Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Libyan rebels ready for the fight of their lives

It appears the Libyan rebels are regrouping for the fight of their lives by placing themselves between Gadhafi's troops and Benghazi.  A BBC video report tells of the citizens of Benghazi standing firm with their leaders and the fighters. It looks like defecting troops are supporting the rebel cause in this last ditch effort to keep the rebellion alive.

If you look at the map of Libya showing where the strongholds are, you can see it is not over yet.  The cities of Misrata and Zuwara over in the west near Tripoli are still rebel strongholds, although they are no doubt under siege by Gadhafi's troops. Gharyan, Kufra, and Jalou are three smaller cities deep in the Sahara Desert south of the coast.  These cities are still with the rebels, and we can reasonable assume remote areas are still supporting the rebel cause.  Since they are not as strategic for Gadhafi at the moment, his troops are likely not deployed there.

Benghazi and Tobruk are both large cities, and both rebel strongholds. Many news agencies report the rebel cause is widely supported by the citizens of these two cities.

An interesting proposition is published in Thomas Ricks' column on the Foreign Policy website, titled
Take Qaddafi out!: An Egyptian view.  He asked  Yasser El-Shimy, a former Egyptian diplomat now teaching in the United States, for his opinion.  He states:
"The Libyan rebels in Benghazi, Tobruk, Misrata and other liberated cities are ready and willing to fight Qaddafi's forces, when they are supplied with weapons that can match Qaddafi's. What is more, given the personality cult that is Qaddafi's regime, if an airstrike could target him (and his inner circle), the regime would collapse before the dust has even settled."
This is the sort of intervention I would like to see.  Help the rebel cause with precision strikes against Gadhafi.  I doubt if the rebels would care if he is hit personally or his air power is taken out with strikes at key airfields. He then goes on to discuss the finer points of the consequences of outside inaction:
"Winning in Libya is neither impossible, nor costly. It requires resolve and determination to convey the message to those fighting for the vicious colonel that the game is over. Once Qaddafi's circle realizes that he and they are becoming walking targets, they are likely to start switching sides. If they don't, taking out the Qaddafi family would immediately bring about the end of the highly-personalized regime. This plan involves zero soldiers on the ground, and would be passionately welcomed by Arab citizens everywhere, especially if it has Egyptian participation or Arab-backing. Short of demonstrating this kind of resolve, the world should take a seat, turn on Al Jazeera and watch Libyans get killed en masse."
The UN wanted to see a plan.  OK, here is one that has a good chance of working and involves sending no troops into Libya on the ground.  Now let's get on with it!

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