Who are Libya's rebels?

May 26, 2011

President Obama has invited the Libyan rebels' Transitional National Council to open a Washington office ("U.S promises to increase heat on Gadhafi," May 25).

But who appointed the Transitional National Council as the voice of the Libyan people? The Europeans and President Obama are anointing this organization with no input from the Libyan people. This shows the West's true colors as a presumptuous manipulator of world events to keep oil flowing.

The Transitional National Council is an unelected, self-appointed body consisting of rebels and defectors from the Gadhafi regime. Most of the rebel leaders are from Eastern Libya. Western Libya and the numerous tribal factions in Libya are not adequately represented by this body.

The council has no legitimacy, and only one unifying factor: a desire for Mr. Gadhafi's ouster. After Mr. Gadhafi is removed, this group will begin to show its true colors and its divisions.

The defectors who sit on this council were Mr. Gadhafi's henchmen for all the years his despotic rule prevailed in Libya. There is no way, under Mr. Gadhafi, these men imbibed the lessons of democracy or of just leadership. Their sudden switching of sides is more a sign of their perfidy to Mr. Gadhafi than of their loyalty to the Libyan people.

The defectors, who are opportunists and survivors, cannot become the architects of a new Libyan democracy. By owing their ascendancy to the French, the British and the Americans, they have already sold Libya out, and they will be no better than their predecessor when it comes to exchanging oil for arms with the West.

In Libya, at least, the Arab Spring has sprung a terrible leak — and those responsible for it are the democratic leaders of the West, who hypocritically claim their job is to facilitate the Arab Spring, not interfere in it.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

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