Essam Mohamed Fighters for Libya's anti-Gaddafi government, October 17, 2011Turkey, Italy, and Britain are leading the way with promises to train around 8,000 troops and police in skills from infantry basics to forensics. Other recruits are graduating from programs in Jordan.

But Western military support is in its infancy. The army struggles even to pin down how many troops it has, including new recruits, ex-Gaddafi soldiers and militiamen drafted into the ranks. . . .

Parliament is deadlocked between the mainly liberal National Forces Alliance, often linked to militia fighters from the mountain redoubt of Zintan, and the Justice and Construction party or JCP, a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, frequently associated with fighters from coastal Misrata and Tripoli. . . .

“We can do capacity building and training and advice, but ultimately if the Libyans don’t sort out the basic political problem then it is all on the margins,” one Western diplomat said. “They need to come to some national consensus about what kind of country they want. . . .”

Former fighters have plagued Libya’s central government since the fall of Tripoli in August 2011 when rebels from rival cities into the capital and entrenched themselves in fiefdoms.

This year former rebel commanders in the east and tribes in the west have taken over gas pipelines, ports and oilfields, cutting off crude shipments to demand ethnic or regional rights.

Balanced against those militia, officials say the army has 5,000 troops in training overseas and 10,000 in Libya. At least 3,000 were in Tripoli after the militia withdrawal last month and special forces units are in Benghazi, one diplomat said.

Italy and Turkey are training police. Britain will start early next year giving training to 2,000 infantry troops with instruction mostly given overseas.

Washington is still considering cooperation proposals, including a plan for groups of Libyan soldiers to rotate though Bulgaria for training. . . .

Turkey trained 800 police cadets who graduated in February, but so far Libya has been unable to send a second batch because of state “decision-making” problems, one official said.

“We set up training. On day one, no one shows up. The second day, they promise us eight recruits, and only two show up. It’s frustrating,” another diplomat said. . . .

“They are trying to reform a non-system, they are trying to reform what didn’t operate and make it into a rational system at break-neck speed,” said Peter Rundell, deputy head of an EU mission that trains border guards and customs workers.

Increasing Western aid could not come too soon for Zeidan’s fragile government. The Libyan premier may now see a chance to capitalize on growing popular discontent with the militias to speed up recruitment and regain some control of the capital. . . .

Armed protests at oil ports and production facilities have cut the country’s oil exports to 10 percent of the normal 1.4 million barrels per day output and forced the government to import fuel and cut back on electricity in the capital.