Libyan ‘Rebels': Who Are They?

Quotes:

The fact that Gaddafi is a reprehensible human being and no friend of the U.S. does not automatically turn his opponents into Thomas Paine. (source)

On a per capita basis, though, twice as many foreign fighters came to Iraq from Libya — and specifically eastern Libya — than from any other country in the Arabic-speaking world. Libyans were apparently more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Middle East. And 84.1% of the 88 Libyan fighters in the Sinjar documents who listed their hometowns came from either Benghazi or Darnah in Libya’s east. (source)

The fate of once-jailed Islamist fighters who are now at large should be among Washington’s top concerns. Islamists freed by Qaddafi and those who escaped from prison during the uprising are now able to operate in an environment of evaporating state control, abundant small arms caches, and under-guarded stocks of chemical warfare agents—posing a significant challenge to the Obama administration. (source)

Veteran jihadists typically settle in Libya’s east, the area Gaddafi has now lost to rebels. Because Gaddafi has kept his army weak, jihadists now sense an opening. “They have unique opportunities that their counterparts in neighboring countries haven’t had,” Forest says. “Libya has a mix of political oppression, corruption, illegitimate leadership and economic deprivation amid huge oil wealth. And now the jihadists have weapons.” (source)

That Qaddafi is an anti-American and tyrannical thug, there is no doubt. But unless this administration has a clear and focused policy on what it wants to accomplish in Libya—one that does not include cozying up to Islamists or that is built solely atop temporary economic considerations—it may be best to let the Middle East’s latest survival-of-the-fittest installment play out, and go from there. (source)

“The Islamist movements…are the only organized group that could be effective in determining the future of Libya, during this conflict and after this conflict reaches an end.” (source)

A group of al Qaeda fighters in the eastern Libyan port city of Derna has declared the Islamic Emirate of Barqa, recalling the ancient name for the area. Derna was famous as one of the havens of the Barbary Pirates, and was captured by U.S. Marines in 1805 – the first victory of American arms abroad. While this new al Qaeda conquest may prove to be short-lived, the incident underscores what’s at stake in the chaos erupting in the region. The people in the streets protesting against tyrants are not necessarily fighting for freedom. (source)

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