In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

British Libya mission ‘not over’ as rebels struggle to impose order

Posted by seumasach on August 25, 2011

The silence form Tripoli is worrying and we must continue to concerned for the safety of Thierry Meyssan and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. In the meantime, in the absence of reliable direct reorting from Libya, we must read between the lines of mainstream media to try to discern what is happening. This article provides some clues and I post it here with my own comments.

25th August, 2011

Britain’s military operation in Libya is not over yet, the defence secretary warned this morning, amid continued attempts by rebels to impose order in the north African country.

With pro-regime snipers and diehard Gaddafi loyalists still holding sniper positions around the capital and a rebel advance moving on the coastal city of Sirte, analysts warned that the conflict in Libya could see considerably more bloodshed before it is brought to a close.

“I don’t think that we should in any way consider our mission as being over. There was increased Nato activity last night including British fast jets,” Liam Fox told Sky News.

[In the absence of sufficient forces on the ground NATO is still relying on bombing]

Rebel forces are becoming increasingly desperate to find Colonel Gaddafi so he can be prevented from acting as a figurehead for those elements still loyal to the regime.

[Yes, but also so that they can credibly declare victory and bring in British and French army forces as reinforcements]

Yesterday, rebel spokesman Mustafa Abdul Jalil effectively put a price on the dictator’s head, saying any member of his entourage who killed or captured him would receive an amnesty for any crimes they have committed.

The Telegraph reported this morning that British soldiers from the 22 SAS Regiment were helping rebels track him down.

The longer the current bout of street fighting goes on the more fears there are about the discipline of rebel fighters, who have already started looting and firing upon civilian houses according to some reports.

[Discipline has already broken down amongst the motley of mercenaries and rebels that NATO special forces are leading]

Widespread rumours that the Gaddafi armed many of the civilians in pro-regime areas of Tripoli have contributed to fears that the fighting is not restricted just to soldiers.

[Armed civilians are fighting back against NATO forces]

The Gaddafi compound at Bab al-Aziziya, which was euphorically taken over by rebels on Tuesday, came under heavy fire yesterday from the pro-regime area of Abu Salim.

[The euphoria was short-lived]

The woods around the city zoo are said to be covered in snipers while a building in the area once used by Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, was draped in a green flag symbolising the old regime.

Many rebels say the remaining Gaddafi loyalists are predominantly Arab and African mercenaries.

[The rebels are predominantly mercenaries]

Outside the capital, the Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte, where he was born, was facing a major rebel advance following the firing of scud missiles towards the rebel-controlled Misrata.

[NATO may have to intervene further to “prevent Gaddafi from killing more civilians”]

That scud attack is being variously interpreted as the initial salvo in a ‘stay-behind’ strategy modelled on that employed by Saddam Hussein’s forces after the fall of Baghdad in 2003 or just a desperate last stand.

[Bad guys always fire scuds]

The rebel’s nightmare scenario is that Gaddafi managed to get out of Tripoli and into Sirte, where old tribal loyalties could make it an implacable outpost of pro-regime militancy.

[Gaddafi has overwhelming support in Sirte]

Much of the rebel’s ability to keep the population onside will depend on how quickly they can get much-needed utilities online – a complete reversal of their campaign strategy, which tried to cut the capital off from the rest of the country.

[NATO isn’t very popular since they have deprived the people of electricity, food, communications and security]

The prospect of a quick turnaround was significantly complicated when South Africa stalled US efforts to unfreeze $1.5 billion (£610 million) of Libyan assets through the UN security council on the basis that it still had not formally recognised the National Transitional Council (NTC).

[International law is still a bit of a problem- NATO will just have to keep overriding it]

“It’s very clear what side the Libyan government is on and I think that’s what the South African government should respond to,” Mr Fox said angrily this morning.

[The Libyan government is on the side of Libya and Africa as a whole: so is the South African government]

Diplomatically, things continued to move in the rebels’ direction, however.

[NATO are still twisting arms]

Across the world, a wave of Libyan embassies switched sides, replacing the green Gaddafi flag with the tricolour used by the rebels.

Meanwhile, two senior members of the Gaddafi government switched to the rebel side.

Deputy director of foreign security in the Libyan intelligence service, General Khalifah Mohammed Ali, and health minister Mohammed Hijazi declared their new allegiance on al-Arabiya TV.

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