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due in part because of high civilian costs by air sorties, as well as countries such as the US and Norway which have withdrawn much of its military assistance; Libya has experienced the fluctuation of foreign involvement that has embarrassed much of international involvement throughout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: http://tgr.ph/pjgQG2
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!