Monday, 1 August 2011

Libyan rebel commander Abdel Fattah Younes' killed

On Saturday 30th July, rebel minister Ali Tarhouni announced that Libyan rebel commander Gen Abdel Fattah Younes was killed by suspected members of an Islamist group, Obaida Ibn Jarrah.

Younes, who defected in February, had been loyal to Qadhafi since the 1969 coup, which brought the Libyan Leader to power.

Following news of Younes' death and NATO's latest air campaign which bombed Libyan state TV transmitters, Qadhafi delivered another characteristically defiant statement saying: “The will of the Libyan people is stronger than Crusader aggression." He also vowed to "never to abandon" the fight against the rebels and the Western forces.

It is thought that Younes was killed by militants working alongside the rebels, but it remains possible that his death may have been carried out by people working for the Qadhafi regime. The exact culprits responsible for the death of Qadhafi's former interior minister are yet to be determined by the National Transitional Council (NTC), which is investigating the incident.

An unnamed TNC official said Younes' death was "regrettable but containable". He added: "This is not a revolution based on one man…It is based on six million people."

This latest mishap will compound growing doubts about the armed opposition, its ability to govern, fight as a united front and about the power of Islamist factions. Qadhafi's government in Tripoli has repeatedly warned the West that the rebels may have links with various Al-Qa'ida groups, and although there is no concrete evidence of this, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the murder of Younes was "a nice slap [in] the face of the British” after it officially recognised the council in Benghazi as the government of Libya. He added that the TNC was not capable of capturing or governing Libya because it coundn't even “protect its own commander of the army."

Sources: BBC News, The Guardian, Reuters

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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