Saturday, April 09, 2011

Libya: the rebellion grinds on

As predicted by many of the high level military advisors to President Obama, the Libyan rebellion has become a civil war, and both sides are virtually stalemated.  This has caused anger and pointed questions being asked by the people living in the rebel-held areas of Libya, and outright hostility from the rebel fighters.

Libyan rebels take a wounded prisoner back to hospital
for treatment.
Here is a revealing article published by the Guardian: Libya rebels vent frustration on Nato and a silent leadership Benghazi rebels feel they are being denied the promised air power and kept in the dark by revolutionary council.

As I pointed out a few blog articles ago, the rebel forces are depending on NATO to fight their war.  This is not a good idea.  NATO is there to protect civilians as best it can, not to fight a war.  In any case, there is no winning a war with air power only.  Ultimately, the rebels have to win the war on the ground, face-to-face with Gadhafi's forces.  If they are not up to the task, then they will lose this round, and the rebellion will go underground.  Gadhafi will then wreak vengeance on anyone who remotely looks like a rebel, including every citizen of cities currently in rebel-held territory.

If the Libyan revolution comes to that, the UN will have some serious decisions to make.  Do they increase their involvement in Libya and put some  troops on the ground, or do they withdraw?  Either decision will be painful and fraught with danger for the Libyan civilians.  If the UN wants to put troops on the ground, they would find it very difficult to find member nations who would be willing to get involved in an Arab civil war.  If they decide to withdraw the NATO forces, Gadhafi will take his ruthless revenge on the Libyan people.  Tough choice...not one they wish to have to make.

Amid all this second guessing, diplomacy is going on behind the scenes.  This is far and away the Libyan people's best chance of freedom from Gadhafi and his clan.  If Gadhafi can be convinced to leave Libya, then the provisional government could take over running the country in the short term, put a constitution in place, and hold elections just like Egypt has done.  We can only hope.

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