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27 February 2011

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walrus

Col. Lang, I suspect you are sadly right.

William R. Cumming

PL! I am in complete agreement. Seizing a defended city of 2M is not an easy task for any opposition.

The Twisted Genius

I fear the same. This could be a civil war with the intensity and duration of Lebanon. The conditions and reasons are dissimilar, but the ugliness of war will be the same. I still advocate US strikes on mercenaries and other armed pro-Qathafi forces. Right now it looks like a brave, but largely unarmed, uprising against a well armed and ruthless tyrant. Spirit alone will not carry the day.

mac

Agreed.

Charles I

They'll fight to the death.

I can't stand it, let's have 4-5 drones, s/n's filed off. Shut down tv next time he's on. Blow their compound, any easy targets like tanks, mercenary infrastructure, target MQ & sons.

R Whitman

Who has control of the oilfields and the tanker loading facilities??

Lysander

I do not believe Qaththafi can survive another month. That said, a month can be very long time if you're living and dying in Tripoli.

US military intervention (there wont be any other kind) is unpredictable. Recent experience is not reassuring.

Overall, I consider myself a serious critic of US foreign policy. But here is the one area where, so far at least, it is hard to find fault. The US did not put MQ in power. It opposed him for most of his reign. It tolerated him for the last 5 years, but so did everyone else.

It is difficult to know who is pro or anti MQ. Invariably, the wrong people will be killed, and the best intentions of the killer will be a weak excuse.

Non-interventionism can be painful especially when you feel you can do some good. The non-interventionists will be derided as a bunch of do nothings. But I prefer to think of it as "first, do no harm."

different clue

The UN will certainly try to enforce famine-sanctions against the civilian population of Tripoli. The UN will also write and enforce any arms embargo sanctions in such a way as to deny arms to the rebels while hands-off letting the Quadaffists keep all the arms they have or can bring in across the southern border.

arbogast

The difference with Lebanon is oil. Shutting down Libyan oil for an extended period of time is "put up or shut up" for Saudi Arabia.

I do not think that will be permitted to happen... either because Saudi Arabia does not have the oil (which I believe is the case) or they really want to conserve it and their power as long as possible.

This will end quickly. Someone will make MQ an offer he can't refuse. Perhaps Berlusconi will be the messenger.

schwifty

Colonel,

if your scenario holds and the UNSC decides that it will do more than run out the clock:

Putting peacekeepers in would necessarily end up as a siege of Tripoli. Any activies that are going on to fortify the city now would accelerate with a UN authorization. Tripoli would bunker up, and peacekeepers would end up with a de facto cordon around it.

As you indicated, a prolonged isolation of the city would be incompatible with the intervention's humanitarian purpose. Starve two million Libyans to save them? Feed them and him indefinitely?

The city could be entered and its hostake-takers put down, but could even the most combat-experienced forces assault the city without there being a civilian bloodbath and a negation of the intervention's strategic purpose?

Could there conceivably be in this scenario a U.N. authorization or even secret policy to assassinate him, e.g. target him like Zarqawi? Given such a siege, would we even take such a tactical risk? Interdiction of his mercenaries, enabled by a no-fly zone and the surveillance opportunities that that affords?

It is difficult for me to imagine escalating an intervention effectively past a no-fly zone. If he really has a grip on Tripoli, then it seems to me that Tripoli will have to kick him out itself or he will have to strike a deal. I can't see sending ground forces being useful in either case.

Is there a window of opportunity open for any of this now, while the situation is somewhat fresh? Is that window closing?

Marcello

Frankly given the record of "success stories" in Iraq, Kosovo etc. it is a lot better if we stay out of it.
Freezing Qaththafi's foreign assets, OK. Actually start blowing up people and stuff in Libya, not such a great idea.

markfromireland

Sadly I have to agree with you.

WILL

Qa-tha-fee, gone by the Ides of March

Grumpy

Sadly, I must agree with you and I don't think there are any magic bullet answers. If I might, just a couple questions. As I look back I see two types of war, wars of engagement and wars of attrition. Wars of engagement is very much like what most people think of the war, It is out in the open. But wars of attrition on more subtle or more nuanced and they take for ever to win, if ever. When ever I think of this group, I think of 'Nam or Lebanon. The other problem is what happens next? Have we just created a slot for a new dictator?

THANK YOU, for your thoughts and expertise.

Paul Escobar

Lysander said: "Non-interventionism can be painful especially when you feel you can do some good."

Exactly. This is what makes it such a mature proposition.

The principle means nothing if it allows exceptions based on the volume of foreign blood shed.

Clifford Kiracofe

The Drag Queen apparently controls the bases in the south-SW at Sabha and Ghat. Apparently also Ghadarmis.

These are used to ferry in external mercenary forces. Blacks from Chad and Niger have been noted; also Nigeria, Guinea, and Sudan. Whites from Serbia and Ukraine have been implicated as mercenaries.

Reports are very sketchy and tentative but it does seem the opposition has some control in the east. Also, for the moment, some towns to the east and west of Tripoli. So apparently the main oil fields and facilities are in opposition hands in the east and are being guarded.

There is now a national grouping of Free Ulema, which includes notables, from various tribes who support the opposition.

It is deplorable that the US has not immediately sought to get humanitarian aid, to include medicines and medical supplies, to Libya. Also, why are we not giving an assist at the Tunisia and Egypt border zones with the refugee issues there? The Euros are there already in Tunisia, why aren't we? We do have disaster assisatance via AID after all.
http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/humanitarian_assistance/disaster_assistance/

The lack of timely US humanitarian assistance is a disgrace. I take it the port of Benghazi is open.

If any American citizens are murdered by Q's forces, that is reason enough for direct intervention and reprisal.

Grumpy

To: Paul Escobar, you made a reply to Lysander's comment, “Non-interventionism can be painful especially when you feel you can do some good.” I can look at this and go in all directions, but may be very wrong. Rather than do that, let me just ask you, exactly what do you mean? We do not know how long Qadhafi will stay in power or even alive. I would suggest that we all need to consider the comment and it's impact on our personal lives. In the last sentence, you suggest that “volume of foreign blood shed” has no place in the equation. I think you might have a different view if it was your blood, is always in the equation.

To Clifford Kiracofe, you write, “The Drag Queen”, now I know things had changed, big-time. Yes, I did read the whole comment with the link.

To both of you, have a great week.

The Twisted Genius

It seems that the free Libyan forces are confident in their ability to take Tripoli on their own and have declined outside intervention. If this is the case, we should definitely keep our forces out. Non-intervention will probably turn out to be the better approach rather than my wild-eyed call for storming the barricades.

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/02/27/139495.html

I saw footage tonight that showed one of the military airfields near Tripoli in rebel hands. The noose (perhaps literally) appears to be tightening.

kao_hsien_chih

Even if the local Libyan rebel forces bring down MQ, what's next? While I can no claim expertise, I kept wondering about the aftermath of the fall of Siad Barre, or worse, Najibullah. While the dictator lives, literally or figuratively, the anti-regime forces can remain at least cooperative. If he goes, can Libya stay in one piece? This possibility seems to make intervention by somebody somehow very likely, but only under highly adverse conditions for everyone nearby.

Kunuri

Oh yes, there will be a battle of Tripoli, neither Qathafi will leave, nor the rebels stop at the shores of Tripoli. The revolutionaries will take a few hits in the beginning, but every passing day they will get better orginized, learn, armed and adopt to root out the government forces.

In the end, it will come down to the metal of the soldier on the ground, those who are willing to die for a new and free Libya vs. those who are willing to die for the survival of a mad man.

And on the matter of mercenaries, it is a double-edged sword, their loyalty can be bought out easily, just as they can turn on their masters easily. A blanket amnesty to any defender would go a long ways towards overcoming any pockets of resistance.

The civilian population of Tripoli will be a force multiplier for the rebels, armor airpower and heavy artillery is of little use in a dense city. So it comes down to swarms of citizen soldiers cleaning streets block by block. Hues of Hue? Advantage rebels, all the way to the central barracks area. There, a siege can be maintained indefinetely, Qathafi can live out his golden years in his tent, only worried about how to pay his mercenaries and avoid being knocked off by another colonel who may not be too keen on being a martyr.

Clifford Kiracofe

The French announced they are sending two aircraft with humanitarian supplies to Benghazi today. While the civilian airport in Banghazi is said to be inoperable at this time, there is a military air base now reported under free Libyan control.

Internal political division among various players seems to have prevented the formation of a provisional government in Benghazi. Some players may reason that a provisional government should be announced after the fall of Tripoli. This delay may not be prudent. For foreign governments, there is yet no alternative free Libyan provisional government to recognize and to work with.

Why no US humanitarian aid such as medical supplies to Benghazi? The Obama Administration gives the impression of fumbling on this.

Clifford Kiracofe

"BERLIN – British and German military planes swooped into Libya's desert, rescuing hundreds of oil workers and civilians stranded at remote sites, as thousands of other foreigners are still stuck in Tripoli by bad weather and red tape.

The secret military missions into the turbulent North Africa country signal the readiness of Western nations to disregard Libya's territorial integrity when it comes to the safety of their citizens.

Three British Royal Air Force planes plucked 150 stranded civilians from multiple locations in the eastern Libyan desert before flying them to Malta on Sunday, the British Defense Ministry said in a statement. One of the RAF Hercules aircraft appeared to have suffered minor damage from small arms fire, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said.

The rescue follows a similar secret commando raid Saturday by British Special Forces that got another 150 oil workers from the remote Libyan desert.

Separately, Germany said its air force had evacuated 132 people also from the desert during a secret military mission on Saturday.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Sunday that two German military planes landed on a private runway belonging to the Wintershall AG company, evacuating 22 Germans and 112 others and flying them to the Greek island of Crete.

Another 18 German citizens were rescued by the British military in a separate military operation Saturday that targeted remote oil installations in the Libyan desert, Westerwelle said. He said around 100 other German citizens are still in Libya and the government was trying to get them out as quickly as possible."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110227/ap_on_re_us/libya_evacuations

William R. Cumming

Okay betting on the future! I believe QM cannot be removed without internation assistance to the insurgents! Why? He [MQ] and adherents have almost nothing to lose since both majority of territory and oil fields within insurgent territory and MQ knows well the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents. Time will tell. My conclusion unfortunately rests on the fact that modern dictators know how to retain control over some portion of their population and territory until the very end unless they are the kind who cut and run early. MQ is not.
By the way are the rumors that the military will not let Mubarack leave Egypt accurate but that he still has adherents and now the current situation looks like the Egyptian military has won its better that a simple change in leadership will allow status quo ante to continue? What exactly has the US promised the military in Egypt and why are all critical negotiations there be left to the US military to military contacts? How and who is the US relating to the reformers?

jr786

I don't know. The Libyans seem to have real courage - I'm basing my take on what I see on the Arab satellite channels. A lot of them have served in the military, it seems, and are more than willing to take the fight to the gangsters surrounding the 'bleeder'.

A no-fly zone and surveillance of exit points, with clear understanding that we'll prevent the exit of any foreign/mercenary forces, might encourage them to abandon the great man and loot his palaces while they still can. Insh'all-h.

Let's give them the weapons to fight - they seem more than willing to do so.

So why no uprising in Palestine? There's a question.

Lysander

This from Al Jazeera's live blg on Libya:

"Moammar Gaddafi no longer controls the majority of his country's oil and gas installations, according to the European Union's energy commissioner.

Gunter Oettinger, speaking after a regular meeting of EU energy minister, said:

There is reason to believe that the majority of the oil and gas fields are
no longer under Gaddafi's control.""

MQ probably has plenty of cash on hand, but running a mercenary army (Mercs don't fight for 500$ a month) is not cheap. He will also have to bribe his regular army to prevent desertion/defection. Without a constant source of revenue, MQ will run out of money eventually. The people around him know this. Many of them will not wait till the very last dollar.

He is finished. The international community can send food and medicine if it wishes, but other than that, it can't do anything better than the Libyans themselves can do it.

For those angry at the bloodshed, I fully understand. But when was there a military intervention without bloodshed?

And make no mistake, the rebels fighting MQ will turn on foreign troops if they overstay their very short welcome by even a single day.

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