By BJ Bjornson
My previous post on Libya has generated a fair bit of discussion in the comments (as well as a bit of snarky insults and dismissals , but we�ll ignore those for now). It does strike me as a bit odd to be put in the position of defending those who opposed a mission I actually supported, but we�ll put that aside for the moment as well.
One of the arguments not covered much in that post but prominent among some of those opposed to the intervention was the destabilizing effects the overthrow of Gaddafi could have on the region. I touched upon this issue almost a month ago when reports surfaced of Tuareg fighters from Libya forming a new rebel group in Mali, and there is more evidence that the regional effects of Gaddafi�s overthrow are just starting to be felt.
Niger's military has clashed with a heavily armed convoy travelling though the desert from Libya towards Mali, security sources say.
. . .
Serge Hilpron, the head of Radio Nomad, a broadcaster in northern Niger, told the AP news agency that his sources indicated that both Libyan nationals and Tuaregs were in the convoy.
"Because of the Libyan problem, there are now traffickers heading to Libya to pick up the arms left behind and to bring them here. These same traffickers then sell the arms to AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb]," he is quoted as saying.
A Nigerien army officer said he understood the convoy was made up of pro-Gaddafi fighters "guided by Malian Tuaregs", the Reuters news agency reports.
. . .
Security experts believe AQIM - which attacks and kidnaps foreigners across the region - is also exploiting the instability in Libya by acquiring weapons from there.
They say Libya turned into an "arms bazaar" during the eight-month conflict. Both sides involved in the fighting raided government-owned arms depots.
You can add this to the other reports of the transitional government�s inability to convince the diverse rebel groups to give up the weapons they acquired during the fighting with the pro-Gaddafi forces and the threat to Libya�s internal security that results from it.
One hopes that internal security can be restored, and with it control over the arm�s depots and the mischief such can cause both within and without Libya. If not, Libya could soon find itself part of the �failed state� club and a source for trouble for all of its neighbours.
I have no idea how plausible such a scenario is, but I get the feeling things are still on a teetering balance scale that can be pushed into instability all too easily. The next few months are going to be critical to building an inclusive successor state to Gaddafi�s Libya, and it is unfortunately true that it is far harder to build such a state than find ways to tear it down.