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Despite widely hailed elections in the summer, the new General National Congress has been widely condemned as dysfunctional, engaged in shifting alliances and unable to form a new government.

Many Libyans complain that little has changed in the past year; and, amid the instability, everyone is holding on to their guns.

“We can’t really discuss differences of opinions when we have weapons because, in the end, everyone here has a gun, and when they get mad, they might go for their weapons,” said Saleh Sanoussi, a political analyst at Benghazi University. “Freedom with weapons results in chaos.”

“It is a Catch-22,” he said of the militias dilemma. “Without them, there is a danger to security. With them, it is impossible to build an army.”