Sunday, March 06, 2011

Libya's Rebel Forces

What's happening in Libya has the scale of a civil war, though we can still hope it will be short. Derek Henry Flood takes a look at the rebels:
"Libya’s very ad hoc rebel movement does not currently appear to possess a clear command and control structure. According to a frontline spokesman, it is currently known as Jaysh-e-Libi al-Hurra (The Army of Free Libyan Forces) and the movement terms itself the 'February 17 Revolution,' denoting the day the uprising began in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and one-time dual capital until the 1960s. Tribes comprising the anti-Qaddafi forces include the Maghrebi, Zwaiye, Zawawi, Faqri, and Gebayli. They insist their fight in Libya is not a civil war but a revolution with the aim of overthrowing Colonel Qaddafi’s nearly 42-year reign and reunifying the country from its current state of bifurcation and fawda (anarchy). The local commander leading the surge against Tripoli’s advances is a defecting brigadier general named Mahdi al-Arabi, who is purportedly a cousin of Colonel Qaddafi. [2]

"Frontline forces, far removed from the intellectual architects of the provisional government being established in Benghazi, espouse no coherent political ideology. When pressed, the fighters profess no vision for the structure of a future state and have difficulty stating goals beyond the ouster of the current regime, other than vaguely stating 'we are fighting for freedom and democracy...

"Libya’s anti-Qaddafi fighters, having control of the roads in virtually all of Cyrenaica, are operating a highly efficient evacuation route for wounded civilians and combatants with the most serious cases being transported across sand blown highways to superior medical facilities in Benghazi.

"The key rebel objective is to consolidate control along the Mediterranean coast along the way to Sirte while coordinating with defecting forces in western Libya’s Tripolitania region in order to eventually mount an assault on Tripoli itself. Many of the fighters are untrained agriculturalists and pastoralists who have volunteered in droves as the movement against Qaddafi’s rule continued to gain momentum."

Is this Mahdi al-Arabi a possible successor to Qadhafi?



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