The Emergence of Revolutionary Battalions in Misrata
Misrata, Libya’s third largest city, joined the revolution almost from the beginning despite benefitting under Qadhafi’s rule. This chapter argues that Misratans’ self-reliance and vision of Libya are rooted in its history and reinforced by insurgency: first against Italian colonial authority from 1911–1933 and then the 2011 revolution. The chapter examines the historical events and personalities that underpin Misratans’ sense of manifest destiny. Particular attention is paid to the inception of the revolutionary battalions and neighbourhood executive committees that oversaw them. Initially composed of three-to-five-person street-fighting cells, the groups coalesced into 236 organizations, some capable of operating tank divisions and coordinating using Global Positioning System devices. The fighting force was intensely cohesive and loyal to its leaders. These groups would go on to play decisive roles in the fall of Tripoli and Sirte, finally capturing and killing Qadhafi on 20 October 2011. The chapter then reviews the three stages of the fighting in Misrata. Possessing a significant proportion of the weapons and seasoned fighters in Libya, Misrata’s political and military leaders have a significant influence in the post-Qadhafi transitional period.
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