In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Gaddafi’s forces bogged down in clashes in Libya

Posted by seumasach on March 16, 2011

So, which is it? Are Gaddafi’s forces bogged down or our they on an unstoppable course to retake Benghazi? My take is that they are bogged down and that time is not on their side. If this is true London and Washington will be worried- they want the Arab revolution crushed here and now right across the Arab world. On the other hand they want to prepare intervention if his demise is seen as inevitable in order to have some influence on the post-Gaddafi set up. The pretext for that would be an imminent Gaddafi victory. The media chorus announcing the collapse of the revolution could therefore mean the exact opposite.

Irish Sun

16th March, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were bogged down in a battle for control of Libya’s northern cities, with little progress made Wednesday, despite the anti-government forces reporting a number of rebel casualties.

The opposition said up to 11 people were killed in the northern city of Misurata, some 200 km east of the capital Tripoli. Residents said that both water and electricity had been cut in the city.

Misurata is home to several hundred thousand people and is considered to be the country’s third most populated city after Tripoli and Benghazi.

Rebels said they had destroyed three of Gaddafi’s tanks in the Misurata, but Libyan state television reported the embattled leader’s forces had made gains in the northeastern rebel-hub of Benghazi.

Earlier Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam declared Benghazi would be taken within 48 hours.

‘Military operations are over. Within 48 hours everything will be finished. Our forces are almost in Benghazi. Whatever the decision, it will be too late,’ the younger Gaddafi said in an interview with the Paris-based Euronews TV channel.

According to the government television channel, three important tribes in Benghazi had proclaimed their support to Gaddafi.

However, such comments have been dismissed by Benghazi residents.

Fathi, who wished to use his first name only, told DPA that Gaddafi’s forces had attacked near the city’s airport, but with little damage.

Gaddafi’s forces have also been using air and ground attacks to attempt to retake control of the cities of Brega and Ajdabiya, both northeastern cities a few hundred kilometres from Benghazi.

‘He can only hit Benghazi with airstrikes. He cannot enter with ground troops because it’s tightly controlled by rebels,’ said Fathi.

‘We are confident and we all have our spirits up,’ he added.

There were concerns however that Gaddafi loyalists inside Benghazi were feeding back information about the opposition. Up to 13 of these alleged infiltrators were arrested overnight Tuesday, according to Fathi.

Meanwhile, the ongoing battles in Misurata and other northern cities, including Ajdabiya appeared to lay false to claims by Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam that the battle for rebel-held cities would be over within days.

But late Tuesday, a pilot named Muhammad Mokthar Osama allegedly flew his plane in a suicide mission into Bab Azizia, a military compound in the heart of Tripoli.

While only the pilot was killed in the alleged attack, the opposition have said it symbolizes how vulnerable Gaddafi is, even in the capital.

According to the opposition, Gaddafi has placed senior military officers close to him under house arrest out of fears they may revolt against him.

But Gaddafi told supporters in Tripoli late Tuesday that he would ‘crush the enemy’ and face the opposition forces that have claimed victory in several northeastern cities. He called the opposition ‘stray dogs’.

‘We will liberate Libya,’ said Gaddafi. ‘We are determined to defeat this conspiracy. Colonial imperialism will be defeated. France and the United States will be defeated. Britain will be defeated and freedom will prevail.’

His comments were made the same day that foreign ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) nations failed to agree on military intervention in Libya to prevent his forces from violently reclaiming control of the country.

However, the G8 meeting Tuesday in Paris left open the issue of a no-fly zone.

According to Libyan rebels, the opposition’s National Council is against foreign troops in the country, but would likely be in favour of foreign assistance to strike at Gaddafi’s air forces.

The uprising against Gaddafi’s 42-year-long rule erupted Feb 15, with the opposition claiming that over 6,000 people have been killed since. The figure could not be independently verified.

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