Maj Gen Suleiman Mahmoud Al-Obeidi officially defects

A Point of View, Libya, Middle East & North Africa, Politics | | February 23, 2011 at 09:49

The Commander of Army in Tobrouk in the far east of Libya, Maj. Gen Suleiman Mahmoud, has officially gone over to the rebellion. His full name is Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi which puts him in the same tribe as Maj. Gen. Abdul Fattah Younis who made his dramatic defection yesterday on TV. This is probably a good indication that the Obedi tribe from the Tobrouk region is another of the Libyan tribes that has gone over to the people against Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi’s government is melting away. Control of many areas is reverting to Libya’s many tribes, which Gaddafi has played against each other to help maintain his grip on the country for 42 years. That strategy has backfired. The Obeidat tribe is from the Tabrouk area. Surely he did not expect a military made up of tribesmen to attack their own people

Gaddafi belongs to the Qadhafah tribe, which was not a strong influence until he took power. He joined forces with the the Magariha which is reportedly the second largest tribe after the Walfalla. The convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrehi is a member of the Magariha tribe.

There is word coming out now that the Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil has proof Gaddafi ordered the Lockerbie bombing. That operation would certainly have given the Magariha tribe a power boost in his regime. My opinion: We need to see a major defection from the Magariha tribe. Look for the last name of al-Megrehi.

There are reports that individuals of most tribes have joined anti-Gaddafi protests, most likely the younger members. Before his defection, Abdul Fattah Younis of the Obeidat supposedly had a conversation with Gaddafi about their “sons.”

Gaddafi kept the Warfalla tribe out of  the power structure which is why they were so quick to put their support behind the uprising. No love lost there.

Maj. Gen. Suleiman Mahmoud claims that Col. Gaddafi once successfully played tribes against each other, but that in recent years, these groups have generally been more united.

“This is propaganda that if Gaddafi dies, then Libya will fall apart in civil war,” he said. “Libyan society is united. We have responsible and capable generals and academics who can step up when Mr. Gaddafi falls.”

When the protests swelled, the Khamis Brigade, commanded by Gaddafi’s son Khamis, was sent in as reinforcements. both Libyan soldiers and foreign mercenaries are under “arrest” in the east. Rebel leaders in the eastern coastal city of  Beida say the Libyan soldiers will be handed over to their tribal leaders. Foreign fighters will be tried by a jury of locals today.

Related Wading through maze of Libyan tribes

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