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Cracks emerge among Libya's rebels, from front lines to Tripoli

NTC chairman Mahmoud Jalil called on Libya's rebels to overcome the friction, tribalism, and political squabbling that has marred rebel leadership at a critical time of transition.

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Such warmth, however, no longer defines relations at the top. NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil arrived in Tripoli from Benghazi for the first time on Saturday, and national reconciliation is his top priority.

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"All revolutionaries: Avoid violating the sanctity of homes ... avoid harming the women and children of the former regime," said Mr. Jalil, emphasizing unity as he addressed thousands of flag-waving Libyans in his first public appearance in Tripoli. "If anyone is responsible for something, they alone are responsible. Children and wives have nothing to do with it."

Jalil's No. 2, Mr. Jibril, has already come under fire during his week in town.

“[Jibril] is not welcome here. He represents nobody,” said Anees al-Sharif, a spokesman for the Tripoli military council. “We just got rid of one dictator. We don’t want another one.”

Announcing the push to civilian rule late on Saturday, Jibril went out of his way to thank the “heroes” of the revolution, who fought – aided by NATO airstrikes – to topple the former regime.

Jibril gave special praise to the “leaders” of the fighting groups, especially those “who made sure that victory was maintained in the capital, Tripoli.” Talks were continuing with units across the country and were “going well,” he said.

“Of course, this is all to implement the legitimacy of the only legitimate state of government in Libya, which is in the NTC,” said Jibril. He also sought to paper over cracks with the military by praising Tripoli commander Belhadj – a former leader of anti-regime Islamists who was “rendered” by the CIA and MI6 to Libya in 2004, where he says he was tortured and held for seven years in prison.

Mr. Belhadj is a “very important member” of the High National Security Council, Jibril said when asked about the criticism. “He is part of us. We work together, and there is no gap. There is no problem between us. In fact, we work together very well.”

Jibril said that a new transitional government would be announced within 10 days, with representatives from all of Libya, “including those under siege that have not been liberated yet.”

Yet he also stated that all armed forces would now fall “under the umbrella of the NTC.”

At the rally Monday, Jalil gave a glimpse of the NTC's political aims. "We seek to establish a state governed by law and welfare," he said. "Sharia [Islamic law] should be the main source of law."

Squabbles on the front lines

Divisions among anti-Qaddafi forces extend far beyond Tripoli, however. In one town on the edge of the western mountains, a dozen anti-Qaddafi fighters killed each other in a skirmish on Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Along the front lines, too, fighters have squabbled while trying to advance on Qaddafi strongholds. At Bani Walid, a bastion of Qaddafi’s Warfallah tribe 90 miles southeast of Tripoli, units from Tripoli and elsewhere left the front line on Saturday and Sunday nights and returned to the capital.


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