Does Libya need a strong national army?
In an article for The New Arab Guma El-Gamaty argues Libya must build a strong national army, gradually scaling down the militias, in order to avoid a security vacuum. El-Gamaty traces the causes for the current abundance of militias in the country, from Gaddafi’s actions that weakened the conventional Libyan army to the number of incentives post 2011 for young men to take up arms and form militias. The author suggests a course for bringing the militias into the fold of a nation army:
Demobilising and integrating hundreds of thousands of militias members into the army should not be the only option, as many of these militias are formed along local, tribal and ideological lines; factors which could impede building a coherent army.
Recruiting them on their individual merits, an ensuring they are strictly disciplined and accountable, is a more feasible option.
Libya needs a highly mechanised and mobile army of about 100,000. This means the old army, where many – including the 75-year-old Haftar – are well passed their retirement age, must be overhauled.
Building a young, strong, national army should become the goal of all political factions, and it should be incorporated into an overall political agreement and national contract.
Such a body could be gradually built up, as the militias are gradually scaled down, to avoid any serious security vacuum that will bring about even more criminality and violence.
The bulk of the young militia members should be enticed away from militia culture through well-constructed capacity building programmes that include training and development, further education and government loans to set up small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
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