Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan was snatched by gunmen before dawn Thursday from a Tripoli hotel where he resides, the government said. The abduction appeared to be in retaliation for the U.S. special forces raid over the weekend that seized a Libyan al-Qaida suspect from the streets of the capital.
Zidan’s abduction reflected the weakness of Libya’s government, which is virtually held hostage by powerful militias, many of which are made up of Islamic militants. Militants were angered by the U.S. capture of the suspected militant, known as Abu Anas al-Libi, and accused the government of colluding in or allowing the raid.
In a sign of Libya’s chaos, Zidan’s seizure was depicted by various sources as either an “arrest” or an abduction.
That is because the militias are interwoven in Libya’s fragmented power structure. With the police and army in disarray, many are enlisted to serve in state security agencies, though their loyalty is more to their own commanders than to government officials and they have often intimidated or threatened officials. The militias are rooted in the brigades that fought in the uprising that toppled autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, and are often referred to as “revolutionaries.”
It doesn’t seem coincidental to me that the kidnapping came not long after the New York Times helpfully reported that the two recent US operations against terrorists were accomplished with the cooperation of the Libyan government. Nice going, NY Times, and whoever in the Obama administration leaked the information to you.
Not that it matters all that much, I suppose, given what the government of Libya is like these days (or any other days). That reminds me of the question I kept asking towards the beginning of the Libyan conflict in early 2011:
Does anyone knows what’s really going on with Libya?…
Although we keep hearing about the Libyan rebels, I have yet to see a good description of who they are and what they are striving for, except the elimination of the current regime. I assume they’re better than Qaddafi (which would not too difficult), but such assumptions can be dangerous. I sincerely hope the State Department has more information on that than I do, but sometimes I wonder.
I would say it’s been clear for quite some time that they’re no better than Qaddafi. Perhaps worse.
The story reminds me that it’s been a little over a year since the Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Stevens. As far as the press and much of the public goes, it’s almost as though it never happened.
I have another question: will Zidan’s kidnappers offer him in exchange for the captured terrorist al-Libi?
And an observation: if I were a conspiracy theorist sort, I’d say this kidnapping appears to have been pulled off rather easily. For example, the bodyguards were just beaten up and not killed. So, was this a staged kidnapping, accomplished with Zidan’s cooperation? Almost nothing would surprise me at this point, although I can’t quite figure out what Zidan would gain by allowing himself to be the victim of a fake kidnapping.