The United States recognized the Transitional National Council (TNC) in Libya as a symbolic shift away from the Qaddafi leadership as well as a a means to provide the rebel movement with the frozen Libyan assets. Well if the move looked stupid then (and it did), it has only gotten worse since then. Not only is unfreezing assets much more difficult than originally though, but the already dubious leadership of the TNC has nearly collapsed. So try to follow here:
- Several weeks ago it becomes clear that the TNC does not really have control over many of the militias that are fighting Qaddafi across the country, leading to numerous incidents of revenge violence against Qaddafi-supporting civilians.
- Last week the leading rebel commander Abdel Fatah Younis was assassinated by pro-Qaddafi forces
- Last week the leading rebel commander Abdel Fatah Younis was assassinated by Islamist forces
- Last week the leading rebel commander Abdel Fatah Younis was assassinated by rebel forces for being a double agent
- Last week the leading rebel commander Abdel Fatah Younis was assassinated by the extremist, rebel-allied Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade for Younis’ participation in the government crackdown against Islamists
- Last week rebel forces burned the body of Younis and dumped the body in the streets
- Recently, a coalition of rebel jurists has sharply criticized the NTC and called for resignations of the defense and foreign ministers and warned agains the growing control of the Islamist movement in the rebel council
- Seif al-Islam al-Qaddafi has announced the the government has forged an alliance with the Islamists in the rebel movement. Ali Sallabi, a leading Islamists has denied the alliance, but admitted to meeting with Qaddafi
So,uhh, what the hell? So technically we know who the rebels are. From Larison:
The question of identity is one that skeptics of the Libyan intervention have used to good effect (“how can we support a group we don’t know very well?”), but it is strange that the question keeps coming up. It’s not as if there is that much uncertainty about “who” they are any longer. They are mostly Libyans drawn from the ranks of traditional opponents of Gaddafi’s regime: Amazigh in the Nafusa mountains, merchants in Misrata, and tribes from Cyrenaica. They represent those parts of Libya that have been neglected or severely mistreated by the regime. Their numbers have been supplemented by defectors and opportunists, including Younes, and there are also former and current Libyan Islamic Fighting Group members and other Islamists fighting alongside them.
So we know the rebels, but we just don’t know who they represent, who they like, don’t like or might like, who they are allied with or what their intentions are. Presumably, the post-revolution clean-up/reconstruction of Libya will be one of the most tenuous and difficult in the region. After Qaddafi falls, the rebel movement will need to essentially construct a new national governing structure from nothing. While the TNC has made some inroads into regional governance in the east and has created international legitimacy in the US and Europe, it still lacks control in the west and, particularly important, in Tripoli. The post-Qaddafi task is going to be hard enough without the internal divisions that are now plaguing the rebels.
Photo from Namibian