While Patriots Die, Libyan Generals Compete for Top Spot

            Over the last few weeks, NATO has been launching countless airstrikes against Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. Despite this relentless pounding of Colonel Gadhafi’s assets, his forces have been able to advance into Misrata and have at times pushed the Libyan Rebel forces back. Libyan Rebel forces are being heavily criticized for their lack of success against Gadhafi’s forces despite NATO air support. While the average Libyan Rebel soldier, normally no more than a patriotic but hastily trained civilian, is certainly very brave, their leadership is failing them. The Libyan Rebel army does not have any central direction because two generals are fighting for the top spot. Both General Abdul Fattah Younes and General Khalifa Hifter are competing for control of Free Libya’s ragtag armed forces.

            Currently, General Younes seems to be the appointed leader by the Transitional National Council. However, many criticize General Younes for having been Colonel Ghadaffi’s friend and interior minister until his defection to the Rebels on Feb 22nd. On the other hand, General Hifter is worshipped as a hero from the Chad-Libyan war.  He lived in the United States for over 20 years after losing favour with Ghadafi and only returned to Libya in early March. Adding to the confusion the official spokesman for the Libyan Rebel Army recently proposed a compromise wherein, “They are both at the same level, and both answer to Omar Hariri, the minister of defense.” This compromise has not been accepted by either party.

            Until the Libyan Rebel forces have their chain of command clearly established, confusion, supply shortages and defeats will continue to fetter Free Libya’s hopes of beating Gadhafi.  The British, French, Qatari, and American governments have all pledge aide to the fledging Libyan Rebel Army. But when British military advisors arrive in Libya on Friday they will have to ask themselves “Which Libyan Rebel Army do I choose?”.

Stuart A. Allan