U.S. Agenda for Libya Must Include Securing of WMD, Arms Stockpiles

COMMENTARY Middle East

U.S. Agenda for Libya Must Include Securing of WMD, Arms Stockpiles

Aug 23rd, 2011 1 min read
COMMENTARY BY
James Phillips

Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

James Phillips is a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

Rebel forces reportedly took control of Muammar Qadhafi’s fortified Bab al-Aziziya command base in Tripoli today as they further consolidated control of the capital. Confusion reigned amid reports that Qadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, whom the opposition Transitional National Council had claimed to detain, apparently roamed free inside Tripoli rallying support for the regime.

As the murky situation in Tripoli gradually is sorted out, the United States must remain focused on the long-term goal of helping Libyans build a free, stable, and democratic Libya that will be an ally against terrorists. In the immediate aftermath of Qadhafi’s fall, Washington also must vigilantly ensure that his regime’s chemical weapons stockpiles and other dangerous weapons are secured with as much cooperation as possible from Libya’s new government, to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. Senator John McCain (R–AZ) today called for urgent action to find and secure Libyan chemical weapons stockpiles.

The Qadhafi regime reportedly had 10 tons of mustard gas, much of it stored at an arms depot south of Sirte, near Qadhafi’s hometown. NATO forces have been closely monitoring the depot, which appears to be well-guarded by regime forces, but action must be taken soon to prevent the contents from being moved by Qadhafi diehards or looted by local civilians, Islamist militias, or the disorganized rebel army.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal