Hillary: ‘Libyans and Arabs Across the Region Have Firmly Rejected the Extremist Argument’

Melanie Arter | October 15, 2012 | 11:06am EDT
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the U.N. Security Council in New York on September 30, 2009. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sits to her right. (U.N. Photo by Marco Castro)

(CNSNews.com) During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on Friday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Arabs have “firmly rejected the extremist argument.”

“By starting down the path of Democratic politics, Libyans and Arabs across the region have firmly rejected the extremist argument that violence and death are the only way to reclaim dignity and achieve justice,” Clinton said.

Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

“In Tripoli, the country’s transitional leaders condemned the attack. They fired the top security officials responsible for Benghazi. Then the government issued an ultimatum to militias across the country: disarm and disband in 48 hours or face the consequences. As many as 10 major armed groups complied,” Clinton said.

“Now militias and extremists remain a significant problem in Libya, but there is an effort to address it that has now taken hold throughout the country,” she added.

“As Libya grapples with the challenges of forming a government, the international community needs to support its efforts to bring these militias to heel and provide security for all of its citizens,” Clinton said.

According to the State Department’s website, “After the February 2011 uprising, various militias have supplanted the police in maintaining internal security. Militia members operate checkpoints within and between major cities.

“Libyan militia members are poorly trained and loosely affiliated with the interim government, which has not yet fully reconstituted the national army and police. The Embassy receives frequent reports of clashes between rival militias and occasional reports of vigilante revenge killings,” it added.

“Foreigners have been detained by militia groups, often for arbitrary or unclear reasons and without access to a lawyer,” the State Department said. And crime levels in Tripoli, specifically have increased “significantly,” with “increased reports of armed robbery, carjacking, burglary, and crimes involving weapons.”

“The Libyan police and internal security institutions have not fully reconstituted themselves since the revolution, and the majority of the 16,000 criminals released from prisons by the former regime remain at large,” the State Department said.

“Hundreds of thousands of small arms looted from government storage facilities are now in the hands of the local population, which has also contributed to the rise in violent crime,” it added.

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