Libya’s Islamist Commander Backs NTC Despite Being Cut Out of Cabinet

Former CIA Torture Victim Says He Expects Good Relations With New DM

In comments today, Libya’s top Islamist leader and the NTC’s de facto military commander Abdulhakim Belhaj says that he will support the NTC’s new cabinet, despite the composition having cut him and his supporters out of every single ministry.

I hope that it will be granted all the support it needs,” Belhaj added, saying that he hoped that his forces would continue to enjoy good relations with the new defense minister. Belhaj had been considered a shoe-in for the position, but ended up with no portfolio at all.

Belhaj took center-stage as the leader of the largest NTC-loyal fighting force over the summer, when General Younes was assassinated. Since then Belhaj, who was at one point “renditioned” by the CIA into Gadhafi regime custody, has led a powerful Islamist faction within the NTC.

But it is a faction unpopular with NATO, and when Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib unveiled his cabinet, no Islamists were allowed in. This was seen as a nod to NATO, but was also seen as dangerously alienating the Islamists.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.