A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Rebels Recognised as Libyan Government; Leader Killed

The Libyan rebel commander, Abdel Fattah Younes, was killed after being arrested by his own side.

Less than a day ago, Foreign Secretary William Hague expelled all remaining diplomats of the Libyan government in favour of emissaries from the National Transitional Council. Now, an armed gang has entered the building where Abdel Fattah Younes was staying, and shot dead three people: among them, the rebel commander-in-chief himself. The leader of the armed gang has apparently been detained, and called before a judicial committee.

The assassination was initially blamed on pro-Gaddafi forces, but that explanation was quickly replaced, and the attack put down to one of a number of 'armed gangs' in rebel-held areas. However, supporters of the generals have maintained that his assailants were rebel soldiers themselves, motivated possibly by accusations of being a double agent that had dogged him for days Ugly tales of unacceptable links with the regime - in which Younes was formerly defence and interior minister - have begun to surface. This has all the hallmarks of a classic fracturing within the rebel ranks, something which could leave Britain's attempts to reshuffle its foreign policy towards Libya up in the air.

It only goes to show the turbulent nature of revolutionary politics: we are not talking about men sitting safe in their armoured cars, or secure in the marble halls of a presidential palace. We are talking about men on the frontline, where every member of their court could be an assassin, for whom being captured or killed in war is a real possibility. It was premature and foolish of David Cameron's governance to announce that the Libyan rebels were now the official government. You don't need 20/20 hindsight to see this, either: Younes had in fact been arrested by rebel soldiers earlier in the day over allegations of connections with the ruling regime. When William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, announced triumphantly that the Libyan rebel council had 'sole government authority,' the wheels were already set in motion for the dismissal or impeachment of their leader.

This will certainly stall the rebel's advance, which is somewhat hyped in the media, and will possibly lead to a return of the stalemate that prevailed throughout April - something that will surely be a massive blow for the NTC, given that they are running out of money fast, and can no longer afford to actually govern the parts of the country that they rule (virtually all of the eastern half and some mountainous areas south of Tripoli). I highly doubt that the rebel council will collapse instantaneously, but this could well cost them all their recent gains, and could even restore them to pre-Misuratah borders. If that happens, then a fair proportion of senior ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will have rightly been shown up, and Britain's foreign policy regarding Libya would be in a right mess. That situation would have been easily avoidable, if the government had simply listened to the prevailing winds in Benghazi.

I suggest that a new policy be implemented: if a government wants to throw its weight behind a foreign cause that has absolutely nothing to do with us, it should find out what is going on on the ground first and use that as the basis of all decisions, rather than chasing media headlines and 'NATO commitments?' Of course, if such a policy were implemented, I doubt we'd be involved in any foreign wars at all...


This is the second blog update today; I posted one on Islamists preventing foreign aid from reaching the impoverished people of Somalia. Blogging will be light over the next two weeks as I'm off to Scotland, where my Internet access will be sporadic, at best. I shall still be able to do one or two updates in that time (one of which should be a post about how environmentalist policies ruin the lives and livelihoods of rural people in the northwest), however, and will pen a large article on the future of Euroscepticism in the UK, which will hopefully be worth the wait.

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