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WASHINGTON – The head of the National Transitional Council, or NTC, is threatening the use of force against tribal and militia leaders from eastern Libya, or Benghazi, after they suggested dividing the country along regional lines, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil firmly rejected any notion of autonomy.
“We are not prepared to divide Libya,” Jalil said. “They (militias and tribes) know that there are infiltrators and remnants of the Gadhafi regime trying to exploit them now and we are ready to deter them, even with force.”
He further accused “some sister Arab nations” of supporting and financing what he referred to as “this sedition” from the east. He insisted that the NTC was the only legitimate government, with Tripoli being Libya’s “eternal capital.”
To Jalil, a declaration of autonomy for Benghazi would be an entrée to splitting off a region from the rest of the country where much of Libya’s oil production takes place.
It also could be an opening for other regions to similarly seek autonomy.
There are more than 100 separate tribes and city-based militias which, in fact, control much of the country, according to sources.
The NTC was installed by the United States and countries which participated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization effort to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. However, it has been unable to exert control even over Tripoli where the airport and government buildings remain under militia control.
While this fracturing of the country could prompt a civil war, other observers see it as a potential opportunity to Western powers that see the concentration of wealth primarily in the east.
There is concern that the country could revert to the days of King Idris who governed Libya but was overthrown by Gadhafi. During Idris’ rein, however, he favored Western powers, especially the U.S. and British, and granted military bases to both countries, such as the giant Wheelus Air Base in Western Libya for the U.S. Air Force.
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