The two faces of Libya’s rebels

If you let strangers know that you research Libya for a living, there seems to be only one question on their minds: "Who are the Libyan rebels?" I’ve been asked it at cocktail parties, on ski lifts, at academic seminars, and even by Western journalists in Benghazi who have developed the flattering habit of Skype-ing ...

By , the founder of the consultancy Libya-Analysis and the author of Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

If you let strangers know that you research Libya for a living, there seems to be only one question on their minds: "Who are the Libyan rebels?" I've been asked it at cocktail parties, on ski lifts, at academic seminars, and even by Western journalists in Benghazi who have developed the flattering habit of Skype-ing me at odd hours. Americans seem captivated by this question, perhaps because they have heard senior U.S. officials from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to various Republican congressmen proclaim that they do not yet know enough about who the rebels are. I do not take such statements at face value. U.S. statesmen know quite well who the rebels are -- but pretend otherwise to obscure the fact that the United States has yet to formulate a comprehensive policy toward them.

The rebels consist of two distinct groups: the fighters and the political leadership.

Read more.

If you let strangers know that you research Libya for a living, there seems to be only one question on their minds: "Who are the Libyan rebels?" I’ve been asked it at cocktail parties, on ski lifts, at academic seminars, and even by Western journalists in Benghazi who have developed the flattering habit of Skype-ing me at odd hours. Americans seem captivated by this question, perhaps because they have heard senior U.S. officials from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to various Republican congressmen proclaim that they do not yet know enough about who the rebels are. I do not take such statements at face value. U.S. statesmen know quite well who the rebels are — but pretend otherwise to obscure the fact that the United States has yet to formulate a comprehensive policy toward them.

The rebels consist of two distinct groups: the fighters and the political leadership.

Read more.

Jason Pack is the author of Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder, a senior analyst at the NATO Foundation, and is the 2018 World Champion of Doubles Backgammon. Twitter: @JasonPackLibya

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