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Libya

 
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Libya

Exiled Opposition

Over twenty opposition groups exist outside Libya. The most important in 1987 was the Libyan National Salvation Front (LNSF), formed in October 1981, and led by Muhammad Yusuf al Magariaf, formerly Libyan ambassador to India. The LNSF was based in Sudan until the fall of the Numayri regime in 1985, after which its operations were dispersed. The LNSF rejected military and dictatorial rule and called for a democratic regime with constitutional guarantees, free elections, free press, and separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The group published a bimonthly newsletter, Al Inqadh (Salvation).

The LNSF claimed responsibility for the daring attack on Qadhafi's headquarters at Bab al Aziziyah on May 8, 1984. Although the coup attempt failed and Qadhafi escaped unscathed, dissident groups claimed that some eighty Libyans, Cubans, and East Germans perished. According to various sources, the United States Central Intelligence Agency trained and supported the LNSF before and after the May 8 operation. Domestically, some 2,000 people were arrested and 8 were hanged publicly. The LNSF also organized the April 1984 demonstration in London in which a British policewoman was killed by a Libyan diplomat, leading to the breaking of diplomatic relations between Tripoli and London.

Another opposition group, the Libyan Liberation Organization, based in Cairo, was formed in 1982. In 1987 it was led by Abdul Hamid Bakkush, a prime minister during the Idris monarchy. In midNovember 1984, Libyan officials were greatly embarrassed by their premature claims of responsibility for the assassination of Bakkush. In fact, the entire operation was elaborately stagemanaged by the Egyptian security forces, who produced a very much alive Bakkush on television along with members of the four-man hit squad, which reportedly consisted of two British citizens and two Maltese.

Al Burkan (The Volcano), a highly secretive and violent organization that emerged in 1984, has been responsible for the assassination of many Libyan officials overseas. For instance, it claimed responsibility for the death of the Libyan ambassador in Rome in January 1984, and, a year later, for the assassination of the Libyan Information Bureau chief, also in Rome. A Libyan businessman with close ties to Qadhafi was shot dead on June 21, 1984, in Athens during the visit of Abdul Salam Turayki, Libya's secretary of foreign liaison.

Less well-known opposition groups outside Libya were the Libyan Constitutional Union, the pro-Iraqi Libyan National Movement, the Libyan National Democratic Grouping led by Mahmud Sulaymon al Maghrabi, Libya's first postrevolutionary prime minister, and Al Haq, a rightist pro-monarchy group.

The opposition groups outside Libya remained disunited and largely ineffective. Divided ideologically into such groups as Baathists (see Glossary), socialists, monarchists, liberals, and Islamic fundamentalists, they agreed only on the necessity of overthrowing the Qadhafi regime. An initial step toward coordination was taken in January 1987 when eight opposition groups, including the Libyan National Movement, the Libyan National Struggle Movement, and the Libyan Liberation Organization, agreed to form a working group headed by Major Abd al Munim al Huni, a former RCC member who has been living in Cairo since the 1975 coup attempt that was led by another RCC member, Umar Muhayshi. Some observers speculated that because Huni appeared to be acceptable to all opposition groups and in view of his close ties to the military, he may well be the man most likely to succeed Qadhafi. If the Iranian experience offered any insights, the hallmark of the post-Qadhafi era would be a bloody power struggle between erstwhile coalition groups of diverse ideological beliefs. By early 1987, it was by no means clear which faction might emerge as the ultimate victor, should Qadhafi be toppled. It must be kept in mind, however, that the Libyan leader has outlasted many of his enemies, both foreign and domestic.

To deal with outside opposition, the Libyan regime continued its controversial policy of physical liquidation of opponents. On March 2, 1985, the GPC reiterated its approval of the policy of "the pursuit and physical liquidation of the stray dogs." During the 1985 wave of violence, a number of Libyans living abroad were killed or wounded. Among the casualties were former ambassador Ezzedin Ghadamsi, seriously wounded in Vienna on February 28; businessman Ahmad Barrani, killed in Cyprus on April 2; another businessman, Yusuf Agila, wounded in Athens on October 6; and Gibril Denali, a thirty-year-old student living in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) as a political refugee, assassinated in Bonn on April 6. The liquidation policy continued into 1987 when Muhammad Salim Fuhaymah, an executive committee member of the Libyan National Organization, was assassinated in Athens on January 7.

The physical liquidation policy has drawn universal condemnation. However, the impact of the policy, should not be exaggerated. During 1984, there were 4 assassinations of Libyans abroad and between 20 and 120 executions internally. Scholar Lillian Craig Harris, writing in late 1986, stated that since 1980 twenty anti-Qadhafi Libyans had been assassinated abroad.

Data as of 1987

 

Libya - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Government and Politics


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