One of the most interesting stories from over the weekend was the move by people in Benghazi, Libya, against the armed extremist groups that had been operating in their city and which have been linked to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate there that left Ambassador Chris Stevens dead. The Associated Press adds that:
"Crowds stormed the headquarters of Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamic extremist group suspected in the Sept. 11 attack. ... They drove out the Ansar gunmen and set fire to cars in the compound — once a major base for Gadhafi's feared security forces — and then moved onto the base of a second Islamist militia, the Rafallah Sahati Brigade."
Today, NPR's Leila Fadel reported on Morning Edition about the relatively weak Libyan government's effort to get control over the dozens of militias that still operate after playing leading roles in the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi's regime last year.
Also today, in New York City at her husband's Clinton Global Initiative, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton put what has happened in Libya in some context and praised the people of Benghazi for their courage. From her prepared remarks:
"If you look around the world today, countries that are focused more on fostering growth than fomenting grievance are racing ahead. Building schools instead of burning them. Investing in their people's creativity, not inciting their rage. Opening their economies and societies to have more connections with the wider world, not shutting off the Internet or attacking embassies.
"The people of the Arab world did not set out to trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. There is no dignity in that. The people of Benghazi sent this message loud and clear on Friday when they forcefully rejected the extremists in their midst and reclaimed the honor of a courageous city. In the streets, they mourned the loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, a friend and champion of a free Libya, and his fallen comrades.
"They are not alone. People and leaders from across the region and beyond have spoken out in recent days against violence and hate. The foreign minister of Tunisia came to Washington last week to personally underscore his country's stand. And unity on this throughout the international community is crucial. Because extremists around the world are working hard to drive us apart. All of us need to stand together to resist these forces and to support the democratic transitions underway in North Africa and the Middle East."