Libya: Rebel leader’s assassination highlights rifts

Libyan rebel forces continue to struggle with the serious rifts that surfaced after the July 28 assassination of Chief of Staff Abdel Fatah Younis, raising questions about both rebel staying power and  their ability to rule a post-Gadhafi Libya.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., August 6, 2011 - The assassination of rebel leader Chief of Staff Abdel Fatah Younis in late July continues to have ramifications throughout the Libyan rebel organization. 

Observers and family members say a rebel unit surrounded the headquarters of Younis, a former confident of Moammar Gadhafi, on July 28 with orders to bring him into custody.  They took Younis, but he never arrived at any detention facility. The next day, residents found his bullet-ridden and partially burned body outside Benghazi. On July 30, Al Aribya News reported that rebel finance minister Ali Tarhouni said the rebel leader sent to retrieve Younis admitted that his subordinates killed Younis. 

The confession has not calmed dissent, however, and Younis loyalists continue to call for an impartial investigation into his death. Meanwhile, the security situation is increasingly precarious, with rebels fighting both independent street militias and Gadhafi loyalists.

The Libyan rebels are entering a critical period and will have to mend tribal and political fissures in order to succeed.  he assassination of Younis has ramifications beyond his immediate circle, with other groups now questioning their own support and safety with rebel leaders. They may believe their own leaders are not safe from assassination or attacks by competing factions. 

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (Photo: AP)

Failure to unite the various factions could result in open war among the rebels, giving pro-Gadhafi forces a significant advantage. The likelihood of defections by rebels is also increasing as the war enters its fifth month and many rebels had expected a quick end to the  fighting. Fatigue and defeat will wear on the rebels, requiring strong, unified leadership in order to succeed. 

NATO and other Western participants will watch rebel leaders reaction to dissent closely, weighing not only their ability to unite forces but their ability to resolve conflict and implement their democratic rhetoric. Failure to resolve these problems could impact on Western support for the rebels.

If the National Transitional Council, the government-in-waiting for the rebel forces, succeeds in unifying the groups and demonstrates a fair and impartial process, it will emerge stronger and even better positioned for success.  A positive reaction will help assure NATO of its capabilities and bolster rebel morale. 

Failure to resolve the Younis situation in a manner acceptable to all parties will almost certainly fragment the rebels and raise questions about the National Transitional Council’s ability to rule. It also will make it difficult to bring in new recruits and undercut the commitment of current fighters.

Additionally, it will likely boost pro-Gadhafi forces who almost certainly are monitoring the rebel situation closely.

Read more by Lisa at Life with Lisa at The Washington Times Communities.

Lisa has an undergraduate degree in International Relations from George Mason University and a graduate degree in Foreign Affairs from The University of Virginia.  She spent 11 years as an analyst with the federal government.  She is part owner of a research and analysis company, C2 Research, LLC, which specializes in complex research and analysis.  Lisa is also a freelance writer, contributing to Donne Tempo Magazine. 

 


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Lisa M. Ruth

Lisa M. Ruth started her career at the CIA, where she won several distinguished awards for her service and analysis.  After leaving the government, she joined a private intelligence firm in South Florida as President, where she oversaw all research, analysis and reporting.

Lisa joined CDN as a journalist in 2009 and writes extensively on intelligence, world affairs, and breaking news. She also provides investigative reporting and news analysis. Lisa continues to write both for her own columns and as a guest writer on a wide variety of subjects, and is now Executive Editor for CDN and edits the Global, Family and Health sections.  She is also a regular contributor to Newsmax and other publications.

Contact Lisa M. Ruth

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