Libya’s Rebels – The Questions

The long drive from Cairo to Benghazi gave me plenty of time to reflect on my previous visits here and wonder what might have changed since May.

1. The rebels in Benghazi have always seemed a rag-tag bunch, with little idea of tactics or strategy. Every rapid advance was followed by rapid retreat. They seem to have been stuck on the road to Tripoli in roughly the same place for months. So have they managed to turn themselves into a decent fighting force?

2. Similarly the rebels in Misrata. They have been better organised and commanded, but have seen themselves as a defensive force, interested largely in protecting their city. And they were deeply suspicious of the rebel leadership in Benghazi. So are they now ready for more offensive operations?

3. The rebel leadership has looked out of its depth. Not only have they been reluctant to set up and run a civil service in the areas they control – much to the consternation of foreign diplomats – they have also failed to outline a coherent set of policies for when/if they take power. Six months on from February 17, is it any clearer who the National Transitional Council are and what they are all about?

4) My fixer had his car stolen in March, when Benghazi came under attack. We spent a long time after that looking for his Renault. Did he ever find the bloody thing?

Some of these questions may even have been answered as I drove in today. But I’ll post on them in the coming days and weeks.

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