Rat Purifiers of Libya

In Foreign Policy, Sean Kane argues that the situation in Libya isn’t as fractius as it seems. Yes, there are plenty of disputes. But they tend to be local, continuations of long-standing rivalries. Generally, the mood is oddly content:

Eight months after the brutal death of Qaddafi marked the end of the civil conflict that followed Libya’s popular uprising, support for the regime change appears to have if anything grown. Even if some of this backing falls into the “everyone loves a winner” category, a full 97 percent of Libyans surveyed by Oxford Research International in January thought the revolution was absolutely or somewhat right.

Kane also tells the sotry of the “Rat Purifiers”, as a demonstration of Libyan unpleasantness without national consequences:

The central actor in the drama was a memorably named revolutionary militia called Purifying the Tyrant’s Rats Brigade that attempted to “liberate” 300 cars from a farm outside of the city….

A rolling car chase around town ensued between the Rat Purifiers and other revolutionary brigades that now make up Benghazi police. The show lasted from late afternoon until the early morning hours and was punctuated by frequent and escalating salvos of shooting, including the use of heavy caliber anti-aircraft guns. The net result of all this sturm und drang was exactly two persons injured…by stab wounds. Benghazi’s revolutionaries either have preposterous aim or were not actually trying to hit each other.

But, howeve you spin it, you can’t ignore the way in which Libyan cities are turning against the centre.

Benghazi has recently birthed a proto-federalism movement advocating for its own autonomous region. Misrata meanwhile holds the ministry of interior. It is sometimes characterized by its critics as a virtual city-state and its brigades police large swathes of the center of the country. Zintan’s revolutionary prize was the ministry of defense. Its fighters are deployed around the country at key infrastructure sites

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