SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 10, 2012

Our view: Militias continue to drive Mideast violence

One of the most pressing problems in Middle Eastern countries that have broken free or are trying to break free from dictators — usually with the help of the U.S. — is the continuing presence of armed militias unwilling to turn in weapons or give up camps and barracks for fear of reprisals.

That is the scenario in Libya where militias are being blamed for the violent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Libya’s president called on the country’s militias to come under government authority or disband.

President Mohammed el-Megaref is trying to harness the anger shown by many in the country at the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Militias operating without state authority will be dissolved and the military will take control of their barracks, he told reporters.

But that’s not likely to happen any time soon in Libya, Egypt, Iraq or even in Afghanistan where tribal and regional militias are forming just as the U.S. prepares to draw down its troop strength.

That reduction means fewer U.S. dollars and more unemployed, weapons-trained Afghan troops. If the government can’t root out corruption and cronyism and win the support of the people, the militias closest to the people will flourish.

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