Video: Who’s in charge of the Libyan rebel army?

posted at 12:15 pm on April 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

It’s no small question, not for the generals involved, not for the Libyan rebels, and certainly not for the Obama administration. The top two commanders in the field are Abdul Fatah Younis, Moammar Gaddafi’s former Interior Minister whose defection was an early key for the rebellion’s credibility, and Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, who defected from Libya more than two decades ago after the humiliating defeat of the war with Chad. Both claim to be leading the armed forces, and the rift and dissension in the chain of command could disrupt what little military resistance the rebels can muster against Gaddafi:

It’s no small matter to the US, either. Haftar appears to be the reason that the US feels sanguine enough to provide military and diplomatic support to the rebellion. After his defection, Haftar reportedly worked with the CIA to create and maintain a militia in Libya, according to a French book titled Manipulations Africaines.  He only returned to Libya in the last few weeks, reportedly to “knock the rebel force into some kind of shape.”

That sanguine feeling appears to be dissipating, however.  Foreign Policy reports that the White House has blocked the transfer of $25 million in “non-lethal” aid to the rebels, but isn’t sure why:

On April 15, the State Department notified Congress that it wanted to send $25 million of non-lethal military aid to the Libyan rebels, but as of today that money is being held up by the White House and no funds or goods have been disbursed. …

“One of the reasons why I announced $25 million in nonlethal aid yesterday, why many of our partners both in NATO and in the broader Contact Group are providing assistance to the opposition – is to enable them to defend themselves and to repulse the attacks by Qaddafi forces,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on this morning.

“There’s an urgent situation here and they need our help,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Wednesday.

Suddenly, though, something more urgent has come up which has delayed that assistance.  FP tried to find out why, but the White House won’t comment.

What could it be?  The CIA was supposed to report back on the nature of the rebels, a task Obama demanded belatedly after going to war on their behalf.  Perhaps the CIA has come back with some bad news about the nature of the rebellion — or perhaps the White House may wonder whether the CIA can give them a straight picture with their favorite engaging in a power struggle for control of the forces.   This could also be the administration’s way of attempting to put Haftar into overall command of the forces and push out Younis.

It’s very curious, and doesn’t exactly give confidence in the mission.  Why are we sending drones into Libya on behalf of a rebellion to which we’re afraid to give non-lethal aid?

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Why are we sending drones into Libya on behalf of a rebellion to which we’re afraid to give non-lethal aid?

That question answers itself.

WitchDoctor on April 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Who’s in charge of the Libyan rebel army?

John McCain, right?

cartooner on April 22, 2011 at 12:20 PM

I guess the guy with the blue hair in the picture is in charge?

letget on April 22, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Dunno, but telling the truth is the last option. No…it is not an option.

withmanitisimpossible on April 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Mounting evidence of rebel atrocities in Libya:

Great heroes for you, McCain.

rbj on April 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM

When the “heroes” are beheading people in the town square, it makes it somewhat difficult to justify sending them money.

ButterflyDragon on April 22, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Who’s in charge of the Libyan rebel army?

Rahm Emanuel.

percysunshine on April 22, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Blue hair?….BLUE HAIR????

percysunshine on April 22, 2011 at 12:27 PM

ButterflyDragon on April 22, 2011 at 12:25 PM

They already use money to murder the most defenseless humans right from the womb….this won’t matter to them.

withmanitisimpossible on April 22, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Barry must delay, one of these two could turn out to be friends of the west, and we can’t have that…

phreshone on April 22, 2011 at 12:32 PM

By the way, the answer to the title question is “allah”.

Allah is in charge of all of it, hence the brutality and death. That is all allah wants, blood and death.

withmanitisimpossible on April 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Who’s in charge of the Libyan rebel army?

On a long enough timeline – I’d say Muhammed since it’s HIS Koranic precepts that all these bickering factions are acting according to and until we understand that the Middle East will FOREVER remain an undecipherable mystery to us in the West who have abandoned our OWN historical faith.

Yes, Ed and Sahriahpundit, people actually do believe all this religion stuff. Some even live it – for better or worse, most often for worse.

abobo on April 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM

CNN photoshop.

Yeah, blue hair.

percysunshine on April 22, 2011 at 12:36 PM

What is nonlethal military aid?

Will Qaddafi plead with us, “Don’t tase me, bro?”

Steve Z on April 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM

‘Cause they’re mostly Islamists. Normally, this would make Obama want to give them more aid. But elections are just around the corner, and he can’t let the American people see him actually supporting terrorists. With tax-payer money no less!

Aquateen Hungerforce on April 22, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Our “rebel friends” in Libya are conducting horrible atrocities — public beheadings, summary executions and torture. Why are we helping them again?? These “rebels” are barbarous, bloodthirsty Jihadis who deserve to meet Mr. Tomahawk as much as Khadaffi does. If you watch any of the videos — and they are sickening — witness mobs chanting Allah Akbar, women doing that trilling thing, as they saw the head off of a prisoner. It is not in our interests and we have no business helping these people:

EasyEight on April 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Obama will have this as an albatross around his neck come November 2012. He tried to “cash in” on the “Arab Spring” uprisings in so many mid-East nations to establish his “cred”. But he botched it, big time. And McCain’s “They are my heros.” pitch just gives Obama cover for this witless disaster. Why did I vote for McCain in 2008? . . . Oh yeah, it was the lesser-of-two-evils and that Palin gal that had more backbone than either of them.

Bob in VA on April 22, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Yes, what is non-lethal aid? What’s on the delivery ticket? How do we transfer $25M to Libya .. whose bank account does it go in? Who receives the material goods and how are they distributed? From what I can tell, there is no organization on the ground. Are we sending them cash so they can purchase weapons and we can claim they weren’t supplied by us?

This is a big mess. And the handwriting is on the wall. Gadaffi will be allowed to breath air somewhere, and eventually, his off-spring will facilitate an attack against us. We should have killed him before it got to this point. He feared America under Bush, under Obama, he has no fear.

Texas Gal on April 22, 2011 at 1:28 PM

There’s a LOT we don’t know about the “rebels.” Just read the news coming out of the conflict and spot the “wtf” moments. A news story reports NATO jets accidentally bombing a rebel tank column. Huh!?! Weren’t we told that the rebels needed our help because they had no heavy weapons?? So where did they get all those tanks? Another story reports rebel helicopters attacking Khadaffi forces. WFT? If all the poor rebels had were AKs, and that’s why it was so urgent that we intervene, where did these gunships come from all of a sudden? How did they go from having rocks and small arms to tanks and gunships in a month??

EasyEight on April 22, 2011 at 1:52 PM

I wonder if the universe would dissolve if a politician, or country, just admitted a mistake and backed away from it.

jodetoad on April 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Hmm… they can’t figure out who is in charge so they don’t know where to mail the check. Yeah, probably a good reason to hold up the money for a bit.

Lawrence on April 22, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Pakistan confirmed: Kaddafi (personally) masterminded Libya’s failed 9-11 style attack on Israel.

Libya’s Justice Minister confirmed: Kaddafi (personally) masterminded Lockerbie.

There is no statute of limitations on mass murder of innocent Americans.

America now has a duty to bring Kaddafi to justice; or justice to Kaddafi.

I don’t much care whether Kaddafi meets an international tribunal or Mussolini’s fate on a meat-hook. But Kaddafi (personally) must answer for his actions.

Mark my words: Anything short of a Kaddafi dirt-nap will be a grave mistake.

Terp Mole on April 22, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Cluebat to Quislings: Kaddafi has publicly VOWED to resume targeting civilian airliners.

The clock is now ticking again. Kaddafi’s typical retaliation turnaround time is measured in mere weeks or months.

Reagan (March ’86): Gulf of Sidra skirmish
Kaddafi (April ’86): Berlin disco bombing
Kaddafi (April ’86): TWA840

Reagan (April ’86): Operation El Dorado Canyon
Kaddafi (Sept ’86): PA73
Kaddafi (Dec ’88): PA103
Kaddafi (Sept ’89): UTA772


Terp Mole on April 22, 2011 at 5:18 PM

Who’s in charge of the Libyan rebel army?

Uh that would be Al-Qaeda

Who’s in charge of American Foreign Policy?

With Hillary(D) setting the priorities as “delivering Halal meals” I would say… nobody.

If you think there is a “plan” please tell me what the goal of American/NATO no fly zones is supposed to be?

DANEgerus on April 23, 2011 at 5:16 AM