Saturday 10 December 2016

Accusations of treachery show up growing rifts among Libyan rebels

Kim Sengupta in Tripoli

Published 13/09/2011 | 05:00

Anti-Gaddafi fighters cheer and shoot into air as they drive a multiple rocket launcher they captured from pro-Gaddafi forces. Photo: reuters
Anti-Gaddafi fighters cheer and shoot into air as they drive a multiple rocket launcher they captured from pro-Gaddafi forces. Photo: reuters

The rebels had fought their way in through the narrow streets and alleyways when they ran into an ambush. A desperate appeal for help to their comrades, exiles from Bani Walid whose advice they had followed on the assault, was answered by instructions to fall back to a rendezvous point outside the town.

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But when the revolutionaries reached their destination, there was no sign of the Bani Walid contingent. Then -- as urgent attempts were being made to establish communications -- came salvos of mortar rounds and rockets.

By the time the opposition fighters had brought their casualties, five dead and 18 injured, to the nearest medical facility, they were enraged, accusing the Bani Walid men of betrayal. And some of the "outside" groups returned to Tripoli in disgust.

"We were given directions by the Bani Walid men we were leading and they were supposed to be behind us," said Ahmed Ishmail Jawad, a 24-year-old student and volunteer. "We faced a lot of fighting, much more than we expected. When we called for reinforcements, there was no one."

The friction among those attempting to take Bani Walid, one of three remaining areas, along with Sirte and Sabbah, in regime hands, was the most incendiary sign of the increasing schism in the ranks of the opposition which has begun to appear within weeks of Gaddafi's overthrow.

These tensions were illustrated by a press conference the caretaker Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril, was due to hold on Sunday night at the Radisson hotel in Tripoli. This was twice postponed and then had to be moved to another venue.

The antipathy towards the unelected members of the TNC forming the new administration is increasingly widespread and vocal. Most of them are former members of the Gaddafi regime, viewed as opportunistic converts from the old order.

Abdulbasit Abu Muzairik, a senior member of the council of Misurata, expressed what he said was widespread frustration. "We have not seen Jibril in Libya, he has spent all the time we were suffering outside the country. Suddenly he is here and we have to accept he is the prime minister."

Irish Independent

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