So far, revolutionary Libya appears to be doing fairly well. It has not seen a breakdown of law and order as occurred in post-Baathist Iraq. So it would appear the concerns of those of us who called for the dispatch of an international peacekeeping force were exaggerated. Or were they? It’s too soon to say, but reading articles like this one in the Washington Post certainly raises one’s level of concern:
Less than a month after rebels captured Tripoli and forced longtime leader Muammar Qaddafi to flee, revolutionary militia groups are sweeping up any weapons they can find, often from huge unguarded weapons dumps left behind by Qaddafi’s forces.
Some of the groups barely recognize the authority of the new civilian government, and rivalries are already surfacing — developments that are worrying officials, civilians and human rights groups.
This is good cause for worry. Portable surface-to-air missiles could end up in the hands of al-Qaeda, while massive quantities of explosives and small arms could be used to start an insurgency. The latter worry is particularly acute since Qaddafi still has not been caught, and he is believed to have access to vast piles of wealth.
Safeguarding weapons depots would have been one of the primary missions for an international force. But no such force has materialized, so all we can do is sit back and hope for the best. That’s not a very satisfying policy, to put it mildly.