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01 March 2011

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Fred

Does the US still recognize Qaddhafi's government as the legitimate government of Libya? If not when did they revoke that recognition. Is there any type of provisional government amongst those in revolt that could be recognized?

dh

Are we sure the Red Green Black flag guys want help from outside? My sense is that they want to keep it homegrown.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. "Unable to match the force of the rich and powerful dictator in Tripoli, the Feb. 17 committee members governing this eastern city in the absence of a state said they were preparing to ask for foreign air strikes against Gaddafi's military installations, air bases and other key infrastructure or the standoff may never end.

"We want logistical foreign intervention, air embargos, bombardments of air bases, communication centers and supervision of the coasts," said Muftah Queidir, a lawyer close to the coalition who's 26-year-old son was shot on Feb. 19 by Gaddafi's forces."
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post/2011/03/yemen_day_of_rage_and_standoff.html#Benghazi-demoralized

2. AP reports:

"TRIPOLI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi's forces battled poorly armed rebels Tuesday for control of towns near the capital trying to create a buffer zone around his seat of power. The increasingly violent clashes threatened to transform the 15-day popular rebellion in Libya into a drawn-out civil war...
Gadhafi's regime has retaken at least two towns and threatened a third, while rebels repulsed attacks on three other key areas — Misrata to the east, Zawiya to the west, and the mountain town of Zintan to the south of the capital.

One of those retaken was the strategic mountain town of Gharyan, the largest in the Nafusa Mountains, which overlooks Tripoli, a resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation. The town fell after dark Friday in a surprise attack, and the government troops detained officers who defected to the rebels and drew up lists of wanted protesters and started searching for them, the resident added.

Gadhafi supporters also have said they were in control of the city of Sabratha, west of Tripoli, which has seemed to go back and forth between the two camps in the past week.

But witnesses in Zawiya, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of the capital, said rebels shouted "Allahu akbar (God is great) for our victory," and carried an air force colonel who had just defected after six hours of overnight gunbattles failed to dislodge anti-Gadhafi forces who control the city.

"We were worried about air raids but that did not happen," said one resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The Zawiya rebels have tanks, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. They beat back pro-Gadhafi troops, armed with the same weapons, who attacked from six directions. There was no word on casualties.

In Misrata, 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli, pro-Gadhafi troops who control part of an air base on the city's outskirts tried to advance Monday. But they were repulsed by opposition forces, who included residents with automatic weapons and defected army units allied with them, one of the opposition fighters said.

No casualties were reported and the fighter claimed that his side had captured eight soldiers, including a senior officer.

The opposition controls most of the air base, and the fighter said dozens of anti-Gadhafi gunmen have arrived from farther east in recent days as reinforcements.

In Zintan, 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Tripoli, residents said an attack by pro-Gadhafi forces Monday night was the second since the city fell in rebel hands late last month. But, they added, Gadhafi's loyalists were bringing in reinforcements.

One person in Zwara, which fell to anti-government forces days ago, said guards were posted at every sensitive building and all the entrances to the town."
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/7451810.html

arbogast

Can Qaddafi be threatened with assassination by special forces/cruise missile/etc.?

I think he would respond to a credible death threat. I think he is in love with his own skin.

I was under the impression that Saddam Hussein, during Gulf War I, was threatened with assassination when he said he was going to kill his hostages.

I realize this is probably a silly question, born of ignorance (definitely born of ignorance), but one grasps at straws in a bad situation.

walrus

I think I know exactly what the U.S. Government's strategy is at the moment, but perhaps I'm just cynical.

I suspect that Israel has convinced Obama that it is in the interests of the United States that the revolutionary momentum built up by young Arabs after the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions needs to be blunted in the interests of preserving the Governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Algeria. A long and preferably bloody contest in Libya would provide a check on Middle Eastern democratic aspirations.

I suspect that the beltway insiders are counselling a "nuanced" response to the Libya crisis in the interests of "regional stability" lest Islamists and revolutionary elements elsewhere become "emboldened".

In other words, let them fight it out and exhaust each other, a bit like the Russians hanging back during the Warsaw uprising, not that we would want to invade anyway. However having Libya become a basket case dependent on our good graces for humanitarian assistance and rebuilding would most likely suit Israel and ourselves for a few years.

But what would I know? Maybe I'm just too cynical.

Patrick Lang

walrus

Yes. You are too cynical. They are just screwed up. pl

bth

Col. was the US always this slow witted or is it a recent phenomenon? Could you compare it, based on your experience, to Reagan, Bush I and Clinton eras which each had unexpected challenges and opportunities in Central America and Eastern Europe.

I mean with instant communications today, it could be that we're just expecting our government to react quicker than it can or always has. On the other hand, we could just suck something awful with CIA not knowing how to pick up a satellite phone and call a disaffected Libyan colonel or the DOD so ossified that it can't react to unexpected changes. One could hardly ask for a better opportunity for the CIA to make the world a better place by ridding us of this thug especially with his population in rebellion.

Patrick Lang

arbogast

From personal experience I tell you that it is VERY difficult to "get" one man as a target. We tried over and over again with Saddam. He never used the telephone. he moved all the time. He was not frightened. That is just propaganda.

Forget the "whjere Eagles Dare" stuff. That is just the movies.pl

Patrick Lang

bth

Democracies are not good at quick reactions but this lot seem exceptionally thick. pl

Patrick Lang

dh
Are you sure they don't want help? I just listened to a man in Zawiyah say that they want UN troops in there and that those that say they don't are "outside, somewhere drinking beer." pl

dh

I'm not sure about anything. Nick Robertson was just on CNN saying it's a fragile tribal society and outside help would fragment the opposition.

Clifford Kiracofe

"Anti-regime leaders in Benghazi said Tuesday they have formed a military council in the eastern Libyan city which has become the hub of efforts to topple Moammar Gaddafi.


The council, comprising officers who joined protesters against Gaddafi's rule, will liaise with similar groups in other freed cities in the east but it was not immediately clear if there were plans for a regional command.


"A military council was formed last night," said Salwa Bughaighi, a member of a coalition of organisers who earlier this week set up a civilian council to run the city's municipal affairs.


She said the list of members of the military committee had not yet been finalised but it did not include General Abdel Fatah Yunis, a former interior minister who sided with protesters in Benghazi.


The former minister gained respect among any protesters after he defected to their side during the fighting in Benghazi.


The council would liaise with similar organisations in other freed cities in the east, Bughaighi said.
Fathi Terbeel, a prominent lawyer who is also a member of the coalition, said there were still disputes over the membership of the council and added it was still unclear when a regional command would be established.


"There are still reservations over the names. The people are favouring officers who joined the revolution from the start and did not hesitate," he said."
http://english.ahram.org.eg/~/NewsContent/2/8/6744/World/Region/Rebels-form-military-council-in-Libyas-Benghazi.aspx

Patrick Lang

dh

Look, I'm for the rebels. What we should do is put in a few dozen Green Berets in civilian clothes to help the rebels organize themselves to take Tripoli. I would agree that a regular US troop presence on the ground would be counter-productive. Remember the SF guys on horses who worked with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan at the beginning? That is the model. pl

dh

Sounds like any rebel will do. Must be your American revolutionary spirit :). Tell me who 'the rebels' are and what they want and I might be more enthusiastic.

Patrick Lang

dh

If you want an answer to that you have to tell me who you are. pl

Arun

US made sure that there were no American hostages to be had before putting any heat on Qaddafi - smart move, IMO.

dh

Phew now you're asking. Confused childhood, divorced parents, much moving around the world. I've had identity problems all my life and I'm still working on it. Is this the place for this?

Patrick Lang

DH

Why not? Except for the divorce (Catholic)You sound like me. A candidate for SF. pl

Grumpy

'Nam, Part 2

dh

Gee you sound like such a solid reliable guy. Not like me at all. It's what keeps me coming back.

M Hoppe

This might be a dumb idea/question, but I will throw it out there anyways. Would it be possible/plausible for the UN or international community to recognize the bigger coastal cities as now defacto independent political entities, literally 21 century city-states? Would recognition help to legitimize humanitarian aid/weapons tranfers/training and maybe leading to a temporary Lybian confederacy before/if/when/ Tripoli falls?

William R. Cumming

Let's go back for a moment before going forwards. Remember discussion of the NIE given President Obama last August about the stability etc and issues in Arabia and Mahgreb? Do NIE just give a posture of current events and what is known? Sort of like a profit and loss statement at one point in time. No analysis of cash flow?

Is there significance that someone or some group felt there were below the surface tremors so that an NIE was appropriate? So what conclusions were drawn? Well one obviously was to stand pat and do as little as possible to accelerate the geriatric leadership of the totality of N. Africa whether a military dictatorship or a Royal Family. That conclusion is clearly now in the trash forever because like it or not this region is fundamentally changed forever whether Kings or dictators hold on for some time. And it still seems that the US has not laid out whether the petrocracies are what the US wants or some change? I would among other things have ordered the Strategic Petroleum Reserve up for rapid deployment. I would have moved two carrier battle groups into the MED. And finally I would have ordered an about face or any US forces within reach of N. Africa that are faced elsewhere. Why this level of activity? Well perhaps bluff perhaps necessity. It is pretty clear to me that the EU does NOT have the force projection capability to deal with this enormous region and its strategic interests in its petroleum. We may not like it but the US is not independent of the EU in any real sense given trade and other ties. But if a vacuum in finance, resources availabilt and other things occur that adversely impact the EU then all the backdoor effort of the US FED to stabilize EU banks will be wasted and that effort which is still not revealed publically in its enormity will permanently damage the US fincial outlook for the rest of this century and leave an opening for the Chinese to manipulate and dominate the Eurasian landscape for the rest of the century. N.AFRICA was essentially a colonial captive of the EU masquerading as something else and if the EU cupboard is bare so is the US. So a rapid Pax Americana that tolerates reform but insists that current economic ties be maintained is absolutely necessary or this whole protest/insurgency/rebellion/revolution etc whatever it is is going to totally disrupt a EU already stressing over recent events and demographics. In other words a real STRATEGY by the US is needed but looks like none apparent at the moment. I already conclude that events are in the saddle and the outcome could be an event in which ALL lose not in which some gain and some lose-in other words it may not be a zero sum game but something far worse. A doornail used to close the door on Western prosperity for a long long time unless something happens to prevent this playing out in very strange ways. But if the conclusion is that any nation-state even the US can control events now I believe that is totally incorrect. We are all riding the tiger not just the kings and dictators. wondering if this comment is even coherent?

charlie

If the US was able to seize $30 billion in assets, and the UK also seize large amount, perhaps he wasn't that canny about where he stashed his money.

None of that means he can't pay his peeps.

jonst

Col, you cannot (or, rather, you should not)divorce your analysis of what SHOULD be done....from the entity that would, in theory, carry out what "should" be done. If the latter is corrupt, and incompetent, (and it is) than so to will be the any operation said entity carries out.

You cannot separate your well earned contempt from its practical implications.

We're boned Col....the leadership is corrupt and incompetent. They are as far from noble as is possible to be.

IOW Col, it is too late...the nobles are condemned to sit around and watch the corrupt and incompetent run the show.

I will dance an Irish jig of joy if I am wrong.

jr786

The rebels seem to have plenty of fight in them, but lack weapons and training. Faced with trained opposition, a mercenary might decide he's made enough money and look to get out while he can.

I don't see any possibility of Qadhaafi winning, where winning means everything going back to normal. Fence sitters have to be thinking that however protracted the fight there will only one loser, which might spur more and more defections.

He's been in power for 40 years. The Libyans have had as sabur ayub. They just need a bit more. Get organized, let organic leadership structures develop and come to the fore.

It would be a great help to us if we can get people in there to train and lead small units. When the great man is removed, they will be the ones to come to power. Would be nice to have some friendly to America.

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