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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - William Lawrence
Libya's deteriorating security was evident Monday when troops and armed civilians in Benghazi clashed with members of a militant group blamed for the attack last year that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
The Obama administration and other Western governments ignored early warnings about small arms and explosives being smuggled out of Libya — weapons that now have fallen into the hands of al Qaeda-linked militants waging war across North Africa.
Security in Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city where four Americans were killed Sept. 11 in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate, has decayed to the point where Westerners are fleeing, assassinations and kidnappings are rife and residents worry that U.S. drone strikes on jihadist targets are imminent.
Five days of riots last week in a town in Tunisia's impoverished interior wounded hundreds of people and deepened the rift between the two most powerful forces in this North African country: the moderate Islamist ruling party and the main labor union.
"The political game in Tripoli is a high-stakes game with some level of impunity, which involves militias extracting concessions from the government they work for by taking threatening actions, whether it is occupying the parliament building or kidnapping an official for a few hours or refusing to give up a post they have been guarding since the revolution," said Mr. Lawrence.
"Until we have dealt with the underlying issues of distrust at the political level, no one is going to give up their arms and things could get worse," said Mr. Lawrence.