As the Libyan rebels seem finally to be making some tortuously slow military progress, the political front threatens to fall apart:
Rebel leaders dissolved their own cabinet on Monday, in an effort to placate the family of an assassinated rebel military leader and quiet discord in a movement already struggling to remove the country’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, from power.
A rebel spokesman said that the prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, the only member of the cabinet who kept his job, would have to present a new slate of cabinet members to the rebel legislative body, the Transitional National Council, for approval in the coming days. The cabinet was dissolved, the spokesman said, “for improper administrative procedures” that led to the arrest and subsequent killing of the military leader, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, a former top Libyan commander who defected to the rebel side.
The move left the rebels without several of its leaders — including the ministers of defense, finance, interior and justice — as they try to fight a three-front war, run dozens of cities under their control and rein in armed militias that have multiplied since the February uprising.
In short, the fall of Qaddafi (if it happens) isn’t going to be the end of the mess. The best hope is that there’s a sufficient rump state left to be seized when/if the rebels arrive in Tripoli. I’m not particularly optimistic about that, though; Qaddafi seems to have eschewed strengthening formal administrative structures in preference for rulership through personalist ties. When/if he’s gone, the disparate, squabbling rebels may have to assemble state institutions from scratch.
In other news, I’m a touch skeptical that Assad is on his way out, but it would be rather rich if Qaddafi outlasted Assad, despite the NATO intervention.