The Revolt of Benghazi’s Moderates: Will the Rest of Libya Follow?

Furious about the assault on the U.S. consulate and the death of the American ambassador, the city rises against the local militias.

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Asmaa Waguih — Reuters

Demonstrators celebrate after burning a car they say was full of ammunition as they stormed the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia group in Benghazi September 21, 2012. Pro-government demonstrators stormed the headquarters on Friday and evicted fighters from the site in a sweep of militia bases in Benghazi.

Ever since the end of the Libyan revolution last October, the militias—both secular and Islamist–that overthrew former leader Muammar Gaddafi have acted with impunity. They stole cars and confiscated buildings. They clashed with rival brigades using heavy weaponry they pilfered from military bases. But an interim government too weak and disorganized to confront the brigades was unable to persuade them to merge them into a national army and police force. And so frustrated residents in Benghazi decided to act on their own.

As the U.S. and Libyan government scrambled to find a way to tame those very same militias allegedly behind an attack against the American consulate that left four dead including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Benghazi residents took things into their own hands. In clashes that extended into the early morning hours, protesters overran the base of a militia suspected of masterminding the raid. The demonstrations started peacefully when 25,000 to 30,000 Benghazi residents poured into the streets shouting slogans such as “No to Terror, No to al-Qaeda” and “No to militias, no to brigades.” By nightfall, however, small groups of exasperated citizens raided militia compounds throughout the city.

(PHOTOS: Benghazi: Life During Wartime)

Friday’s march grew out of a civil society campaign to highlight a widespread condemnation of the attack that killed American envoy Chris Stevens and three others 10 days ago. “The Friday to Save Benghazi,” was advertised on television, radio and the internet.  “We want to save Benghazi from the violence and get rid of the militias,”says  protest organizer Muhammad Bujan.

The demonstrators began their rally at a downtown hotel at 5 p.m. and marched several miles to al-Kish square where an Islamist militia was holding its own demonstration.  Despite its denial of responsibility for the attack on the consulate, the Ansar al-Shari’a brigade had been roundly condemned as being behind the assault.  About 3,000 Ansar supporters waved flags with the slogan “There is no God but Allah.” They also held up  placards that read “We demand that National Conference members [Members of Parliament] and government officials renounce their American citizenship.” Some sported long beards and flowing robes favored by Islamist extremists.  Others wore plaid button down shirts and jeans.

Around 9 p.m. a group of about 80 men who were furious over Stevens’ killing marched on a militia base two miles away in the neighborhood of Sidi Hussein and soon stormed the building as militia fighters fled.  Emboldened, they next overran the Ukba bin Nafi’a brigade that is affiliated with Ansar al-Shari’a.  “We want them to know that Libya belongs to the people and not those with guns,” said Ahmad Obaidi as he joined others ransacking the base.  As the crowds grew in size and confidence, they headed towards the Ansar al-Shari’a headquarters in Efoyhat, three miles away. But when they arrived, the group’s members refused to surrender and fired a number of warning shots in the air to try to disperse the protesters who refused to flinch.  After 10 minutes however, the brigade accepted defeat, making way for the demonstrators to destroy the compound with rocks and pipes.

(PHOTOS: Libya’s New Regime: The Fight for Gaddafi’s Hometown)

With the fall of every militia base, police forces moved in with heavy weaponry to secure the area.  As they did, Benghazi residents celebrated. “We need to get rid of these terrorist gangs,” Attiya al-Hasi remarked a few blocks away.  “The country belongs to us and not to them.” By 3 a.m., government authorities responded by sending out a mass text message calling on residents “to return to your homes and not give the discredited the opportunity to corrupt your noble demonstration.”

“Today’s protests exposed the amount of stress on society,” explained Anas El Gomati, Director of Governance and Security at the Al Sadeq Institute in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.  “There is a willingness to go the extra mile in Benghazi to take the first step towards disarming the militias.”

The militia and Islamist phenomenon exists in other parts of the country.  But Libyans there will find it harder to replicate Benghazi’s example.  The city of Misrata with its dozens of militias is a state onto itself, running several prisons and preventing foreigners from entering.  The city of Zintan has equally powerful brigades and has refused to turn over Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam to the national government.  In both towns the brigades are admired for their role in the revolution and do not suffer from the militia backlash that has become widespread in Benghazi in the wake of the consulate attack.  And as long as such brigades retain their societal support, it will be a long time before the scenes in Benghazi will be repeated in other parts of Libya.

MORE: Timeline: What Happened in Libya and How the U.S. Reacted

17 comments
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Jill Louis
Jill Louis

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Bankimchandra Desai
Bankimchandra Desai

 

The main point we should all delve upon is the extent to which insiders and outsiders should react to issues related with/to Islam. A remote movie in the USA, still not seen, studied and scrutinised by many is capable of inciting people everywhere. That questions everyone’s reasoning. The Americans won’t be able to prohibit such activities because their constitution forbids them. The rest of the world is free to react in the best or the worst manner depending upon the level of maturity of the concerned. Insiders in the USA take note only after the rest of the world reacts violently as the insiders in Libya did on the prompting by the Islamists in Egypt. Hard core Islamists in Libya misread the priorities of their own fellow citizens. Libyans wanted a rule of law, discipline in all walks of life, safety, security for life and livelihood. Whatever namesake government Libyans and Egyptians had before was the ‘private arrangement’ by the then ruling class. That addresses the issue of disciplined temperament of the people. The tolerance of the people has reached a boiling point. If Islam fails to answer this basic issue, the Prophet will be helpless and he will be certainly failed by his arch followers. The Prophet and his legacy will fail for the very reasons He succeeded in Mecca and Medina. All civilizations of the past disappeared despite the presence of the reigning Gods. So will ours, be it Islamic or no Islamic.    

sirajul_islam_1
sirajul_islam_1

It's a positive development that 'Benghazi residents took things into their own hands.' Extremists seldom have religions but they use those to serve their, and/or others' purpose. Only people's awareness can defeat this demon that is raging the world nowadays.

eliking
eliking

And Republicans are saying the Arab spring is over. Not so fast, Mitt. We are seeing a potential ally emerging, we need to keep supporting them in their struggle for freedom, not scoring cheap political points.

SiDevilIam
SiDevilIam

The answer to your question is negative. Life in Libya shall not improve unless the government becomes equally powerful. If US pours in more money to stabilize it, the usual impression such action carries is more anti-Americanism.

Best alternative is for the rich Arab League to do what they do best. Pass a resolution.

Muslim tribal culture creates separate and independent militias. It cannot be overcome. In Afghanistan, peculiarly, where Americans tried to find Osama bin-Laden, who in turn was protected by local warlords of one or other Muslim militia, Taliban included, escaped the huge dragnet spread over by CIA. Thanks to a little help from Pakistan's dilapidated democracy and their strong armed ISI.

Dealing with such cultural traits is what American diplomacy lacks. Calling Muslims, all over the world, terrorists and suspecting their motives has not changed no matter who holds the White House.

My best suggestion is make friendly gestures and try to get them to talk with you, no matter what are their worldly attitudes against America.

The same goes with Iran scandal. It was America who not only allowed but supported Shah to prepare for the atomic energy. Mullahs came much later and seized the opportunity to scare Israel. Nothing more, nothing less. Give Iran the opportunity to discuss their nuclear ambitions as against Israel's illegally made stockpile of atom bombs and judge who is gulty and who is innocent.

What Iran is asking is to remove the sanctions, first, before they agree to the terms and conditions forced upon them by Americans and their European puppets.

You cannot kill all Muslims, more than one billion of them for good or bad reasons, Dr Yogesh Sharma. Stop blabbering. We are talking about Libya not India.

...and I am Sid Harth@mysistermarilynmonroe:disqus .com

Dr.Yogesh Sharma
Dr.Yogesh Sharma

No punishment for Muslim rioters

in India.

 

India has been

witnessing unprecedented rioting by Muslims. During the last six months Muslims

and Muslim groups/parties have been on rampage in all over the country. They

have been killing Hindus, burning buses, cars etc., and molesting woven. This

chain of rioting started from Assam,

where local Muslims and illegal intruders from Bangladesh started killing local

tribal people Bodos and Hindus. More than one hundred lives were lost and large

scale arson took place. Around one million people were rendered homeless and they

had to take shelter in refugee camps.

This chain of riots was started by Muslims in Assam. Some

doctored photos were circulated by Muslims about the so called oppression of

Myanmar Muslims by authorities. Government of India

blames mischievous elements from Pakistan

and Bangladesh.

Some secular fascists started blaming Hindu groups behind these MMSs to

consolidate Muslim vote banks. In India there are large number of

Muslim fanatic leaders and Hindu secular fascists leaders who all the time

instigate Muslims. This time also Muslim MPs from Assam also fanned this Muslim

rioting.

After Assam,

Muslims went on rampage and rioting in Jamp;K., Mumbai, Hyderabad,

Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta,

Lucknow, Allahabad,

Kanpur, Moradabad,

Ghaziabad, Bareilly,

Mathura, etc.,

places. In all these places not only innocent citizens were killed and property

burnt but women were also molested by Muslim rioters. Shocking thing about all

these riots were that by and large authorities were remained mute spectator. In

Mumbai even women police constable were molested but, police force remain

inactive. Shamelessly the inactive and inefficient police commissioner was

promoted.

The one thing was common in all these riots. That there was

large scale participation by Muslims in these riots, arson and molestation and

silence by the Indian authorities and state. Another shocking reality was

noticed that the loyalty of Indian Muslims was seen for Myanmar Muslims,

illegal Muslim intruders of Bangladesh

and morphed MMss circulated by India’s

arch enemy Pakistan.

For the enemy countries and foreign Muslims, Indian Muslims Killed large number

of fellow Indians, burnt Indian property and molested Indian women.

At a number of places riots took place after Friday prayers

where Muslims clergy incited Muslims and delivered hate messages. Large numbers

of Muslims were seen speeding hate but Indian authorities fail to take any

tough action. On the contrary rioters were given heavy packages in the name of

compensation. All these developments are very disturbing for world peace.

Indian secular leaders and Muslim leaders have been spreading communalism and

hate. This has made Muslims above nation, above, constitution and above justice

system. So far not a big Muslim leader has been arrested for rioting and hates

speeches.

 

 No punishment for Muslim rioters

in India.

 

India has been

witnessing unprecedented rioting by Muslims. During the last six months Muslims

and Muslim groups/parties have been on rampage in all over the country. They

have been killing Hindus, burning buses, cars etc., and molesting woven. This

chain of rioting started from Assam,

where local Muslims and illegal intruders from Bangladesh started killing local

tribal people Bodos and Hindus. More than one hundred lives were lost and large

scale arson took place. Around one million people were rendered homeless and they

had to take shelter in refugee camps.

This chain of riots was started by Muslims in Assam. Some

doctored photos were circulated by Muslims about the so called oppression of

Myanmar Muslims by authorities. Government of India

blames mischievous elements from Pakistan

and Bangladesh.

Some secular fascists started blaming Hindu groups behind these MMSs to

consolidate Muslim vote banks. In India there are large number of

Muslim fanatic leaders and Hindu secular fascists leaders who all the time

instigate Muslims. This time also Muslim MPs from Assam also fanned this Muslim

rioting.

After Assam,

Muslims went on rampage and rioting in Jamp;K., Mumbai, Hyderabad,

Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta,

Lucknow, Allahabad,

Kanpur, Moradabad,

Ghaziabad, Bareilly,

Mathura, etc.,

places. In all these places not only innocent citizens were killed and property

burnt but women were also molested by Muslim rioters. Shocking thing about all

these riots were that by and large authorities were remained mute spectator. In

Mumbai even women police constable were molested but, police force remain

inactive. Shamelessly the inactive and inefficient police commissioner was

promoted.

The one thing was common in all these riots. That there was

large scale participation by Muslims in these riots, arson and molestation and

silence by the Indian authorities and state. Another shocking reality was

noticed that the loyalty of Indian Muslims was seen for Myanmar Muslims,

illegal Muslim intruders of Bangladesh

and morphed MMss circulated by India’s

arch enemy Pakistan.

For the enemy countries and foreign Muslims, Indian Muslims Killed large number

of fellow Indians, burnt Indian property and molested Indian women.

At a number of places riots took place after Friday prayers

where Muslims clergy incited Muslims and delivered hate messages. Large numbers

of Muslims were seen speeding hate but Indian authorities fail to take any

tough action. On the contrary rioters were given heavy packages in the name of

compensation. All these developments are very disturbing for world peace.

Indian secular leaders and Muslim leaders have been spreading communalism and

hate. This has made Muslims above nation, above, constitution and above justice

system. So far not a big Muslim leader has been arrested for rioting and hates

speeches.

 

 

h rutner
h rutner

Yogesh and all infidels should read the Koran to understand the Islamic agenda of worldwide domination by any means mandated in the unchangeable Koran about 1300 years ago including jihad. Luckily for us infidels most Muslims currently are lukewarm and westernized not 100% true Muslims incorrectly called radical.

turdface
turdface

the world is on FIRE THANK YOU OBAMA CLINTON YOU LYING SCUM BAGS

efrustrated
efrustrated

...and thank you so much for your eloquent and constructive contribution to this comment board. 

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Well, at least he provided proof that one can often judge a book by its cover.

Bankimchandra Desai
Bankimchandra Desai

 

Backlash in Benghazi is not unexpected.Revolutionaries cease to be revolutionary soon after the overthrow of the despot regime and consider themselves as the de facto ruler of the sort. They become lawless very easily and soon people find themselves in a situation murkier than the previous one. Prachanda's tribe in Nepal disappointed one and all. Communists every where including Soviet Union and China disillusioned respective people. So it is observed that it may be easy to change/topple the government, but, it is equally difficult to provide a popular but viable alternative form of government and governance

jamis77731
jamis77731

You are right that most revolutions are betrayed by their leaders, once they win.  Castro, Mao, the leaders of the original French revolution, and the reds in Russia are just a few examples.  The only leaders I can think of that put the people first are George Washington and Nelson Mandela.  Both willingly transferred power, after they got their nations on the road forward.

Muslims coming out and withdrawing societal support for the extremists is very rare in recent times.  Still there's a hard road ahead for those who don't want to exchange one slave master for a group of others.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Congratulations to the citizens of Benghazi who said, (by their deeds) "Give me liberty or give me death!" and (by their words) "No to al Qaeda!" Let us hope their example is repeated around the world. If terrorists have no home, there will be no terrorism.

dot2dotnews
dot2dotnews

Likewise extreme Christians will have to follow suit.

wavettore
wavettore

9/11 ("false flag" attack planned by Bush amp; co.)

7/7 "false flag" in London (Blair seals the Pact with Bush)

The War in Iraq

The next expansion of the territory of Israel.

The future collapse of the World financial system

 

All these are not individual events but instead

part of the Zionist Plan. 

 

Once again, the next US presidential election will be fixed. 

Mitt Romney will be elected even though Barack Obama

will have received more votes in the 2012 election.

The political assassination will be perpetrated by Bush hiding behind Crossroads GPS, the most influential group of Neocons.

 

The Neocons will have Mitt Romney elected to first use him and then let him fall easy prey. All blames and responsibilities will fall on the new Mormon president for the events already planned.

 

The new World War of Religion is already a done deal behind the backs of all people which will be forced to fight for their own Countries in their obligation as citizens 

 

This next War will be the excuse to completely abolish the concept of Equality and all human rights associated with it

 

For this reason, the conflict, whichever mask it may wear,

must be redefined from the start:

pro or against Equality.

 

....................

 

First in history, this worldwide crisis was provoked through

a terror event (9/11) plotted by a US president, George Bush.

This was to destabilize the equilibrium of all Countries

and trigger a chain of events almost unavoidable

all of them part of the same Plan.

 

Many simultaneous rebellions stirred up in Arab Countries

will benefit in the end only the State of Israel

with the expansion of its territory

while...

 in Europe and in the US, the financial resources "like magic" will disappear through bailouts, tax cuts and elaborated emergency maneuvers which will be ruled only to appear beneficial for those Countries but instead appositely designed for their collapse

(except for England that will push Europe over the precipice).

 

It is closer than you think

 

Stock markets and Treasury bonds will ...... "freeze",

the old economy will get to .... "the last stop"

and the Internet will have ... "its plug pulled".

 

Massive poverty will bring chaos and anarchy

while the lack of effective governments will set the stage for one

World Tyranny

 

It will be just from chaos that one voice will rise

with the promise to fix all and everyone.

That will be the forked tongue of the

New World Order

There is only one Solution.

www.wavevolution.org

 

Vnend
Vnend

I thought that there were more like 14-15 people killed in the consulate attack last week; 3 Americans and 10+ Libyans employed for security there, who died defending it? So why say only four died?