Libyan rebels take on new foe: Politics

People celebrate at Martyrs' Square, formerly known as Green Square, for the Eid Al-Fitr prayer Aug. 31, 2011, in Tripoli, Libya. Getty Images

People celebrate at Martyrs' Square, formerly known as Green Square, for the Eid Al-Fitr prayer Aug. 31, 2011, in Tripoli, Libya. Libyans celebrated the first Eid Al-Fitr in 42 years under a new regime.
People celebrate at Martyrs' Square, formerly known as Green Square, for the Eid Al-Fitr prayer Aug. 31, 2011, in Tripoli, Libya.
Getty Images

In Libya's rebellion, wresting the capital city of Tripoli from troops loyal to dictator Muammar Qaddafi might be the easy part.

The New York Times reported in a page-one article Wednesday that winning the capital city presents a key test of whether the rebels can overcome regional divisions as they try to create a post-Qaddafi Libya after his nearly 42-year reign.

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One example of the divisions within the rebellion the Times highlights is the appointment of Abdel Hakim al-Hasadi, also known as AbdelHakim Belhaj, as the Tripoli Military Council's commander.

Liberals on the rebels' interim governing body, the Transitional National Council, told the Times that they feared Hasadi's appointment signaled the makings of an Islamist coup because, they said, he helped lead a rebellion in the '90s with the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group. They also raised concerns about his links to Qatar, which supported Hasadi's military brigade in the current rebellion.

"This guy is just a creation of the Qataris and their money, and they are sponsoring the element of Muslim extremism here," an unnamed council member from western Libya told the Times. "The revolutionary fighters are extremely unhappy and surprised. He is the commander of nothing!"

The Times couldn't reach Hasadi for comment. He was in Doha, Qatar, with Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who chairs the Transitional National Council.

Read the full story here

  • Alex Sundby

    Alex Sundby is an associate news editor for CBSNews.com

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