Editor’s Note: In an interview on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, Ibrahim Sharqieh discusses the security situation in Libya.
MR. KOJO NNAMDI: Nearly six months after the fall of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, hopes for a transition to a stable democratic government in Libya are meeting reality. Libya’s interim government is struggling to maintain control amidst violence and power struggles between malicious and tribal chiefs. The latest challenge is in the oil rich eastern region. Local leaders there have declared themselves semi-autonomous, reviving old divisions and threatening the already fragile unity of the country.
MR. KOJO NNAMDI: Tripoli is now controlled not by government security forces but by competing militias. And in the South, a hundred people were killed in tribal fighting last week. Many fear Libya is in danger of becoming a failed state. Joining us to discuss that situation by phone from Doha, Qatar is Ibrahim Sharquieh. He is the deputy director of the Brookings Doha Center. Ibrahim, thank you so much for joining us.
MR. IBRAHIM SHARQIEH: Thank you, Kojo.
NNAMDI: Right now, there’s a transitional government with an interim leader. Is there any timeline for an elected government in Libya?
SHARQIEH: That’s correct, yes. That is actually on June 23. There’s supposed to be an election of a council that – this council will be tasked to draft their constitution. And after drafting the constitution, there should be a referendum. And early in 2013, we should see legislative elections as well in Libya.
NNAMDI: One of the more serious issues for the National Transition Council are divisions and violence. In the south, more than 100 people were killed last week as we just said. Tripoli also has issues with security. What does that say about the government’s ability to unify and control tribal leaders and militias?
SHARQIEH: This is—there are plenty of indicators that suggest that the security situation in the country is actually deteriorating. Last week, we have seen over 100 people killed in the southern city of Kufra in the tribal clashes between different tribes. And also, we have seen, over the past two, three months, a number of incidents clashing security forces in the capital Tripoli. So the National Transitional Council has been struggling trying to control these security situations.