Libya: “Zero Hour”

Rebel forces in Libya working to topple the Muammar Qaddafi regime are talking about the “zero hour”, marching on the capital city of Tripoli by the end of the month.

After living for 40 years under the shadow of the Muammar el-Qaddafi regime, anti-government unrest began to uproot the oil-rich nation in February 2011, another domino in the “Arab Spring”.  Finding its roots in the city of Benghazi, the riots had quickly spread to Tripoli but military suppression, both relentless and violently, by Colonel Qaddafi quickly left the rebels outgunned and outnumbered.   Nonetheless, with authorized military action by both the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the rebels were able to intensify their attacks and quickly push back the loyalist forces that had marched as close to 100 miles of their stronghold in the city of Benghazi.

Nevertheless, Libya has shown the same characteristics of another Arab country nearby which also underwent a series of fluctuating interventions by the international community, Iraq.  A victim to anti-government sentiment, civil war, and active terrorist militia groups, the country was and remains destroyed, clearly exemplified by the coordinated bombings across Iraq that left 75 dead on August 15th.  With the NATO assistance harassed by both the rebels and loyalist forces, largely due in part because of high civilian costs by air sorties, as well as countries such as the US and Norway which have withdrawn much of its military assistance; Libya has experienced the fluctuation of foreign involvement that has embarrassed much of international involvement throughout the world.  Along with the death of General Younis, the leader of the rebel movement, on July 28th, the united front of rebels seems to be on the verge of dispersing into various militias, all victim to infighting. (Read more at past blog: Libya: NATO Involvement May be Ending)

Emerging from reports of rebel infighting, Qaddafi forces posing as rebels, the disbanding of the rebel cabinet to placate the family of General Younis and international uncertainty in regards to swift victory; recent events have sparked hope for the liberation of Libya under the National Transitional Council.  For example, on August 15th, Colonel Qaddafi’s interior minister, Nassr al-Mabrouk Abddullah fled Libya to Cairo. This illustrated the new crack in the Qaddafi regime, as well as confirming the weakening political power of Qaddafi. Combined with news that the fighters have begun to seize ground in the strategic city of Zawiyah, an oil rich city only 30 miles from Tripoli, the rebel leaders may be emerging from the hole that had only appeared to be going down.  The key factor is the battle for Zawiya, as it provides a strong strategic stronghold just west of Tripoli. The rebels have made advances in the south and easy, but as always the news is never a casting a clean and hopeful outlook.  From the rooftops around the city’s Martyr’s Square, a single sniper “martyr” loyal to Qaddafi has been able to halt the western fleet of rebels.  Coincidentally, this seems reminiscent of Vassili Zaitsev during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II. As history revealed then, that battle became a turning point for the victory of the West.  So saying, the rebel victory over Zawiya may have similar effects to help create a rearmament stronghold to which the rebels will be able to use in their takeover of Tripoli.

“This sniper is really tormenting us” – Hareth al-Fasi, 24 year old student from Sutton Coldfield

As the sniper takes his toll on the rebels, Qaddafi’s so-called “rats” were targeted by a Scud Missile, with a range of 200 miles.  So saying, the supposed “rats” must be making Qaddafi rather desperate as he has resorted to highly destructive missiles.  Sadly, the desperation has also reached the loyalist troops who have been reported to have removed their uniforms to better blend in with the population, allowing a better ability to launch a form of urban/guerrilla warfare (hiding among the ranks of civilians, attacking and running away). This has come as a dangerous sign that these troops are preparing for a bloody war, one that will not end swiftly.

“We will be very careful entering Tripoli, which we hope to do by the end of this month” – Colonel Ahmed Banni, military spokesman for National Transitional Council

The rebels have taken control of towns west of Zawiya, including Surman and Subrata but Qaddafi loyalists are shelling the rebels from a nearby town.  There are also reports of fierce fighting in Terhouna, as well as the industrial are of al-Braga, which is divided between both Qaddafi’s fores and rebel forces.  The circumstances are made worse as the rebels control the residential areas in al-Braga and past tactics of the loyalists has been indiscriminate shelling and artillery.  Evidently, such tactics will result in high civilian casualties and only make matters worse for the future of the destroyed country.

So saying, the Libyan rebels are taking ground at high costs.   Even though it does not matter which “side” is responsible for widespread damage (loyalists, rebels, or international bombardments), the country has been decimated by the war and what little there is left for the National Transitional Council to govern over, there will be much to do and much to reconstruct.  Similar to Iraq, the government will be split by remaining militia groups, infighting, and the problem of constructing a proper government with the proper defenses and proper financial assets.  If the NTC is confident in its victory, and if it is victorious in the end, there must come a time, very soon, when the NTC asks what they really want under their own rule.

Additional statement as of 8/17/2011:

The Telegraph:

Article on the plans for the transitioning period for Libya, as well as the truth behind the statement “zero hour”.  Qaddafi’s days are numbered!


13 responses to “Libya: “Zero Hour”

  1. This is random but yesterday I saw this documentary on the Baltic storm( if you dont know what it was you should look into it ) you should do and entry on the event . It would make an interesting post that incorporates the essence of your blog.

    • Thank you for the notice. I will look into it. I have read a lot about the Baltic tension, mainly due to its historic affluence during World War I. I also know there is a movie titled “Baltic Storm”. Is that what you are referring to?

      • Yes ,I was referring to the movie “Baltic Storm” which is based on the MS Estonia disaster . I think that the whole cover up of the cause of the disaster and the corruption that is seen from the cover up is quite an intertesting topic.

      • Yeah. I had read into the disaster and the supposed cover up by the Swedish and American government, when studying the Cold War and writing a report on the US and USSR arms contest. The entire situation reminded me of the Lusitania which had civilian passengers on board but also head arms shipments from the US to Britain, hence the German sinking of the ship. The situation is a clear depiction of the decline in the value of human life that is emerging currently. Governments are more concerned about power, staying in power, maintaining or getting the upper hand, and money. The Americans and Soviets were both examples of this during the Cold War: proxy wars, mutual deterrence, nuclear arms buildup, social alienation, and extreme ideological polarization. The move to cover up the sunk cruise liner illustrated the irresponsibility of the entire situation. The British were aiding the Americans in their efforts to spy on the Soviet build up of arms and I feel the Swedes, being Western powers, were well aware of the possible consequences of destructive explosives on board but committed to the act on the basis that the Soviets were extreme socialists, corrupting Eastern Europe. The Cold War, in general, was a very exciting time period to be studied currently but it also marks a rather interesting decline in human worth, government supremacy, and the growing bond among global nations.

  2. Oh wow when I was watching that film I remember thinking that the disaster seemed similar to something I had studied in history before but I guess I didn’t really thought about until you mention the Lusitania. That was the event that it reminded me of. It is true governments tend to strive for ultimate power when they are supposed to be constituted to set guidelines and ultimately think of the people. The power just gets to their head and this is reflected on the decisions that take place behind closed doors that are only known when there are leaks of information.

    • Glad I could remind you of Lusitania.
      But as you said, history is plagued with such instances of government corruption. Any neo-Communist country currently is a great example. They are able to hide behind walls of military power, social suppression, and political corruption. With the rise in technology and communicatona cross borders, I feel that those days of isolation will soon be over. An example of this is the Arab Spring, being able to use social networking and other media assets, activists have been able to launch broad ranging demonstrations, overcoming the rallying point that was a barrier in the past. With these assets, the activists can ensure that they will not be alone in their efforts. The problem that still exists, is moving forward. What can countries like Syria do once the revolts have begun? Military action has not brought them victory. Even in Libya, with foreign involvement, any gains have come at high costs. The futurs must be taken in measured steps.
      To focus more on government corruption: The Shahiba.
      They are a terrorist militia group used by Bashar al-Assad to instill fears of sectarian divide between Sunni and Awati. These militia have executed, tortures, and beaten both rebel and loyalists to illsutrate the anarchy and chaos that would fluctuate with the reign of Bash al-Assad. Clear violations of human rights are widespread in Syria and these thugs have been able to rampage throughout towns and cities mercillessly killing those in their ways. Of course, being a form of a foreign gang, the government is able to claim no responsibility or knowldge of their actions. Thus, this has led the internaitonal community accusing Bashar al-Assad of “outsourcing” terrorism.
      More example can be found in the cruel punishments and extensive jail sentencing found in China, Cuba, Venezuela, and so forth.
      The situation in India (a possiblr topic for one of today’s blogs) is another example of action being taken to combat corruption.

      • I see your whole point of corruption being slowly combated but as these steps to improvement are taking place, when events such as the gradual widespread of socialism in the South America region .The economic crisis that the majority of the world is passing through. Which such economic crisis that has had the effects of causing people to react in a chaotic matter around the world seen is such violent behavior as the London riots that have widespread around England n a rapid manner. As well as the many events that you have mention in your post. The combat of corruption seems like a small glimmer of hope .However, as you said which I really liked “the future has to be taken in measured steps”.

      • South America is an interesting region to say the least. Countries such as Venezuela, who have been victim to there cancer affected leader Hugo Chavez, is a clear example of corruption. But to quickly take a detour, during the Cold War, the US was worried about what Eisenhower called “Domino Theory”. Countries under duress, political/social/economic, were more likely to seek aid from the Soviets socialism. The Marshall Plan, or the Economic Recovery Plan, was entirely aimed as rejuvenating the European continent to ensure the halt of socialism in countries such as Greece and Turkey. So saying, the circumstances within South America, Central America included,are ripe for corruption because of the lack of organization, the economic desperation, and prevalence of violence and bribery. But, as an “optimistic” blogger, Venezuela is neighbored by one of the most “perfect”-democracies in that region, Columbia under the elected president Santos. This is followed up by the left-wing Brazil, one of the most booming economies in the world. Though more left-wing than the US or fellow Latin American nations, they are along the lines of leftist nations such as Germany and France. Moreover, Chile, after experiencing a detrimental earthquake, was able to recuperate with minimal foreign aid and still maintain a high level of democracy. Nations who have underwent a earthquake that has weakened or destroyed their infrastructure (as the case in Haiti but not Chile) are more likely to experience the overthrow of the old ways for something new, which has been communism currently. I feel this is a huge reason why so much aid is given by democratic nation of the West to such nations. I feel that Indonesia was an interesting example as it illustrated the competition that does exist in such “humanitarian efforts”. China and the West seem to always compete on who an provide the most assistance.
        The nations undergoing the “Arab Spring” demonstrates the air of democracy that has reached those nations. With nations around the world experiencing liberalization, not to mention a measure of representation against possible corruption, the nations have joined the cause. The fight against corruption and the old ways of suppression will be a long one in some countries (Iran, Syria, China,etc) but hope is never far way. Egypt, though currently undergoing political uncertainty and upheaval because of the military junta now in place, was successful in usurping Mubarak. Libya, at high costs, is also encroaching on Qaddafi. And there are more examples that can be found currently and throughout history.
        So yes, chaos and desperation are keys to corruption. The people of London are the younger generation rioting to ensure that their government realizes that they will not remain quiet while they enact social reforms. The entire economic situation concerns the new generation as it has been caused by the ignorance of the older generations. With the nature of current generations being immediacy (texting, fast food,television, everything is under their control and rapid) these long term cuts on their society does not seem pleasing. Nevertheless, these actions must be taken and as always, people will be left angry but sacrifices must be made to secure the future.

  3. I was born in Colombia so I am pretty acquainted with its almost “perfect” democracy. I feel like Colombia would also have even more economic progress and overall be one of the developing countries that are progressing at a fast pace if guerilla groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ,also know in Spanish as FARC, would not try to debilitate the country with its violence and disastrous ideals. It is interesting how Chavez government is actually providing these types of groups funds and land to train in Venezuela. Chavez is actually slowly becoming a threat seeing as he is influencing other leaders as well as he is being advised by no other than Fidel Castro. The danger can be seen in how Castro has actually advised Chavez to nationalize its petroleum and gold. It definitely makes me wonder what Castro is going to advise Chavez next. As for the London riots I fully understand the cause behind the riots but what I don’t agree with is the blatant vandalism of stores. This vandalism is not doing anything for the cause because innocent store owners are being affected and vandalism does not lead anywhere. In my opinion a more peaceful approach such as the illustrious example of Gandhi are more effective.

    • I have friends from Columbia that often speak of the FARC, as well as the frequent kidnappings within Columbia. The most interesting facet of supplying arms, I find, is that China is the source for all finances, in general the entire infrastructure, of nations such as Cuba and Colombia. Even Brazil benefits from China’s attention. China is the inspirational source for such corruption, in any sense or form, if you will you allow me to make such a hasty generalization. So saying, Colombia is one of the greater democracies within South America. The region is plagued with a long history of a rather uncertain and fluctuating infrastructure, both financially and politically, but there are models of progress there as well. The development of some Eastern European nations, African nations, and nations like Chile provide illustration for such progress.
      Mentioning Gandhi, the recent demonstration by Anna Hazare have been compared to the peaceful demonstration by Gandhi. My only problem with his tactic is that he has resorted to such means quickly, displacing any notion of social order, without assessing democratic means. I feel as if he may have jumped the gun and has quickly divided the nation, as well. India has corruption deeply ingrained into its structure and fasting seems like a short term tool to seek immediate reform. Immediate reform will not resolve such issues. Nevertheless, I will gladly admit to being wrong if India is able to move through its problems swiftly.

    • Because you are an intelligent person that recognizes the truth of the situation and does not fall easily to manipulation by sensationalist media?

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