Events in Tripoli last week made explicit the threat posed to the government by the militia groups, which killed scores of civilians peacefully protesting against their presence in the city. The massacres and the subsequent withdrawal by some militia groups from the capital prompted the government to be more assertive in Benghazi.

On 25 November fighting ensued in the city, prompted by a standoff between government forces and Islamist groups. The use of special forces against the Ansar al Shari’a militia, and the deployment of government troops in Tripoli a few days earlier marks a significant shift in the government’s stance towards the diffuse groups undermining its authority. It previously sought to avoid conflict and co-opt many of the militia’s into the security apparatus, a policy that failed to keep the former anti-Qadhafi rebels under control. (CONTINUED - 735 WORDS)