Why the Army can’t save Libya like in Egypt

A Point of View, Egypt, Libya, Middle East & North Africa, Politics | | February 24, 2011 at 18:17

Gaddafi came to power in a coup against the former King Said Mohummad al-Senussi. Gaddafi understood well how to fragment Libya to maintain power. He has kept the airforce under the control of his own tribe. He has kept the army weak in relation to his own brigade system which answers to his Revolutionary Committees. His sons each seem to have a brigade of their own.

The whole military system is so fragmented with little central command that the defection of one general doesn’t mean much for other units.

Not to mention that pilots have been executed for refusing to fly planes to bomb their fellow citizens. Soldiers are being executed for refusing to fire on civilians. It is reported that families of military personnel are being held as hostages in Tripoli to discourage further defections.

Instead of relying on the army, Gaddafi utilizes foreign mercenaries along with his paramilitary units known as the People’s Militia. The ones protecting the inner circle are called the People of the Tent and are fiercely loyal to him. The stars of the units seem to be the Khamis Brigade under the control of one of Gaddafi’s younger sons, Khamis.

The foreign mercenaries are there for the money. He’s been recruiting them since the 80’s.  Gaddafi is not stupid. He saw what happened in Egypt and Tunisia and started importing planeloads before the Feb17 revolt even broke out. Once in the country, these mercenaries are trapped. Who knows what they would do, but I imagine when they sense the money train has been derailed, they will flee wherever they can.

Forget about the tribe element in Libya. It just isn’t that important anymore. Gaddafi has killed members of every tribe – everyone has suffered. What will bring him down is that he has crossed the line. His atrocities have broken every Libyan heart – at least those that have one.

In the end he will be mostly alone – maybe only with members of his family – maybe not even that. I’m not sure how many of them have the taste for martyrdom that he claims.

Related Wading through maze of Libyan tribes
Soldiers executed for not firing on Derna civilians
Maj Gen Suleiman Mahmoud Al-Obeidi officially defects
Aisha Gaddafi and her gang of brothers
Where is Gaddafi’s Amazon Guard?


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