Sunday, July 31, 2011

UK's Libya policy in jeopardy amid feud

People carry the coffin of Libya's opposition military commander General Abdel Fatah Younis

Source: Press TV

The UK government's support for Libyan fighters battling forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi has hit a snag after a bitter internal feud emerged among opposition front.

The crisis centers around the shocking assassination of the revolutionaries' most senior army commander, who was killed by militia within the anti-Gaddafi camp.

The National Transitional Council's (NTC) oil minister said that General Abdel Fatah Younis had been shot dead by the militia within the opposition.

The revelation provokes fears of future unrest and instability among those fighting the old regime.

It also will raise doubts over the wisdom of the British government's decision last week to recognize the revolutionaries' transitional government officially, declaring that it had proved its democratic credentials.

Only a day later, the bullet-riddled and burnt bodies of Younis and two of his aides were found dumped on the outskirts of Benghazi, the opposition's stronghold.

The news of the deaths led to outbreaks of violence in Benghazi on Friday, with troops loyal to the General and members of the large and powerful tribe to which he belonged, the Obeidis, vowing retribution.

The killings came at a difficult time for Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government, which also ordered diplomats of the Tripoli regime to leave the UK.

Labor party's former defense secretary Bob Ainsworth said that the murder and the identities of the killers were evidence that the government had not thought through its policy in Libya.

"One of the biggest risk factors in this was our lack of understanding of the people we were working with and I think that lack of understanding still stands," he said.

Bob Stewart, the Tory MP and former British United Nations Commander in Bosnia, said he feared the Libyan conflict would end with "a government we don't like and us getting the blame".

Labor MP John McDonnell called for a peace conference between Gaddafi and the opposition to be enforced.

"The government is treading on a path that is extremely uncertain," he said.

"It is dealing with people of whom it has very little knowledge and this is just an example of the potential there is for disunity", added McDonnell.

In Tripoli, Gaddafi's spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, mocked British support for the revolutionaries, declaring: "It is a nice slap [in] the face [for] the British that the [rebel] council that they recognized could not protect its own commander of the army."

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