Libya: Final Countdown

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June 29, 2011: Given the rate at which rebels are pushing back Kaddafi troops, and the effects of the air and sea blockade of Kaddafi controlled western Libya, Kaddafi is not expected to last more than three months. Kaddafi now has a goal. If he can hang on into October, the coalition fighting him might fall apart, enabling some kind of peace deal that would partition the country. But with the embargo and war crimes indictments, that is unlikely. Kaddafi is a fugitive in his own capital, constantly moving to avoid NATO bomb attacks. U.S. and NATO intelligence, using rebel sympathizers, is constantly updating their map of who is where in Tripoli. While military targets have priority, a suspected Kaddafi sighting will always get at least one smart bomb. NATO military planners keep score of Kaddafi's military strength (which is kept secret, lest it provide useful information to Kaddafi military or intelligence forces), and the trend has been down, more sharply of late. That, plus the difficulty supplying millions of civilians under his control, is why NATO believes Kaddafi won't last another hundred days. It's been about a hundred days since NATO began its military operations in Libya. Meanwhile, the rebels have gotten better on the battlefield, and behind the lines. The rebel coalition is holding together, and each day, rebel fighters gain more combat experience, and more of them come out of NATO training programs. Some NATO troops are on the ground in rebel-held Libya, to conduct training or assist with coordinating the bombing.

The number of Libyan refugees in Tunisian refugee camps is now over 22,000. The number coming across the border has declined as local rebels push Kaddafi troops away from the border.

The rebels have a big advantage with NATO airpower. This means several hundred smart bombs or missiles are available each day, to hit Kaddafi forces. This has been going on for over three months, and the pro-Kaddafi fighters and mercenaries will often retreat rather than face the deadly accuracy of the NATO bombs. Kaddafi has handed out over a million weapons (rifles, pistols, machine-guns, mortars and RPGs) to followers in western Libya. Some of those people have switched sides, but there are still many who support Kaddafi (for tribal or economic reasons). In urban areas, these gunmen can leave one neighborhood, to evade NATO bombs, and show up in another within hours. Thus the seemingly endless fighting in western towns like Misarata and Zawiya. It will be the same once the rebels enter Tripoli, the biggest city in the country.

June 28, 2011: Rebels advanced out of the western mountains onto the plains near the Algerian and Tunisian borders, southwest of Tripoli, and captured a major military base at Ghaaa. This was where Kaddafi stored much of the munitions he had bought over the last four decades. Most of this stuff was too old to safely use. The base had been bombed by NATO aircraft, but the munitions are stored in concrete bunkers, thus limiting the spread of fires and explosions. Lots of useful munitions, and some weapons, were still available. The rebels also captured nearly a hundred vehicles with which to haul the stuff away. There were only about a hundred Kaddafi troops guarding the base, and they fled to another base when the rebels attacked at night. Nearby Kaddafi bases reorganized their nighttime security, and defeated similar rebel attacks.

NATO announced that it would not execute the arrest warrant the ICC (International Criminal Court) had issued for Moamar Kaddafi. The NATO UN mandate is to protect civilians from Kaddafi's killers, but their unofficial goal is to kill Kaddafi and force his followers to stop fighting.

June 27, 2011: The ICC issued arrest warrants for Moamar Kaddafi, his son (Saif al Islam Kaddafi, who has acted as chief-of-staff over the last few months) and intelligence chief Abdullah al Senussi, for war crimes. This makes it difficult to end the fighting by offering Kaddafi safe passage to exile (Venezuela and North Korea might accept him, but getting there could be a problem). While the ICC has arrested, and even tried, some people in its eight years of existence, it has never actually convicted anyone.

June 25, 2011: In a major morale boost for the rebels, 17 football (soccer) stars denounced Kaddafi and joined the rebels. This included four members of the national team. Football is a big deal in Libya, and the best players now back the rebels. Kaddafi had long lavished money and other goodies on the star football players, which is why these guys stood by the dictator for so long.

 

 

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