Bremer: Libyan Stability Mainly Regional Burden

Thursday, 25 Aug 2011 03:22 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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The former U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, says most of the burden in rebuilding Libya will probably be borne by an international stabilization force, with the country’s Arab neighbors and Southern European nations in the forefront. Bremer also said on CNN Wednesday despot Moammar Gadhafi’s weapons caches must be secured.
 
“Rebuilding is not about mortar and bricks, — it’s about security first, then political reform, then economic regeneration — but security is job one,” Bremer told CNN’s Joe Johns. “I think, on the whole, the problems there really belong to the people in the region, to the Arabs and some of the African countries and particularly to the Southern Europeans. The French, the Italians, and the Spanish are the largest trading partners with Libya — and the French and the Italians have been involved in the NATO affair.

“So I think, in the end, if the Libyans can’t provide the security there — and I think there is an open question whether they can — some kind of international stabilization force will have to go in. And it seems to me those are the countries that should do the work,” said Bremer, who led the early effort to secure and rebuild Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Johns asked Bremer if there are any lessons gleaned from his work in Iraq that can be applied to Libya. Bremer said the two main issues are whether internal conflicts can be resolved — and by whom — and how to secure Gadhafi’s chemical weapons.

“You have, obviously, different groups from the east and the west and it’s not at all clear,” Bremer said. “Some of them are talking about dismantling militias. Well, whose militia is going to get dismantled by whom? So that’s question number one: Can they agree?

“And then, two, do they actually have the competence,” he asked. “What will be the role, if any, of the old security forces, the army, and, in particular, the police?”

Bremer said he is sure U.S. intelligence services are keeping a watchful look out for Gadhafi’s stash of weapons of mass destruction.
 
“Fortunately, as a result of the overthrow of Saddam, Gadhafi had given up his nuclear program,” he said. “As far as we know, what he has — we know he has them, because he’s used them — chemical weapons, as had Saddam Hussein.

“They can be very dangerous — and if you have a situation where security runs out of control, there’s a real risk that they fall into the hands of some really bad guys,” Bremer said.

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