Had a NATO force stayed for six months or a year and disarmed the militias town by town, says Karim Mezran, senior fellow with the Rafik Hariri Center, the current conflict could have been avoided. Even without foreign help, Mezran says, the Libyan government might have disarmed the militias if it had been a priority.
Inside Libya itself is a working example of how things might have gone: In the eastern city of Tobruk, local leaders chose to maintain the security structures that existed under the old regime, according to Mohamed el-Jarh, non-resident fellow with the Rafik Hariri Center based in Tobruk. Similarly, in el-Baydha, the city decided to disarm its militias early on. As a result, there is now police and army presence in both.