Muslim World News | Libya

Muslim World News | Libya

The Imminent Fall of Libya?

Muhammad ‘Abd al-Haqq

Rebels are engaging Qadhafi forces in the Green Square of Tripoli, Libya‘s capital as we write this post. The major questions that this new push arouses are :

1. Is the Fall of the Qaddhafi regime imminent?

2. What type of of revolution is this? Islamic, “Islamist“, civil democratic”, or simply an Imperialist bait and switch[like Egypt], in which the despotic ruler is replaced but the regime color and Western/Imperialist friendly policies remain.

3. who will rule Libya if the rebels are ultimately successful? Is there one authoriative ruler that all the Libyan rulers can rally around?

Libyan rebels: Unit protecting Gadhafi surrenders

By BEN HUBBARD – Associated Press,KARIN LAUB – Associated Press | AP

  • Rebel fighters look towards the enemy as they hear the sound of bombardments in the …
  • People celebrate the recent news of uprising in Tripoli against Moammar Gadhafi‘s …

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — A senior rebel official says the military unit in charge of protecting Moammar Gadhafi and the capital Tripoli has surrendered. Mahmoud Shammam, the rebel minister of information, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the unit commander “has joined the revolution and ordered his soldiers to drop their weapons.”

When the unit dropped its arms, it essentially opened the way for the rebels to enter the city with little resistance.

Rebels say Gaddafi son Saif Al-Islam captured

ReutersBy Tarek Amara | Reuters

  • Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, attends a news conference …

TUNIS (Reuters) – Libya’s rebels have captured Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam, the head of the rebel National Transitional Council told Al Jazeera television on Sunday.

“We have confirmed information that our guys have captured Saif Al-Islam,” Mustapha Abd El Jalil said. “We have given instructions to treat him well so that he can face trial.”

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Libyan rebels enter Tripoli, arrest Gadhafi’s son

RIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Euphoric Libyan rebels raced into the capital Tripoli on Sunday and moved close to center with little resistance as Moammar Gadhafi’s defenders melted away. Opposition leaders said Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, has been arrested.

Associated Press reporters with the rebels said the fighters moved easily from the western outskirts into the regime stronghold in a dramatic turning of the tides in the 6-month-old Libyan civil war.

“They will enter Green Square tonight, God willing,” said Mohammed al-Zawi, a 30-year-old rebel who entered Tripoli. Green Square has been the site of night rallies by Gadhafi supporters throughout the uprising.

Gadhafi’s rule of more than 40 years appeared to be rapidly crumbling.

Earlier in the day, the rebels overran a major military base defending the capital, carted away truckloads of weapons and raced to Tripoli with virtually no resistance.

Gadhafi’s whereabouts were unknown. But he delivered a series of angry and defiant audio messages broadcast on state television. He was not shown in the messages.

In the latest one, he acknowledged that the opposition forces were moving into Tripoli and warned the city would be turned into another Baghdad.

“How come you allow Tripoli the capital, to be under occupation once again?” he said. “The traitors are paving the way for the occupation forces to be deployed in Tripoli.”

He called on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and “purify it” from “the rats.”

The rebels’ surprising and speedy leap forward, after six months of largely deadlocked civil war, was packed into just a few dramatic hours. By nightfall, they had advanced more than 20 miles to Tripoli.

Thousands of jubilant civilians rushed out of their homes to cheer the long convoys of pickup trucks packed with rebel fighters shooting in the air. Some of the fighters were hoarse, shouting: “We are coming for you, frizz-head,” a mocking nickname for Gadhafi. In villages along the way that fell to the rebels one after another, mosque loudspeakers blared “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great.”

“We are going to sacrifice our lives for freedom,” said Nabil al-Ghowail, a 30-year-old dentist holding a rifle in the streets of Janzour, a suburb just six miles west of Tripoli. Heavy gunfire erupted nearby.

As town after town fell and Gadhafi forces disappeared, the mood turned euphoric. Some shouted: “We are getting to Tripoli tonight.” Others were shooting in the air, honking horns and yelling “Allahu Akbar.”

Once they reached Tripoli, the rebels took control of one neighborhood, Ghot Shaal, on the western edge of the city. They set up checkpoints as a convoy of more than 10 trucks rolled in.

The rebels moved on to the neighborhood of Girgash, about a mile and a half from Green Square. They said they came under fire from a sniper on a rooftop in the neighborhood.

Sidiq al-Kibir, the rebel leadership council’s representative for the capital Tripoli, confirmed the arrest of Seif al-Islam to the AP but did not give any further details.

Inside Tripoli, widespread clashes erupted for a second day between rebel “sleeper cells” and Gadhafi loyalists. Rebels fighter who spoke to relatives in Tripoli by phone said hundreds rushed into the streets in anti-regime protests in several neighborhoods.

The day’s first breakthrough came when hundreds of rebels fought their way into a major symbol of the Gadhafi regime — the base of the elite 32nd Brigade commanded by Gadhafi’s son, Khamis. Fighters said they met with little resistance. They were 16 miles from the big prize, Tripoli.

Hundreds of rebels cheered wildly and danced as they took over the compound filled with eucalyptus trees, raising their tricolor from the front gate and tearing down a large billboard of Gadhafi.

Inside, they cracked open wooden crates labeled “Libyan Armed Forces” and loaded their trucks with huge quantities of munitions. One of the rebels carried off a tube of grenades, while another carted off two mortars.

“This is the wealth of the Libyan people that he was using against us,” said Ahmed al-Ajdal, 27, pointing to his haul. “Now we will use it against him and any other dictator who goes against the Libyan people.”

One group started up a tank, drove it out of the gate, crushing the median of the main highway and driving off toward Tripoli. Rebels celebrated the capture with deafening amounts of celebratory gunfire, filling the air with smoke.

Across the street, rebels raided a huge warehouse, making off with hundreds of crates of rockets, artillery shells and large-caliber ammunition. The warehouse had once been using to storage packaged foods, and in the back, cans of beans were still stacked toward the ceiling.

They freed several hundred prisoners from a regime lockup. The fighters and the prisoners — many looking weak and dazed and showing scars and bruises from beatings — embraced and wept with joy.

The prisoners had been held in the walled compound and when the rebels rushed in, they freed more than 300 of them.

“We were sitting in our cells when all of a sudden we heard lots of gunfire and people yelling ‘Allahu Akbar.’ We didn’t know what was happening, and then we saw rebels running in and saying ‘We’re on your side.’ And they let us out,” said 23-year-old Majid al-Hodeiri from Zawiya. He said he was captured four months ago by Gadhafi’s forces and taken to base. He said he was beaten and tortured while under detention.

Many of the prisoners looked disoriented as they stopped at a gathering place for fighters several miles away from the base. Some had signs of severe beatings. Others were dressed in tattered T-shirts or barefoot. Rebels fighters and prisoners embraced.

From the military base, the convoy sped toward the capital.

Mahmoud al-Ghwei, 20 and unarmed, said he had just came along with a friend for the ride .

“It’s a great feeling. For all these years, we wanted freedom and Gadhafi kept it from us. Now we’re going to get rid of Gadhafi and get our freedom,” he said.

At nightfall, the fighters reached Janzour, a Tripoli suburb. Along the way, they were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags. One man grabbed a rebel flag that had been draped over the hood of a slow-moving car and kissed it, overcome with emotion.

“We are not going back,” said Issam Wallani, another rebel. “God willing, this evening we will enter Tripoli.”

The uprising against Gadhafi broke out in mid-February, and anti-regime protests quickly spread across the vast desert nation with only 6 million people. A brutal regime crackdown quickly transformed the protests into an armed rebellion. Rebels seized Libya’s east, setting up an internationally recognized transitional government there, and two pockets in the west, the port city of Misrata and the Nafusa mountain range.

Gadhafi clung to the remaining territory, and his forces failed to subdue the rebellion in Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, and in the Nafusa mountains. Since the start of August, thousands of rebel fighters, including many who fled Gadhafi-held cities, joined an offensive launched from the mountains toward the coast.

The fighters who had set out from the mountains three weeks ago rushed toward Tripoli on Sunday, start out at dawn from a village just east of the coastal city of Zawiya. Only a day earlier had the rebels claimed full control of Zawiya, an anti-regime stronghold with 200,000 people and Libya’s last functioning oil refinery.

Rebels said Saturday that they had launched their first attack on Tripoli in coordination with NATO and gunbattles and mortar rounds rocked the city. NATO aircraft also made heavier than usual bombing runs after nightfall, with loud explosions booming across the city.

On Sunday, more heavy machine gun fire and explosions rang out across the capital with more clashes and protests.

Government minders in a hotel where foreign journalists have been staying in Tripoli armed themselves on Sunday in anticipation of a rebel take over. The hotel manager said he had received calls from angry rebels threatening to charge the hotel to capture the government’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim.

Heavy gun fire was heard in the neighborhood around the Rixos hotel, and smoke was seen rising from a close by building.

“We are scared and staying in our houses, but the younger boys are going out to protect our homes,” said a woman who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from the pro-rebel Tripoli neighborhood of Bin Ashour. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. She said a neighbor’s son was shot dead on Saturday night by Gadhafi troops as he tried to protect his street with a group of rebel youth.

Nuri al-Zawi, another resident of Bin Ashour, told the AP by phone that the rebels were using light arms to protect their streets, and in some cases were using only their bodies to fend off the Gadhafi troops riding in pickup trucks.

“We are used to this situation now. We are a city that is cut off from the world now,” he said.

The residents reported clashes in neighborhoods all over Tripoli as well as the city’s Mitiga military airport. They said they heard loud explosions and exchanges in of gunfire in the Fashloum, Tajoura and Bin Ashour neighborhoods.

Residents and opposition fighters also reported large anti-regime protests in those same neighborhoods. In some of them, thousands braved the bullets of snipers perched atop high buildings.

___

Laub and Hubbard reported from Janzour, Libya. Hadeel Al-Shalchi in Cairo contributed to this report.

By BEN HUBBARD – Associated Press,DARIO LOPEZ – Associated Press,KARIN LAUB – Associated Press | AP –

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libyan rebels have entered the capital Tripoli and are within two miles of the city center.

Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they met little resistance Sunday as Moammar Gadhafi’s defenders appeared to melt away.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The trappings of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime crumbled Sunday as hundreds of euphoric Libyan rebels overran a major military base defending the capital, carted away truckloads of weapons and raced to the outskirts of Tripoli with virtually no resistance.

The rebels’ surprising and speedy leap forward, after six months of largely deadlocked civil war, was packed into just a few dramatic hours. By nightfall, they had advanced more than 20 miles to the edge of Gadhafi’s last major bastion of support.

Along the way, they freed several hundred prisoners from a regime lockup. The fighters and the prisoners — many looking weak and dazed and showing scars and bruises from beatings — embraced and wept with joy.

Thousands of jubilant civilians rushed out of their homes to cheer the long convoys of pickup trucks packed with rebel fighters shooting in the air. Some were hoarse, shouting: “We are coming for you, frizz-head,” a mocking nickname for Gadhafi. In villages along the way that fell to the rebels one after another, mosque loudspeakers blared “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great.”

“We are going to sacrifice our lives for freedom,” said Nabil al-Ghowail, a 30-year-old dentist holding a rifle in the streets of Janzour, a suburb just six miles west of Tripoli. Heavy gunfire erupted nearby.

As town after town fell and Gadhafi forces melted away, the mood turned euphoric. Some shouted: “We are getting to Tripoli tonight.” Others were shooting in the air, honking horns and yelling “Allahu Akbar.”

Inside Tripoli, widespread clashes erupted for a second day between rebel “sleeper cells” and Gadhafi loyalists. Rebels fighter who spoke to relatives in Tripoli by phone said hundreds rushed into the streets in anti-regime protests in several neighborhoods.

Libyan state television aired an angry audio message from Gadhafi Sunday night, urging families in Tripoli to arm themselves and fight for the capital.

“The time is now to fight for your politics, your oil, your land,” he said. “I am with you in Tripoli — together until the ends of the earth,” Gadhafi shouted.

The day’s first breakthrough came when hundreds of rebels fought their way into a major symbol of the Gadhafi regime — the base of the elite 32nd Brigade commanded by Gadhafi’s son, Khamis. Fighters said they met with little resistance.

Hundreds of rebels cheered wildly and danced as they took over the compound filled with eucalyptus trees, raising their tricolor from the front gate and tearing down a large billboard of Gadhafi.

Inside, they cracked open wooden crates labeled “Libyan Armed Forces” and loaded their trucks with huge quantities of munitions. One of the rebels carried off a tube of grenades, while another carted off two mortars.

“This is the wealth of the Libyan people that he was using against us,” said Ahmed al-Ajdal, 27, pointing to his haul. “Now we will use it against him and any other dictator who goes against the Libyan people.”

One group started up a tank, drove it out of the gate, crushing the median of the main highway and driving off toward Tripoli. Rebels celebrated the capture with deafening amounts of celebratory gunfire, filling the air with smoke.

Across the street, rebels raided a huge warehouse, making off with hundreds of crates of rockets, artillery shells and large-caliber ammunition. The warehouse had once been using to storage packaged foods, and in the back, cans of beans were still stacked toward the ceiling.

The prisoners had been held in the walled compound and when the rebels rushed in, they freed more than 300 of them.

“We were sitting in our cells when all of a sudden we heard lots of gunfire and people yelling ‘Allahu Akbar.’ We didn’t know what was happening, and then we saw rebels running in and saying ‘We’re on your side.’ And they let us out,” said 23-year-old Majid al-Hodeiri from Zawiya. He said he was captured four months ago by Gadhafi’s forces and taken to base. He said he was beaten and tortured while under detention.

Many of the prisoners looked disoriented as they stopped at a gathering place for fighters several miles away from the base. Some had signs of severe beatings. Others were dressed in tattered T-shirts or barefoot. Rebels fighters and prisoners embraced.

From the military base, about 16 miles west of Tripoli, the convoy pushed on toward the capital.

Mahmoud al-Ghwei, 20 and unarmed, said he had just came along with a friend for the ride .

“It’s a great feeling. For all these years, we wanted freedom and Gadhafi kept it from us. Now we’re going to get rid of Gadhafi and get our freedom,” he said.

At nightfall, the fighters reached Janzour, a Tripoli suburb. Along the way, they were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags. One man grabbed a rebel flag that had been draped over the hood of a slow-moving car and kissed it, overcome with emotion.

“We are not going back,” said Issam Wallani, another rebel. “God willing, this evening we will enter Tripoli.”

The uprising against Gadhafi broke out in mid-February, and anti-regime protests quickly spread across the vast desert nation with only 6 million people. A brutal regime crackdown quickly transformed the protests into an armed rebellion. Rebels seized Libya’s east, setting up an internationally recognized transitional government there, and two pockets in the west, the port city of Misrata and the Nafusa mountain range.

Gadhafi clung to the remaining territory, and his forces failed to subdue the rebellion in Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, and in the Nafusa mountains. Since the start of August, thousands of rebel fighters, including many who fled Gadhafi-held cities, joined an offensive launched from the mountains toward the coast.

The fighters who had set out from the mountains three weeks ago rushed toward Tripoli on Sunday, start out at dawn from a village just east of the coastal city of Zawiya. Only a day earlier had the rebels claimed full control of Zawiya, an anti-regime stronghold with 200,000 people and Libya’s last functioning oil refinery.

Rebels said Saturday that they had launched their first attack on Tripoli in coordination with NATO and gunbattles and mortar rounds rocked the city. NATO aircraft also made heavier than usual bombing runs after nightfall, with loud explosions booming across the city.

On Sunday, more heavy machine gun fire and explosions rang out across the capital with more clashes and protests.

Government minders in a hotel where foreign journalists have been staying in Tripoli armed themselves on Sunday in anticipation of a rebel take over. The hotel manager said he had received calls from angry rebels threatening to charge the hotel to capture the government’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim.

Heavy gun fire was heard in the neighborhood around the Rixos hotel, and smoke was seen rising from a close by building.

“We are scared and staying in our houses, but the younger boys are going out to protect our homes,” said a woman who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from the pro-rebel Tripoli neighborhood of Bin Ashour. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. She said a neighbor’s son was shot dead on Saturday night by Gadhafi troops as he tried to protect his street with a group of rebel youth.

Nuri al-Zawi, another resident of Bin Ashour, told the AP by phone that the rebels were using light arms to protect their streets, and in some cases were using only their bodies to fend off the Gadhafi troops riding in pickup trucks.

“We are used to this situation now. We are a city that is cut off from the world now,” he said.

The residents reported clashes in neighborhoods all over Tripoli as well as the city’s Mitiga military airport. They said they heard loud explosions and exchanges in of gunfire in the Fashloum, Tajoura and Bin Ashour neighborhoods. Residents and opposition fighters also reported large anti-regime protests in those same neighborhoods. In some of them, thousands braved the bullets of snipers perched atop high buildings.

Mukhtar Lahab, a rebel commander closing in on Tripoli and a former captain in Gadhafi’s army, said his relatives inside the capital reported mass protests in four neighborhoods known as sympathetic to the opposition: Fashloum, Souk al-Jouma, Tajoura and Janzour. He said mosques there were rallying residents with chants of “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great,” broadcast on loudspeakers.

___

Laub and Hubbard reported from Janzour, Libya. Hadeel Al-Shalchi in Cairo and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.

Rebels reach Tripoli, no sign of resistance

ReutersBy Ulf Laessing and Missy Ryan | Reuters

AL-MAYA/TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Rebel fighters streamed into the outskirts of Tripoli on Sunday with little sign of resistance, despite a call by Muammar Gaddafi for citizens to take up arms and save his 41-year-old regime from annihilation.

A convoy of rebels entered a western neighborhood of the city firing their weapons into the air, a witness said. Sky television said some fighters were only 8 km (five miles) from the center and were being welcomed by civilians pouring into the streets.

Thousands of rebel fighters were seen earlier in the day 20 km (12 miles) west of the city center, aiming to join fighters inside who began an uprising late on Saturday, a Reuters correspondent said.

“I am afraid if we don’t act, they will burn Tripoli,” Gaddafi said in an audio address broadcast on state television. “There will be no more water, food, electricity or freedom.”

Bursts of gunfire and blasts from rocket-propelled grenades rang out near a hotel in Tripoli where foreign media are staying, a Reuters correspondent in the hotel said.

In a coordinated revolt that rebels have been secretly planning for months to end Gaddafi’s 41-year rule, shooting started on Saturday night across Tripoli moments after Muslim clerics, using the loudspeakers of mosque minarets, called people on to the streets.

The fighting inside Tripoli, combined with rebel advances into the outskirts of the city, appeared to signal the decisive phase in a six-month conflict that has become the bloodiest of the “Arab Spring” uprisings and embroiled NATO powers.

Gaddafi, in his second audio broadcast in 24 hours, dismissed the rebels as rats.

“I am giving the order to open the weapons stockpiles,” Gaddafi said. “I call on all Libyans to join this fight. Those who are afraid, give your weapons to your mothers or sisters.

“Go out, I am with you until the end. I am in Tripoli. We will … win.”

A Libyan government official told Reuters that 376 people on both sides of the conflict were killed in fighting overnight on Saturday in Tripoli, with about 1,000 others wounded.

“Gaddafi’s chances for a safe exit are diminishing by the hour,” said Ashour Shamis, a Libyan opposition activist and editor based in Britain.

But Gaddafi’s fall, after four decades in power, is far from certain. His security forces did not buckle, and the city is much bigger than anything the mostly amateur anti-Gaddafi fighters, with their scavenged weapons and mismatched uniforms, have ever tackled.

If the Libyan leader is forced from power, there are question marks over whether the opposition can restore stability in this oil exporting country. The rebels’ own ranks have been racked by disputes and rivalry.

RAPID ADVANCE

Rebels said after a night of heavy fighting they controlled a handful of city neighbourhoods. Whether they hold on could depend on the speed with which the other rebels reach Tripoli.

“The rebels may have risen too early in Tripoli and the result could be a lot of messy fighting,” said Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya. “The regime may not have collapsed in the city to quite the extent they think it has.”

But the rebel advance toward the city has been rapid. In the past 48 hours, the rebels west of Tripoli have advanced about 30 km, halving the distance between them and the capital.

Government forces put up a brief fight at the village of Al-Maya, leaving behind a burned-out tank and cars that had been torched. “I am very happy,” said one resident.

Anti-Gaddafi fighters streaming through paused long enough to daub graffiti on walls in the village. One read “We are here and we are fighting Gaddafi,” another “God is great.” They then moved on toward Tripoli.

In Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city where the anti-Gaddafi revolt started and where the rebels have their main stronghold, a senior official said everything was going according to plan.

“Our revolutionaries are controlling several neighbourhoods and others are coming in from outside the city to join their brothers at this time,” Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairman of the rebel National Transition Council, told Reuters.

A spokesman for Gaddafi, in a briefing for foreign reporters, underlined the message of defiance.

The armed units defending Tripoli from the rebels “wholeheartedly believe that if this city is captured the blood will run everywhere so they may as well fight to the end,” said spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.

“We hold Mr Obama, Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy morally responsible for every single unnecessary death that takes place in this country,” he said.

SNIPERS ON ROOFTOPS

A diplomatic source in Paris, where the government has closely backed the rebels, said underground rebel cells in the capital had been following detailed plans drawn up months ago and had been waiting for a signal to act.

That signal was “iftar” — the moment when Muslims observing the holy months of Ramadan break their daily fast. It was at this moment that imams started broadcasting their message from the mosques, residents said.

But the overnight fighting inside the city, while fierce, was not decisive. Rebels said they controlled all or parts of the Tajourah, Fashloom and Souk al-Jumaa neighourhoods, yet there was no city-wide rebellion.

In Tripoli on Sunday, the two sides appeared to be jockeying for control of roof terraces to use as firing positions, possibly in preparation for a new burst of fighting after dark.

A rebel activist in the city said pro-Gaddafi forces had put snipers on the rooftops of buildings around Bab al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi’s compound, and on the top of a nearby water tower.

As he spoke, single gunshots could be heard in the background, at intervals of a few seconds.

“Gaddafi’s forces are getting reinforcements to comb the capital,” said the activist, who spoke by telephone to a Reuters reporter outside Libya.

“Residents are crying, seeking help. One resident was martyred, many were wounded,” he said. It was not immediately possible to verify his account independently. (Additional reporting by Missy Ryan in Tripoli, Robert Birsel in Benghazi, Libya, William Maclean in London, Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Writing by Christian Lowe and Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Who can unite Libya if Gaddafi falls?

ReutersBy Michael Georgy | Reuters

  • Irish-Libyan rebel fighter Husam Najjair speaks to reporters at a front line checkpoint …

NALUT, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan rebel Husam Najjair seems more concerned about the possibility of rebels turning on each other when they try to take control of the capital Tripoli than the threat posed by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

This is a very real concern as the only thing uniting these disparate rebel groups at the moment is the desire to remove Qadhafi from power.

“The first thing my brigade will do is set up checkpoints to disarm everyone, including other rebel groups, because otherwise it will be a bloodbath,” said Najjair. “All the rebel groups will want to control Tripoli. Order will be needed.”

Will there be one unifying figure to rally the rebels and create a coalition capable of forming a viable post-Qadhafi government?”Right now the resounding answer seems to be no.

“There isn’t one rebel leader who is respected by everyone. That’s the problem,” said Kamran Bokhari, Middle East Director at STRATFOR global intelligence firm.

Gaddafi ran the North African oil producing-country like a cult, without state institutions that would make any transition easier for the rebels, who have plenty of spirit but lack a proper chain of command.

They are also weighed down by factionalism and ethnic and tribal divisions.

The most prominent rebel leader is Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), a disparate group of Gaddafi opponents based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

It consists of former government ministers and longstanding opposition members who represent wide-ranging views including Arab nationalism, Islamists, secularists, socialists and businessmen.

The recipe for disaster exists as former government ministers, ardent liberal secularists try to form a coalition government with tribal factions, socialists, social elites and “Islamists”[read;Ikhwani/Qutubis].

A former justice minister, the soft-spoken Abdel Jalil was described as a “fair-minded technocrat” in a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

A mild-mannered consensus builder in his late 50s, he was praised by Human Rights Watch for his work on Libya’s criminal code reform. Abdel Jalil resigned as justice minister in February when violence was used against protestors.

But like other former members of Gaddafi’s inner circle, he will always be viewed with suspicion by some rebels who want completely new faces with no past links to the regime running the country.

The prime minister of the rebels’ shadow government, Mahmoud Jibril, a former top development official under Gaddafi, has extensive foreign contacts and has been the rebels’ roving envoy.

But his travels have frustrated some colleagues and foreign backers so his experience and contact building will have been wasted if he is not part of any new administration.

Another prominent rebel who may play a future leadership role is Ali Tarhouni. The U.S.-based academic and opposition figure in exile returned to Libya to take charge of economic, financial and oil matters for the rebels.

IRAQ LESSONS

Tensions between life-long opponents of Gaddafi and his supporters who recently defected to the rebel side may undermine efforts to choose an effective leadership.

If hardliners prevail, Libya could make the same mistake that analysts say was made in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

His Baath Party supporters and army officers were purged en masse, creating a power vacuum that led to instability for years as everyone from his secular backers to al Qaeda waged a violent campaign against Iraq’s new U.S.-backed rulers.

“You cannot make a rule that anyone who worked for Gaddafi cannot work with us. It’s not practical at all,” said Ashour Shamis, a United Kingdom-based Libyan opposition activist.

Such an approach would undermine efforts to bring back capable people to undertake perhaps the most critical task of all — revitalizing the oil industry.

Those who want to put aside animosities for the sake of rebuilding the country’s energy sector may want to turn to its former top official Shokri Ghanem for help.

The Western-educated Ghanem, who defected, has decades of experience in the oil sector and is a former prime minister credited with liberalizing the Libyan economy and accelerating the opening of the country to global petroleum investment.

Bringing people like Ghanem back will depend to a great extent on whether rebels will be willing to put aside their differences and take a practical view of Libya’s future.

FRACTIONALISM

Judging by realities on the ground, it won’t be easy.

Take the Western Mountains region, where rebels recently made the most dramatic gains in months.

The fighters showed far more discipline as they swept through towns and villages in the plains and eventually reached Zawiyah, about a 30 minute drive from Tripoli.

Beneath the surface, the rebels were torn apart by divisions and factionalism. Berber and Arab villages look at each other with disdain.

Rebels refer to themselves as the fighters from village x or village y, not the rebels of Libya. When journalists want to reach frontlines, they are told to get written permission from whichever rebel is in charge of a specific area.

Najjair, an Irish-Libyan who left behind his life as a building contractor to take up arms against Gaddafi, constantly went on about how his Tripoli Brigade was the best-suited to seize the capital because its members were all from Tripoli.

“We are the most organized. But we get the least help from the other rebel groups,” was his constant complaint.

As the rebels close in on Tripoli, the common cause of fighting Gaddafi could ease divisions.

A hint of what could be in store is the still unexplained July 28 killing of the rebels’ military commander, Abdel Fattah Younes, a former top Gaddafi security official, after he was taken into custody by his own side for questioning.

The killing has raised fears that the NTC is too weak and fractured to halt a slide into bloodshed as rival factions, including Islamists, bid for power.

An increasing number of fighters in the Western Mountains, for instance, are growing long, thick beards, the trademark of Islamists who are likely to reject close ties with the West in a new Libya, while others cry out for foreign investment.

They may also argue that the rebels from the Western Mountains and the city of Misrata should be given the most powerful positions in any new government since they did most of the fighting while the ones in Benghazi dealt with administration.

The bitterness was palpable on the frontlines along the desert plains in the West, even though different rebel groups took part in the advance.

The rebels from Benghazi were portrayed as outsiders who were often late in delivering weapons and other supplies to their counterparts.

Rebels in the leadership structure will have to figure out ways to defuse tensions among their ranks while trying to run Libya.

“Talking over Tripoli will be very complex and trying. Just organizing the feeding of the rebels and getting supplies in will be tough, especially since Gaddafi’s people have been busy digging trenches to prepare,” said Bokhari.

“But running the country will be much tougher for the rebels. Finding people who everyone accepts will be the challenge.”

(Additional reporting by William Maclean in London and Christian Lowe in Algiers; editing by Maria Golovnina)

(Reporting By Maria Golovnina)

Tune in as we analyze the entire “Arab Spring” and it’s relation to Islamophobia, in future posts. Insha’Allah.

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3 Responses to Muslim World News | Libya

  1. By no means thought of it that way.

  2. Nada E. says:

    Salaam,
    I’m a Libyan from Benghazi, and I wanted to answer your 2nd and 3rd question:
    2. It’s not an Islamic uprising, it’s an uprising of the oppressed. But the people of Libya are heavily influenced by Islam, and Gadhafi was as anti-Muslim as you can get while still pretending to be Muslim (arresting people who prayed fajr, changing the day of Eid ul-Adha, changing the Quran, etc.)
    3. There’s Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the NTC. The majority of the Libyan people love and trust him. We’re not worried that Libya will fall into anarchy, we have strong leaders and an even stronger desire to build a democratic nation.

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