The Libyan city of Benghazi saw a string of bombings early this month, highlighting Libya’s remaining internal security challenges two years after the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. In an email interview, William Lawrence, director of International Crisis Group’s North Africa project, explained the landscape of Libya’s armed groups and the international role in security sector reform.
WPR: What are the main armed groups currently operating in Libya, and what are their goals?
William Lawrence: As reported by Small Arms Survey in June 2012 and in Crisis Group’s “Holding Libya Together” and “Divided We Stand,” there are four types of armed groups organizing more than 150,000 Libyans: revolutionary brigades, post-revolutionary brigades, unregulated brigades and “militias.” About 75 percent of these fighters belong to the hundreds of brigades that fought the revolution and are organized to defend it. The strongest are the Misratan and Zintani brigades, which act as enforcers for the government, and the latter are still holding Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the late Moammar Gadhafi.