Libya: An Ugly War Getting Uglier

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Libyan rebels scored their most important victory in the nearly three-month old uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, when they captured the airport in Misrata on Wednesday, virtually taking control of the city. Gaddafi’s forces had been besieging Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, for two months and had driven the rebels into an area around the harbour, where they were subjected to constant rocket and artillery fire. Two Western journalists, one American and one British, were among the people killed by the heavy barrage during this time.

“The airport and its approaches were the last remaining pieces of significant terrain in the city to be controlled by the Qaddafi soldiers,” the New York Times reported.

NATO immediately followed up the rebel success with air strikes on Thursday on a compound in Tripoli. Three civilians were allegedly killed in the attack, but after a government-guided tour of the area, reporters suspect civilians are being used as human shields in the compound to protect a possible underground military complex.

The rebels’ capture of Misrata is important for several reasons. It is the only city the anti-Gaddafi forces hold in Western Libya and is regarded as the stepping stone to capturing Tripoli, Gaddafi’s stronghold. Located 130 miles east of Tripoli, a Misrata in rebel hands represents a knife at Gaddafi’s throat. Which is why the Libyan leader fought so bitterly to take it from rebel hands and why strenuous efforts may still be made in counterattacks to recover the lost ground there. But even if Gaddafi does succeed in containing the insurgents within Misrata, their victory will certainly add to the accumulating military strain on his forces.

Moreover, the rebels’ taking of Misrata is a huge public relations coup. In the eyes of the world, the battle for Misrata had become an important symbol of the anti-Gaddafi cause. Gaddafi is now seen to have failed to attain a goal he badly wanted and needed, and so close to home at that, while the rebels prevailed. Ultimately, if the rebels overthrow Gaddaffi, the Misrata victory may become for the Libyan conflict what Stalingrad was for the Soviets: a psychological and military turning point.

On the rebel side, probably their greatest advantage in breaking Misrata’s isolation consists in the fact they can now start to bring in food and medical supplies through the sea port for the city’s 500,000 desperate, suffering people. Only tugboats and a few Red Cross ships had risked making the trip to Misrata during the siege due to the danger.

Supplying soldiers and civilian populations, or logistics as military strategists term it, decides many wars, and some analysts believe this is what will determine the Libyan conflict’s outcome. On Wednesday, the rebels scored an important triumph in this area by opening an avenue to feed the people under their control in an important city.

Gaddafi, on the other hand, is facing a bleak future logistics-wise. Although Gaddafi’s army is believed to have enough weapons and ordnance for a year’s fighting, his ability to feed Tripoli’s one million people for that period of time is problematic. NATO has imposed a tight air and sea blockade around his stronghold. An extended period of suffering could see a renewal of the anti-Gaddafi protests the Libyan capital experienced earlier in the conflict that loyal security forces seem to have quelled. But when people become very hungry and unhappy, like in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, force will not prevent them from taking to the streets again.

While NATO countries are blocking Gaddafi’s supplies, they are helping rebel logistics significantly with shipments of food and aid to Benghazi, the rebel stronghold. The first American ship to deliver “non-lethal aid” to the rebels arrived in Benghazi this week. Among the items delivered were 10,000 ready-to-eat meals. Ships from other NATO countries have already made trips to Benghazi, delivering food and aid, while Qatar has been sending the rebels weapons, the only country reported to have done so. The rebels have asked NATO for better weapons but the alliance has been slow to respond. The United Nations has imposed an arms embargo on Libya, but some governments interpret it as applying only to Gaddafi.

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  • Arius

    The West is insane, supporting the Islamists in Libya. The West is suicidal.

  • Dexxona

    Shame on you NATO vultures, Libya is a sovereign country, majority of people support Gaddafi. there was a tribes meeting a week ago, 850 tribes in Libya want Gaddafi to stay and you are making people's lives hell because of minority of rebels- most of them dissidents from abroad who want to share the wealth of Libyan people to oligarchs and corporations. Can't you see what these so called rebels are doing, torturng little children, decapitating, mutilating there are many videos of their savagery that you can find, why isnt anyone bringing this up in media? Are you all that corrupt?? Does anyone care about the humanity anymore or is it just about the money money money?

    These are facts of Libya under Gaddafi!
    * GDP per capita – $ 14,192.
    * Unemployment benefit – $ 730.
    * Each family member subsidized by the state gets annually $ 1.000
    * Salary for nurses – $ 1.000.
    * For every newborn is paid $ 7.000.
    * The bride and groom receive a $ 64 thousand to purchase flats.
    * Major taxes and levies prohibited.
    * To open a personal business a one-time financial assistance of $ 20.000
    * Education and medicine are free.
    * Educ.Internships abroad – at government expense.
    * Stores for large families with symbolic prices for basic foodstuffs.
    * Part of pharmacies – with free dispensing.
    * Loans for buying a car and an apartment – no interest.
    * Real estate services are prohibited.,
    * Buying a car up to 50% paid by the State.
    * No Payment for electricity for the population.
    * Sales and use of alcohol is prohibited.
    * Petrol is cheaper than water. 1 liter of gasoline – $ 0.14

    So you tell me what is the real reason NATO is in Libya? It is so very obvious!
    Wake up people! This can happen to you too!

    The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
    Albert Einstein

    • Jack

      Where do you get your facts? Libya has only around 140 tribes/clans, not 850. I don't know how many of them support Gaddafi, but clearly many of them do not. Sure, Libya is not a poor country, as your statistics show, but that's because it has oil, not because Gaddafi is a great leader. But there is one thing the Libyan people do not have, which everyone in the world wants, and that is called FREEDOM, and that is why they have rebelled against Gaddafi.

    • JPetruk

      Methinks these "statistics" are fraudulent. You need to disclose the source of these stats. They are incredible (meaning "not credible").

  • nunyainct

    I have read the opposition to Gaddafi are Islamists (al Qaeda, specifically) and exactly whom should not be backed. Anywhere you have shariah law, you have no real Democracy. As Harvard Historian Niall Ferguson pointed out in February on the Morning Joe show, in order to help stabilize countries in the Middle East with some form of democracy, you start the process decades beforehand by helping to prop up those leaders who favor democracy and will be allies to the US. One cannot expect a country to fall that has had a dictator for decades and to be replaced by a happy clappy democracy. The Obama administration is amateur hour, and the other world leaders know it. Our allies are horrified, and our enemies are delighted.

  • Jack

    Shame on Gaddafi for being an evil dictator and killing the Libyan people who were protesting peacefully. His days are numbered. There will be an international arrest warrant for him which will give us the right to go arrest him. If he refuses to be arrested, he will be shot, which is exactly what he deserves.

  • Wesley69

    In Libya, a rebellion broke out, capturing certain Libyan cities. To regain control, Gaddafi starting killing his own people. He had the rebels on the run. On the approval of the UN, Obama entered the conflict to prevent the massacre. Now, the stated goal is the overthrow of Gaddafi.

    Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who used chemical weapons against the Kurds and massacred thousands of Shiites. The world believed he had WMDs (CHECK UNDER CLINTON). We got involved in Iraq, toppling Hussein, but got bogged down suppressing the insurgency. Democrats, including Obama, wanted to cut funding to that war and undercut Bush. They said that the war was lost, but they supported the troops.

    Is Libya a better war than Iraq? Can someone explain the difference?

    In Afghanistan, Bush toppled the Taliban, then moved onto Iraq. Obama said Iraq was the bad war, but Afghanistan was the good war. Can someone explain to me why Obama isn't trying to win and is planning on a withdrawal from Afghanistan?

  • shaan

    You armed and supported Osama bin laden, he brought death upon you. Now you arm and support the Libyan rebels who were already fighting against you in Iraq, will they bring you peace?

  • Marco

    Good news! But I don`t think that they should cut off food to Tripoli, just arms and other materials important to military force.That kind of blockade is putting a terrible strain on many innocent people.

  • LindaRivera

    Aiding the most radical elements of Islam and achieving conquest for Islamists has become the top priority of American leaders. With very strong U.S. backing, French military and UN troops waged war against Ivory Coast Christians to gain victory for barbaric Muslim forces.

    In Egypt, U.S. betrayed ally, Mubarak, is under arrest, his wife was just taken to hospital for a suspected heart attack and his sons are in jail. The Muslim Brotherhood is now the most powerful group in Egypt and Egypt and Iran are getting very close. And Egyptians are holding anti-peace rallies.

    Egyptians, Jordanians hold anti-peace rallies
    Cairo protestors burn Israeli flags, chant 'millions of martyrs marching to Jerusalem' ahead of upcoming Palestinian 'Nakba Day'; Jordanian demonstrators demand end to peace treaty with Israel, expulsion of envoy

    Roee Nahmias and AP

    Arab hostility: Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered at Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday,7340,L-4068192

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Europe is maneuvering for better oil contracts out of Libya but do not see
    the growing evil of Islamist thugs, people that will make Gadaffi look like
    a boy scout will come into power and doublecrosses will take place
    daily. Where Obama is in all of this may come out some day but
    he is not in it for America and our interests but to further World Wide
    Islamist expansion. I am not saying he is a Muslim, no he is the Devil.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    This reminds me of the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, when delusional leftists and RINO neo-con Republicans, who have hijacked the Republican Party and morphed it into the second coming of the Dhimmicrat Party, were easily manipulated via taqiyya into fighting a jihad for the Dar al Islam against the Christian Serbs, who prior to the wars were our loyal friends and reliable allies. Hence, with a leftist hijacked federal government and a compliant leftwing media, which also includes the pro RINO neo-con Fox News, truth and justice doesn’t stand a chance. No wonder this country is going to hell in a hand basket so fast.

  • BS77

    What you don't hear about concerning Libya: the immense damage and ruination of the nation's infrastructure by the relentless NATO bombing and missiles. You don't hear about the MILLIONS of poor Libyan men, women and children who are now refugees in their own country….food, water and medical care are in short supply. The country is being mangled by outsiders who really could care less about the outcome. WHether Gaddafi goes or not, the poor nation has been severely damaged by careless, clueless imperial-like interests. It is worse than a tragedy. It will take decades to repair the damage done to the Libyan people's homeland. This is a disastrous campaign, without much thought given.

  • Why support islam?

    The Benghazi rebels are Al Queda!!!

    They have themselves said that.

    Is the Obama admin nuts???

    Yes it clearly is.

    An islamic state will emerge in Libya, and as well in Tunisia. These new states will ally with Brotherhood Egypt and attack Israel as well as America.

    The West is so stupid!