“The involvement of revolutionary brigades and local armed groups in efforts to end hostilities blurs the line separating neutral mediation from partisan meddling,” the International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based think tank, said in a report last month.
That makes strengthening national security forces a top priority for the new government, which has yet to be formed since national elections in July. On Thursday, a proposed cabinet lineup by Prime Minister-elect Mustafa Abu Shagur was rejected by the national assembly after a few hundred protesters from western towns with strong militias of their own flooded the parliament building, complaining the proposed government wasn't regionally inclusive.
Mr. Shagur has promised to propose a new cabinet by Sunday. Whether one will be approved then remains an open question. And until there's a government, building effective national security institutions is unlikely. The ICG warned that until then, the "reliance on revolutionary brigades and local armed forces will continue to be an uncertain wager.”
The key is breaking down existing militia structures, says Fawzi Waniss, head of the Benghazi section of the Supreme Security Council (SSC), an auxiliary police force of militia fighters working under the interior ministry.
The SCC and LSF have brought most militias under at least nominal government control, says Mr. Waniss. Others are more loosely aligned with the state, while still others remain independent. “In Tripoli, they allowed whole brigades to enter the SSC,” says Mr. Waniss. “That was a mistake.”