Who Are the Libyan Rebels?

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Of course, it should come as little surprise that the Libyan rebels apparently find themselves now locked in a deadly internal struggle. From the onset of the February uprising, it has been well known that the TNC is riddled with a rogue’s gallery of rival factions and alliances that are chock full of duplicitous characters, ranging from former Gaddafi loyalists to criminals to al Qaeda insurgents.

For starters, the Libyan rebel leader, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, has openly said jihadists who fought against US coalition forces in Iraq are well-represented in rebel ranks. While al-Hasidi has insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” he has also said, “The members of al Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.”

Of course, an al Qaeda presence in the TNC shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. According to the US military, Libya, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, contributed more than any other nation to the ranks of those forces fighting against the United States in Iraq. In fact, al-Hasidi has acknowledged that he personally fought against the “foreign invasion” in Afghanistan before being captured in 2002 in Pakistan and sent back to Libya in 2008.

Moreover, the TNC, which has reportedly sold chemical weapons to both Hamas and Hezbollah, has also been linked to supplying arms to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

In addition to the notorious nature of its membership, the Libyan rebels have been repeatedly accused of committing atrocities on a par with those of Gaddafi’s forces. Those allegations include, according to Human Rights Watch, Libyan rebels in the last month “burning homes, abusing women and looting hospitals, homes and shops.”

In fact, the Human Rights Watch report led Republican Senator John McCain, a staunch rebel supporter, to write TNC leader Jalil a letter on July 20 in which he stated, “It is because the TNC holds itself to such high democratic standards that it is necessary for you and the Council to take decisive action to bring any human rights abuses to an immediate halt.”

While McCain’s belief in the TNC’s “high democratic standards” may be subject for some debate, what isn’t in question is that the killing of Younes has now created so much distrust within the rivalries, conflicting agendas and alliances of the TNC that stability will be hard to come by, even if it can successfully oust Gaddafi.

However, the prospect that the rebels can overcome Gadaffi on the battlefield looks increasingly bleak. Gaddafi’s regime controls around 20 percent more territory than it did when the uprising began in February despite the recent launching of a rebel offensive in the western mountains near the Tunisian border; more than four months of sustained air strikes by NATO; and the defection of a number of Gaddafi’s senior commanders.

As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ Admiral Mike Mullen said only weeks ago, the war remains a “stalemate,” a status not too surprising when an operation is led without a clear strategy or exit route. To that end, it appears that England and France, the two leading nations in the fight against Gaddafi, may also be tiring of the game.

This was evident in a joint press conference last week when British foreign Secretary William Hague said “What happens to Gaddafi is ultimately a question for the Libyans.” Hague’s French counterpart, Alain Juppe, echoed that sentiment by saying that Gaddafi’s fate “is ultimately a question for Libyans to determine.”

So, for now, the fate of Gaddafi, his regime and the future direction of Libya remain as cloudy as ever. However, what is becoming clearer by the day is that even if Gaddafi does go away, all NATO may have done is trade one insane, brutal despot for a far larger and more deadly problem.

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  • mikidiki

    The idiotic do-gooders in office in Western countries have engaged in a conflict which they neither understood at the outset and subsequently are unable to end with heads held high. A shambles all round … and a very expensive one at that.

    • SpiritOf1683

      Yep, and there's no worse culprit than Cameron. He wanted his Falklands moment, never thinking about exactly who or what he was aiding. And as Cameron always thinks he's right and everyone else is wrong, there was no stopping him trying to topple Gaddaf and get compared with Thatcher. Never has a campaign been so ineptly handled as this one, and lets face it, no Government in history has made as many blunders in such a short time as Cameron's.

  • LindaRivera

    The U.S. backed Libya rebels are perpetrating a vicious genocide against Blacks.

    STOP THE GENOCIDE. If you care about human rights for Blacks and other innocents, please attend the rally!

    blackstarnews: That Brigade, of Libya's so-called rebels, backed by NATO and the White House, eliminated the Black population of Misurata and promised to do the same to Black Libyans once they seized control of the city of Tawergha, 25 miles away.

    On August 13, there will be a major demonstration and march in Harlem, starting at 10 AM at 110 Street and Malcolm X Boulevard to protest the U.S. involvement in NATO's war of aggression against Libya.

  • Steve

    Didn't Hillary say Younes was a reformer?

  • Abayomi

    hahaha I wish the gods from NATO should protect its dogs.

  • StephenD

    "In short, Obama has just handed both al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, two of the most powerful of our jihadist enemies, a major political victory."
    Not to mention $3.5 BILLION to start their bankroll.
    Tell me again, what has Obama ever done that a Socialist, Anti-American, Islamist leaning operative would not do. Yeah, I couldn’t think of anything either.
    How’s it go? “With friends like this….”

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    The "Libyan Rebels" are anyone who with US support creates enough mayhem in Libya to enable full access to steal the oil in the Gulf of Sirte. The line of death extends from Benghazi to Misrata. Therefore the "Rebels" are in Benghazi and Misrata.

  • Dominic Caraccilo

    The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored and we are a large part of why that has happened.