Many off-base comparisons have been made between the wars in Iraq and Libya. But there is one critical mistake in the Iraq war the Obama administration would be wise to learn from. The Bush administration’s failure to secure Saddam’s Hussein’s massive weapons caches in the early months of the war is often cited as the primary reason the insurgency was able to successfully arm itself. Similarly, the threat from Libya’s loose weapons poses security challenges both inside the country and throughout the region.
Weapons caches in eastern Libya that were previously controlled by the Qaddafi regime remain unsecured according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Rebels have been using the available weapons to arm themselves against Qaddafi’s regime. But they may not be the only ones taking advantage of this opportunity.
These loose weapons present both security and humanitarian challenges. Because the weapons facilities are so poorly secured it is possible for mercenaries and terrorist groups to claim these weapons for themselves. Once armed, these groups could pose a threat to Libyan, regional, and American security.
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