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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who are the Libyan rebels?

Michael Totten (pictured) finds someone he trusts on the ground in Benghazi and asks about the Libyan rebels.
Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof is on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, working with the Shabakat Group which she says “has an extensive network in country amongst the transitional government, tribal chiefs, rebel forces, former Qaddafi officials, and the civilian populace.”

I don’t know her personally, but we have many friends and colleagues in common, people I trust more than anyone else in this business. So when I found out she was over there and had embedded, so to speak, with the anti-Qaddafi rebels, I had to ask her some questions that hardly anyone seems to have an answer to yet.

MJT: Who, exactly, are these rebels you’ve met? Are they democrats? Tribal leaders? Islamists? All of the above? What?

Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof: The rebels I’ve met so far are mainly young, educated, middle class, urban people with a powerful wish for democracy.

If you look at the demographics in Libya, 82.6 percent of the people are literate, an estimated 88 percent live in cities—mostly in Benghazi and Tripoli—and about half the population is under the age of 15. So the young urban rebels in Benghazi may be fairly representative.

The tribes exist here, but they’re more of a cultural phenomenon than a political one. I don’t think anyone here imagines, or wants, the tribes stepping up to power, though this may differ somewhat between regions.

About the Islamists—there are radical elements amongst the rebels, to be sure, but they are a minority, and they’re all grateful to the West at the moment. You would be amazed to see the number of people around here waving Western flags and thanking the West, especially France.

In Benghazi, every person I’ve met so far has insisted on showing me the bridge in town where the Qaddafi troops arrived and started firing—and that bridge is actually inside Benghazi—saying he would cleanse the city “street by street, and house by house.” They all say, “Allah saved us, he sent us French and British and American planes like angels, Alhamdulillah.”

Read the whole thing.

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At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is not our favorite people, but his weaknesses, his idealized post-Marxist new-leftie idealization of Islam, his anti-colonialist and ignorant prejudice against Zionism and Jewish history, etc. are to some degree counterbalanced by the institutional necessities of his office in the face of a cascading unanticipated series of mutually interrelated crises.

Look, the guy has been criticized for dithering when freedom calls and calculating to supplant pro-American autocrats with Muslim Brotherhood puppets. The two scripts are not mutually supportable, and the actual flesh and blood free willed participants in the events we dimly understand in the levant could possibly serve as extras in one movie or the other, but not both.

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

for an unforgiving and mordant explanation as to how Obama finds himself dropping bombs on a revolutionary Gaddafi rather than a past American client:


At 5:03 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof: talk about "fools step in where angels fear to tread"! She is another useful idiot. Tribes run Libya, always have done.
In Egypt too the young and intellectuals started the protests, but the Mozlem Brotherhood is now in joint control with the army.

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Well juniper....if you knew about Libya...I wouldnt have to step in to correct you. The Tribes do not run Libya. Gahdaffi saw to that through his 42 years of oppressive rule...The power of Libya has been centralized among his family and inner circle. In addition, even though there are 142 tribe only several really had any main power. And your comment about fools threading in where angels dont.... Thank God.... for thouse who risk their lives to ensure for the safety and protection of human rights.


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