Speaking on BBC World News America, Carnegie’s Frederic Wehrey discussed recent developments in Libya, including the abduction of the Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and the U.S. raid to capture senior al-Qaeda suspect Anas al-Liby. While there has been a real deterioration in security over the past nine months, Wehrey noted, the situation hasn’t turned into an all-out civil war. After the revolution, the army and police collapsed, allowing militias to have free reign since there was no institutional basis for force in the country. But even so, Wehrey said, “I think there is a sense of unity among Libyans that often gets overlooked and that’s why we haven’t seen the place collapse into something like Somalia or Bosnia yet.”
Although many of the Islamist groups in eastern Libya perhaps share the same world view with al-Qaeda, they are not organizationally linked, Wehrey argued, contending that Libya’s situation should not be read as part of a broader al-Qaeda expansion in North Africa. These Islamist groups in the east have their own local motives that are separate from al-Qaeda’s vision, Wehrey explained. Turning to the abduction of the Prime Minister, Wehrey noted that while the American raid may have been the catalyst, many of the militias are not Islamists and their grievances against the Zeidan government are not ideological but about reflect the inability of the government to deliver services, its lack of transparency, and the way Zeidan governs.