The Washington Post reports: At the entrance to Tripoli’s main landfill, Mustafa al-Sepany stands in combat fatigues, wearing an expression that says no trash trucks will get past him. For four months, none has, leaving the country’s capital city wallowing in uncollected garbage.
Sepany is one of thousands of still-armed rebel fighters who ousted Libyan despot Moammar Gaddafi in last year’s bloody uprising. Now he is one of the residents near the landfill who are exercising their newfound freedoms by declaring they don’t want Tripoli’s trash. Anywhere but here, they say. And in post-revolution Libya, not-in-my-backyard fights come with automatic weapons.
“We will die before we let them open it again,” said Sepany, who was a notary before the revolution.
Libya, awash in cheery yellow wildflowers a year after the Arab Spring, is learning a bleak lesson: Unity does not bloom easily in a region where decision-making has long been concentrated in the hands of the few and where iron-fisted autocrats for decades papered over deep cultural, religious and ethnic differences.
In neighboring Egypt, the year since President Hosni Mubarak’s fall has been marked by breakdowns in law and order and by tensions between hard-line Islamists and secular liberals. In Syria, religious affiliation has emerged as an important dividing line as the army does battle with rebel forces, stoking fears of a broader war.
And in Libya, five months after the death of the man who managed to hold this country together by brute force, people are beginning to wonder whether there is any other way to do it. Clashes this past week between rival tribes in the southern oasis city of Sabha killed 147 people, officials said. Such has been the chaos that no one in Libya would be surprised if a trash spat ends in a gunfight.