Clinton brings unity message on visit to new Libya


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Libya on Tuesday to urge its disparate militias to unite around their new leaders, while loyalists of ousted Muammar Gaddafi launched a counter-attack in his hometown of Sirte.
Clinton is the most senior U.S. official to come to Tripoli since Gaddafi’s 42-year rule ended in August. Her visit was marked by tight security, reflecting worries that Libya’s new rulers have yet to establish full control over the country.
Speaking after meeting Libya’s de facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, she spoke of the need to bring the powerful and heavily-armed regional militias that emerged from the war to oust Gaddafi under central rule.
“We are encouraged by the commitment of the National Transitional Council (NTC) to take the steps necessary to bring the country together,” Clinton said.
“From long experience one factor we know has to happen … is unifying the various militias into a single military … Getting a national army under civilian command is essential.”
Though the militias express loyalty to the new government, many analysts see them as the biggest threat to Libya’s unity.
The United States took part in the NATO bombing campaign that helped Libya’s interim government take power, although its aircraft largely played a secondary role to those of Britain and France.
“I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Tripoli and on behalf of the American people I congratulate Libya,” Clinton said. “This is Libya’s moment, this is Libya’s victory, the future belongs to you.”