In depth report: What has happened to the Libyan military so far?

Translated by | Original article: Al Jazeera Arabic

The joining of many of the military, air force and naval forces to the revolutionaries has strengthened their position in demand for the resignation of Colonel Gaddafi. It also reduced the regime’s ability to resolve the situation militarily.
Thus, the military power in Libya has become fragmented in terms of distributed control between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi. According to available information, the total number of the Libyan military ranges between 90 to 130 thousand personnel.

Although Libya is one of the countries that spends the most on armaments, most military units appear to be weak and limited in experience and training with exception to the units entrusted with the protection of Gaddafi.

Military officers declaring they have joined the revolution:

1. Benghazi

The city of Benghazi, which was taken over by the revolutionaries since the beginning, is considered Libya’s second city after the capital Tripoli militarily and a base for a variety of military units which have declared all of their accession to the revolution.
Benina air base located in the suburb of Benghazi announced its support to the revolution a few days after it began with an official statement from its military officers and soldiers.

Another military faction was the Forsan barracks, an armoured battalion in Benghazi which is one of the most important Libyan armoured vehicles base. it too announced its support of the revolution.

In terms of Naval power, the navy personnel in Benghazi announced their loyalty to the revolution, and disobeyed Gaddafi orders after warships were ordered to bomb the Benghazi population and defected to Cyprus.

2. Tobruk

In Tobruk, which is a coastal city close to the Egyptian-Libyan border and approximately 1500km away from Tripoli, the Jamaal Abdul Nassir Air Base joined the revolution. It is the largest air base in the region with an extremely important strategic position.

The security battalion in Tobruk also joined the revolution and was able to fend off some attacks from Gaddafi’s supporters. It also managed to down a plane which tried to land at Tobruk airport which was loaded with militia mercenaries coming from Zaire.

3. Al Jabal Al Akhdar (The Green Mountain)

Green Mountain is a vast region extending in the north-east of Libya, and includes cities such as Al Bayda, Darnah and Al Gubba, with Al Bayda considered its capital and administrative centre. The region’s military leaders and units have also joined the revolution and renounced Gaddafi.

Among the most prominent military units in the region, the Libyan Army Battalions in the Green Mountain announced through their military spokesman that they too have joined the revolution.

4. Ajdabiya

In Ajdabiya situated in the north-east of Libya, approximately 160km south of Benghazi, military and police units announced their joining of the revolution.

5. Misurata

East of Tripoli, the city of Misurata has witnessed intense fighting after the army announced it too had joined the people’s revolution. They have been able to to repel many attacks from pro-Gaddafi militias, mercenaries and loyal battalions. They have also shot down a fighter plane which attempted to take out some sensitive areas in the city that were under the control of the revolution.

6. Az Zawiya

The closest the revolutionaries have gotten to Tripoli so far. Situated only 55km, this city has caused the greatest amount of unrest to Gaddafi as of yet now that it is in the hands of the revolutionaries. As of the 24th February, fighting apparently continues in the city. In a phone call specifically aimed at its residents, Gaddafi said the protesters were young people that had been duped into “destruction and sabotage” with drugs and alcohol.

7. Tripoli

In Tripoli, which is still holed up in Gaddafi’s heavily fortified military base (Baab Al Aziziyah) and which the loyal battalions to Gaddafi are still in control, there have emerged a number of moves from military units which come in support of the revolution.

There have been reports of the accession of Mitiga Air Base in Tripoli to the revolutionaries, making it another military air base in their hands. A number of military personnel have also joined the revolution in the district of Tajoura in Tripoli.

Accession has not been limited to the field of military and security personnel, but rather it transcended to important figures which have a weight in this area:

1. Abdul Fattah Younis Al-Obaidi
AJEWhen the Interior Minister and Major General Abdel Fattah Younis al-Obaidi joined the revolution, this dealt a severe a blow to Colonel Gaddafi in whose sight Obaidi was one of the most prominent aides. Gaddafi mentioned Obaidi several times in his second address to the nation, bestowed upon him praise and said he fought with him against the Americans. Gaddafi accused the people of Benghazi of killing him and hiding his body. Shortly thereafter, Obaidi came to announce his resignation from the Gaddafi regime and that he had joined the revolution.

2. Abdel Salam Mahmoud Hassi

The President of the Libyan Special Forces Brigadier General Abdel Salam Mahmoud Hassi also joined the revolutionaries and called to his fellow officers and soldiers to take a similar decision.

3. Suleiman Mahmoud

The Eastern Libyan Military Commander Suleiman Mahmoud also announced his resignation. He justified his move based on the massacres that were being committed by the Gaddafi regime against unarmed citizens.

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2 Responses to In depth report: What has happened to the Libyan military so far?

  1. Pingback: inexplicable rifts in libyan rebel forces « hbd* chick

  2. Alex Vargas says:

    is it true that the Libyan leader proposed the nationalisation of U.S. oil companies, as well as those of UK, Germany, Spain, Norway, Canada and Italy in 2009 ??

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