violence get as much Western media coverage as random clerics calling for violence?



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