As Colonel Lang said, the Libyan insurgency is prospering. The recent conquest of Az Zawiyah and Gharyan have put Tripoli and Qathafi's forces in a logistical stranglehold. There are now reports of armed uprisings in Tripoli itself. The NTC in Benghazi have issued statements that "Zero hour has started. The rebels in Tripoli have risen up." Apparently this is the beginning of Operation Mermaid, the liberation of Tripoli. It may happen in a few days. It may happen in a few weeks. But it will happen.
The military success of the mostly Berber rebel groups from the Nafusa Mountains have been remarkable. They have managed to raise, equip, train, lead and employ an effective, albeit still rag tag, army to the brink of victory. Perhaps the largely rural, pastoral nature of these hill people provided a more suitable pool of recruits than the coastal urban areas. However, the exploits of the boyos from Misrata offer an effective counterpoint to this argument. What was common to both fronts was that the terrain was more suitable to guerilla operations than the area from Benghazi to Sirte. And the rebels in both the Nafusa Mountains and Misrata knew their operational areas like the back of their hands.
The drive to Az Zawiyah was a brilliant move… a check if not a checkmate move. The recent incorporation of Az Zawiyah resistance fighters into the Nafusa army not only strengthened the rebel army, but provided critical local intelligence for the assault on that city. The NTC decision to move a force composed of rebels from the Tripoli area from the eastern front to the Nafusa front will undoubtedly prove to be just as key during the final battles.
I only wish that we had inserted the ODAs into Misrata and Az Zawiyah back in March. It would have saved a lot of Libyan lives and ended this revolution a lot sooner. In the months to come, it will be interesting to learn if the rebels received any type of on the ground assistance. The NATO air campaign was clearly a great help at a critical time. It gave the rebels some breathing room and helped to level the "playing field."
What will happen after the final military victory? Unlike the other revolutions of the Arab Spring, the rebels will be left with a clean slate. What kind of leaders will step forward? What will the Berbers gain from the final victory? Whatever happens will be up to the Libyan people. The leaders of a future Libya must remember that whatever they create must be worthy of the great sacrifices of a heroic band of brothers that won this opportunity at a great cost.