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NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (NATO)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — NATO said on Monday it would help Libya rebuild a functioning military amid warnings about worsening turmoil in the country.

“We will establish a small advisory team to conduct this effort,” said a statement released by Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “(We) stand ready to consider providing assistance to Libya in areas where the Alliance can add value.”

The statement said NATO will respond “positively” to Libya’s request to provide advice on the building of defense structures.

Libya, which has barely had a functioning state since the fall of the Moammar Gadhafi regime in 2011, requested NATO’s help in May to set up its new armed forces.

NATO’s air support was instrumental in helping rebels overthrow Gadhafi’s regime. During a seven-month campaign NATO warplanes flew thousands of attack sorties against regime forces, eventually grinding them down and allowing the rebels to enter the capital Tripoli in October 2011. That same month Gadhafi was captured and killed following a NATO airstrike on his fleeing convoy.

But since then the security situation in Libya has grown increasingly chaotic, with armed militias and Islamist extremists controlling various parts of the nation and ignoring the weak central government in Tripoli. The authorities have sought to disarm the militias by paying them to hand in their weapons.

On Oct. 10, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was captured and briefly detained by an armed group in the capital. This came in the wake of a U.S. special operations raid there that captured and whisked away an accused al-Qaida operative.

Rasmussen said after Zeidan’s kidnapping and release that the alliance had already sent a team to Libya to assess conditions on the ground.

“I think it is clear to everybody that something needs to be done to ensure security in Libya,” Rasmussen said in a press conference from Brussels.

In September, Zeidan told CNN, “Libya is not a failing state. The state of Libya doesn’t exist yet. We are trying to create a state. And we are not ashamed of that.”

standifer.cid@stripes.com

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