x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Libyan militia run amok

Some ways of disputing a hotel bill make less sense than others.

We know those room-service charges can get out of control, but the method one Libyan revolutionary chose to settle his hotel bill is not recommended.

On Saturday, members of a Zintan militia burst into the luxury hotel Rixos in Tripoli, firing live rounds and kidnapping the hotel's manager. All of this because the hotel demanded that a militia member pay an outstanding bill or vacate a room he had resided in for six months. Fortunately, no one was killed.

While the news that Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council, had offered a formal apology yesterday was welcome, the incident highlights the instability sweeping the new Libya. But as long as tribal militias and rebel factions continue to carry weapons, such lawlessness is to be expected.

The incident recalls the darkest days of Lebanon's civil war and incidents that have taken place in some of Iraq's more lawless regions.

If Libya is to avoid similar prolonged civil strife, those who contributed to Muammar Qaddafi's fall must be willing to abandon their misplaced sense of entitlement. And, of course, their weapons.