Libya flying apart at the seams

Rick Moran
Libya is disappearing. There is a movement to make the eastern part of the country "autonomous" which many observers believe means the easterners want to set up a separate state.

And the guy who is calling himself Libya's "leader" is threatening to use force to keep the country together.

Guardian:

The Libyan leader, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has vowed to use force to stop the country breaking up after leaders in an eastern region declared autonomy.

"We are not prepared to divide Libya," he said, blaming "infiltrators" and "pro-Gaddafi elements" for backing the autonomy plan. "We are ready to deter them, even with force."

The comments, unusually strident for the Libyan leader, came a day after 3,000 activists, politicians and tribal leaders met in the eastern city of Benghazi to inaugurate a self-declared Cyrenaica Provisional Council.

Their declaration of autonomy, and the appointment of Ahmed al-Senussi, a relative of Libya's former king, Idris, as head of the new council, has rapidly spiralled into a crisis. Jalil warned: "I call on my brothers the Libyan people to be aware and alert to the conspiracies that are being plotted against them and to be aware that some people are dragging the country back down into a deep pit."

Pro-autonomy leaders say their ambition is limited to self-government in a region of Libya long neglected by the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The Cyrenaica council insisted that control of the national army, foreign policy and the country's oil reserves would remain with the nation's government.

But the declaration is also a reminder of the strength of regional and tribal affiliations in a country whose provinces formed the current state of Libya only in 1934, having been occupied by Italy and before that by the Ottoman empire.

The Libyan government is something of a joke in that it barely controls the capitol city Tripoli. Armed gangs still rule the streets and the militias can't help but take potshots at one another.

It is doubtful Jalil could make good on his threat. And with the west largely abandoning the Libyans, anything is possible - including the country breaking up into several entities.

Libya is disappearing. There is a movement to make the eastern part of the country "autonomous" which many observers believe means the easterners want to set up a separate state.

And the guy who is calling himself Libya's "leader" is threatening to use force to keep the country together.

Guardian:

The Libyan leader, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has vowed to use force to stop the country breaking up after leaders in an eastern region declared autonomy.

"We are not prepared to divide Libya," he said, blaming "infiltrators" and "pro-Gaddafi elements" for backing the autonomy plan. "We are ready to deter them, even with force."

The comments, unusually strident for the Libyan leader, came a day after 3,000 activists, politicians and tribal leaders met in the eastern city of Benghazi to inaugurate a self-declared Cyrenaica Provisional Council.

Their declaration of autonomy, and the appointment of Ahmed al-Senussi, a relative of Libya's former king, Idris, as head of the new council, has rapidly spiralled into a crisis. Jalil warned: "I call on my brothers the Libyan people to be aware and alert to the conspiracies that are being plotted against them and to be aware that some people are dragging the country back down into a deep pit."

Pro-autonomy leaders say their ambition is limited to self-government in a region of Libya long neglected by the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The Cyrenaica council insisted that control of the national army, foreign policy and the country's oil reserves would remain with the nation's government.

But the declaration is also a reminder of the strength of regional and tribal affiliations in a country whose provinces formed the current state of Libya only in 1934, having been occupied by Italy and before that by the Ottoman empire.

The Libyan government is something of a joke in that it barely controls the capitol city Tripoli. Armed gangs still rule the streets and the militias can't help but take potshots at one another.

It is doubtful Jalil could make good on his threat. And with the west largely abandoning the Libyans, anything is possible - including the country breaking up into several entities.