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Arms, borders, police: security issues in Libya (Libyan Deputy Prime Minister)

Mustafa Abushagur at the AFET Committee of the European Parliament on May 15, 2012 (Credit: European Parliament)

(BRUSSELS2) Border security and control of weapons stocks: these are the two priorities in terms of security retained by the Libyan Deputy Prime Minister, Mustafa Abushagur, who spoke yesterday with the MPs who are members of the Affairs Committee foreign affairs of the European Parliament. To do this, we must succeed in building an army and a police force, by integrating autonomous militias. EU support is necessary and appreciated.

Border security: to be built ex nihilo

With 4000km of land borders and 2000km at sea, this question is not trivial. It’s even a priority. to prevent mass immigration and trafficking in arms and human beings », According to the minister. But it is also a considerable challenge. “ The border police [is] non-existent ". You have to create it" from scratch ". This is what we do, says Mustafa Abushagur, by integrating “ young people who took part in the revolution ". And with the help of the EU, which deployed a needs assessment mission. Particularly for the southern borders. “This is where the bulk of immigration goes ". And for Europeans, this is what concerns them first. “We want to prevent new flows of illegal immigration and new tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea said Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on Monday (May 14). According to him, Europeans understand the " urgent need » that it is necessary to prevent this immigration rather than to fight it after the fact.

Arms stock control: avoiding the tank in the garden

For the transitional government, and for the future of the country more generally, arms control “After eight months of armed conflict » where all Libyans were involved in one way or another, is also a security priority. According to the Minister, almost all Libyan households find themselves with weapons in their homes. “ Some even have a tank in their backyard ". So there is " lots of weapons in the wild“. The government initially focused on heavy weapons in the cities “because they are the most dangerous”. “A large number of measures were taken so well that “there are almost more”, says Mustafa Abushagur. Next step:  “we are working with the military police to establish checkpoints to confiscate heavy weapons in the rest of the country. And here we come to the issue of borders, where arms control is " more difficult ». Cooperation with neighboring countries is not necessarily easy either. For example, Algeria was "fussy" to recognize the revolution. Generally speaking, it is the problem of lack of resources that the minister is pointing out.

Limited Libyan Security Force Capabilities: Integrating Militias

The challenge for the future is therefore to build a modern police force and army "able to protect the interests of the country ". As far as the police are concerned, structures already exist, the problem is to rebuild them, to revive them.

Thus, the government will continue to pay the salaries of 160 police officers " but they have to come back to work otherwise we will cut salaries ". For the army, on the other hand, we have to start from scratch, create the structures and find the personnel. There is a need for reconciliation between the different actors of the revolution. In particular, the difficulty is to give cohesion to the country's security forces. We must therefore integrate the autonomous militias and the Tuaregs, who represent a quarter of a million people. It is “important because they participated in the revolution ". You have to know what they want. “We would like them to meet to discuss what they want to do in the future”.

Of the 750, 000 have already been registered on the electoral lists, welcomes the minister. This provided information on their project: 230% would like to participate in the army or the police, 000% would like to exercise a liberal profession (“very good for reviving the economy "). Several workshops were organized for their integration, with the help and expertise of the EU. The minister also underlines the efforts already made by the EU to build modern security forces in Libya.
As MEPs noted, one of the ways to strengthen Libyan capacities is through the reappropriation of finances monopolized by Gaddafi and scattered throughout the world.

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