Libya does not need UN peacekeepers
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August 22nd, 2011
11:11 PM ET

Libya does not need UN peacekeepers

Editor's Note: Tom Malinowski is the Washington Director for Human Rights Watch. Previously, he was special assistant to President Bill Clinton and senior director for foreign policy speechwriting at the National Security Council. The following is an edited transcript of my interview with him today.

Amar C. Bakshi:  What are you most concerned about over the coming days and weeks in Libya?

Tom Malinowski:  In the very short-term we want to make sure that the excellent commitments that the Libyan Transition Council has made to avoid retribution against perceived Gadhafi supporters, to maintain security and to preserve state institutions are kept in practice.

The leadership of the NTC has been saying all the right things on all of those issues. And  we’ll have to see whether all of the fighters and units that are streaming into Tripoli right now respect the wishes of their leaders.

We’ve urged the opposition to secure key state facilities like prisons and police stations to try to make sure that crowds of people don’t try to burn them down as they understandably often want to do when they encounter buildings that are symbols of state repression.

We’ve urged them to secure arms depots to make sure that dangerous weapons and munitions aren't looted. We’ve urged them to maintain the city police in Tripoli and other places that they take control of so the day-to-day security is maintained and to avoid the mistake that was made in Iraq of disbanding the security forces.

Besides Tripoli there are a number of other places in the country where the regime did enjoy substantial support, Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, for example, and several other places are not yet under the control of the opposition council.

They’re going to have to tread very, very carefully to assume control over those places. Hopefully it can be done without a fight.

And then then there are the longer-term political challenges of establishing a functioning court system, reforming the country’s laws, putting into a place an interim constitution and moving towards free and fair elections.

Do you imagine a strong international commitment to and presence in Libya in the months going forward?

There certainly should be a commitment and some presence but I don’t think Libya needs the presence of large numbers of international troops. I don’t think it needs a full-out peacekeeping force. I don’t think the Libyans want that. I don’t think they necessarily need it.

In most of the towns that have come under opposition control, things have functioned fairly smoothly. Local councils have taken over established security and maintained public services. The country isn't broken in the sense that outsiders need to come in and fix it.

I do think though that it would be helpful to have a lower-key monitoring presence under ideally United Nations auspices to have some police monitors, to have human rights monitors who can deploy to potential flash points in Tripoli and Sirte and elsewhere and to blow the whistle on any abuses that might occur. But I don’t think they need well armed troops enforcing stability. It’s not going to be wanted or needed.

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soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    I don't understand why the head of the TNC could announce to the world public that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and his brother Mohammed were captured, when Saif al-Islam showed himself in Tripoli and spoke to the BBC that he was free. It just shows that the TNC didn't have a grip on the events in the country.

    August 23, 2011 at 6:23 am | Reply
    • Polyglot

      Simply cause the head of rebels were lying to media under the direction of Nato media tips.Using the same ways like Nafissatou Dialo.Dont be surprised!

      August 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  2. Onesmallvoice

    Now the TNC will serve as a proxy occupation force for NATO but I still won't be at all surprised to see some NATO occupation forces there in the near future! Woe to Libya!!!

    August 23, 2011 at 8:14 am | Reply
  3. heyheyhey

    They don't need UN peacekeepers. The US will provide them with 100% free security at the expense of US taxpayers

    August 23, 2011 at 11:41 am | Reply
  4. CharlieSeattle

    UN Peacekeepers are not, will be needed after the tribal Cival war starts.

    August 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  5. CharlieSeattle

    NATO better step in and grap the tons of mustard gas, mines and arms still there.

    August 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  6. Adam

    Here's what happened you idiots! When the rebels approached Tripoli. Saif thought he could have a media scoop and make the TNC look like fools just as you are saying. So he spread a rumour through his security apparatus that he was captured by the rebels. When the rebels reached tripoli, they cut off the landlines and mobile phones so that they would force Gaddafi troops to use their radios so they could be heard. (They were usually using their mobile phones because it was controlled by Mohamed, Gaddafi's elder son.) So the rumour was spread. When it reached the rebels they passed on the information to HQ in Benghazi, who informed the ICC but they said to the ICC that they had no confirmation. Which the ICC also said seperately. As the rebels spread around Tripoli, Gaddafi's forces started hearing that same rumour and thought the game was up and started to melt away or hand themselves in to the rebels in their hundreds. The NTC realised what was going on and kept quiet as they were reaping the benefits. Hundreds of Gaddafi troops gave themselves up and also 11 countries recognised the NTC based on that misinformation! When self-centred Saif came out punching the air, he only fooled the journalists at the Rixos which is next to his barracks, actually on the same plot of land. So he was safely in the compound surroundings. Saif was vain and only screwed himself with his actions. Also reporters at the Rixos are starved of information (intentionally) so when he came in the middle of the night. They fell for it. Actually those journalists were saved today by the rebels and negotiators. They missed all the action. The rules at the Rixos were if anyone wrote a article perceived leaning towards the rebels, they were kicked out of the country. Sometimes after a good beating or detention. Ask the BBC, Guardian, Aljazeera, etc...

    Gaddafi has fallen and he has taken his sick family with him. What a loser! He's gone underground like a rat. We will catch him soon. The Libyan people are the winners and we will be enjoying our wealth for many years to come. We will share it with our friends, especially NATO. We love Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  7. Godfrey

    What Libya needs is a good beer at a fair price.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:55 am | Reply
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