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Argument: Unclear what the Libyan rebels are fighting for

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Supporting quotations

"Libya: Don't arm the rebels." The New Yorker. March 31st, 2011: "It is not clear what the rebels are fighting for, other than survival and the possible opportunity to take power in a country loaded with oil."

House Intel Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich: "It’s safe to say what the rebels stand against, but we are a long way from an understanding of what they stand for. We don’t have to look very far back in history to find examples of the unintended consequences of passing out advanced weapons to a group of fighters we didn’t know as well as we should have."[1]

Chris Strohm. "5 Reasons to Arm Libya's Rebels ... and Another 5 Reasons Not to." National Journal. March 22, 2011: "1. We Don’t Know Who They Are. Perhaps the strongest argument against arming the rebels is that it is not clear who they are or what their agenda is. Opposition leaders have formed an interim governing council in Benghazi. But it is not clear how much control the council has over different rebel factions or if the council will emerge as a legitimate governing force, said Richard Downie, deputy director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Downie noted that the U.S. government armed the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, which backfired with the rise of al-Qaida."

Oliver Druggan. "Why we shouldn’t arm Libya’s rebels." Independent. April 1, 2011: "The de facto government, now recognised by most of the EU and NATO as the legitimate opposition to Gadaffi, finds its strong hold in Benghazi between the oil harbours of Azzuwaytinah and Al Hariqa. The council is made up of largely dissident figures, many of whom have longs histories of criticism and pasts riddled with government ‘attention’. But when making the choice to give arms to an unelected and hitherto unknown band of merry men slightly more background research is required to sure up the move. The research has been done, and the recipients found wanting.

Far from the voice of liberal democracy and civil compassion the LNC’s Chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has a history of ruthless legal absolutism and political vapidity. As a graduate of Shari’a and Law from the Libyan University, and links with Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, fears of Islamist tendencies are justifiably rife. There is a form of soft racism that often clouds the discussion of Islamic forces in the region but the facts are clear; almost every group that has either been elected or seized power on an Islamist or Shari’a platform in the Middle East has not taken long to instil the key virtues of tyranny, the oppression of women and the brutalisation of ethnic minorities. It was facilitated by Soviet Russia in Afghanistan during the Proxy Wars of the 1970s and 80s, historically reinforced by the west in the name of ‘stability’ and could well find purchase here.

Then there are Jalil’s dubious decisions as a Judge and President of the Libyan court of appeal. For instance, he twice upheld the decision to execute 5 Bulgarian nurses and 1 Palestinian doctor for ‘infecting hundreds of children with a HIV’, a crime that was never proven and heard in a case overseen by Gadaffi himself. The intervention by the EU to save their lives was vehemently opposed by the now leader of the free Libya, a move that earned him Gadaffi’s praise as ‘a faithful among the faithful’ and a position in his cabinet for 3 years.

But he resigned, he has broken his links with Gadaffi, he has, to quote the most sickening of condescending platitudes, ‘seen the light’. That may be so, but let’s not kid ourselves; loyalties aren’t quickly forgotten and moral doggedness not quickly forgiven, especially in Libya. Even the bluntest of imaginations can look on the fractured Libyan society and foresee a time that the LNC also has to defend itself from the disenfranchised masses.

Add to the considerations as well the history Idris Laga, the LNC’s military coordinator, who oversaw the skewed investigation into, and rape and torture of, the above mentioned nurses, and has been described by middle eastern academic Vladimir Tchoukov as ‘a greedy and unscrupulous man, animated by a deep hatred of the West’."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana, asked Thursday: "How many of these citizen-soldiers fighting against Gadhafi -- how many are people who are tied into terrorist organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan and do we know who they are? Do we have any idea?"

He added that it's "a heck of a situation when we go into a conflict and we don't know who we are supporting."[2]

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