Libya is awash with weapons.
Tripoli’s new masters are using their guns to guarantee order. But will that remain the case? Or will the ramshackle rebel ranks descend into chaos and conflict?
Many fighters told our reporter in the Libyan capital, Jamel Ezzedini, that they would be happy to return to civilian life.
“I am Libyan but I was studying in the United States,” said one armed man at a checkpoint.
“I came here to join the rebels and to ensure security for people. But after the revolution, I will hand in my gun and my badge. I plan to continue my studies in the US.”
Some however are embracing their new way of life, although they are eager to do so in a structured military environment.
Another armed fighter said: “I was studying architecture at university but I quit and joined the rebels here in Tripoli. I an going to continue on this path, in the army, to free Libya and finish with Gaddafi’s regime.”
Friday prayers in the capital were an opportunity for Libya’s newly-forming army to make its presence felt.
Its patrols may reassure the rebels’ international friends. With memories of Iraq fresh in many minds, restoring security is seen as the most urgent priority.
Euronews reporter Jamel Ezzedini said tanks have disappeared from the streets of Tripoli now.
He added that “armed men in civilian clothes are being replaced here, on Green Square, by uniformed men of the new army – destined to ensure the security of the population but also to collect thousands of weapons now in the hands of Libyans.”