Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rebels retake Ajdabiya and advance to Brega

With a great deal of help from the allied forces, the Libyan rebels have finally retaken Ajdabiya.  It took some serious air strikes by the allied air forces to finally convince the Gadhafi ground troops to retreat.  There was no way the lightly armed rebel forces would have made any progress against the heavily armed and well trained Gadhafi forces. Ajdabiya is a key location at the intersection of roads to both Benghazi and Tobruk, both rebel strongholds. The rebels need to retain control of this town at all costs, but it remains to be seen if they are capable of strategic planning.

There are many factions in the rebel forces, but the two main ones are the older and better trained soldiers who have either defected from the Gadhafi forces or who are senior officers in the rebel hierarchy. The young men are the other main rebel faction. They have no war training, and many have abandoned their schooling and careers to fight for the rebel cause.  Neither group seem to communicate with each other.  For example, after Ajdabiya was retaken, the young guys immediately took off down the road to Brega, an oil port town on the coast.  Allegedly, they were chasing Gadhafi's forces and claim to have retaken Brega.  These are unconfirmed reports, of course.  While all this was happening, the older rebels were back in Ajdabiya planning their next move.

It's hard to tell if this is genuine progress in the fight to oust Gadhafi and his forces, or if it is simply the moving of pieces on a chess board.  In chess, an inexperienced player can throw a master off his game by being unpredictable and making reckless moves, but the master will eventually win every time. Is this the way the rebels are playing their strategy to overtake Gadhafi?  If so, their cause will eventually be defeated.  Of course, the unknown in all of this are the allied forces, who are highly trained and disciplined, but who are restricted to air strikes only.  Eventually, the outcome of this rebellion will be decided on the ground.  Who will be left standing, and how soon will this conflict culminate?  I suspect nobody has a clue at the moment.

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