The Gaddafi regime has issued a defiant warning that the “time for action” has arrived as a sustained military assault forced the defeat of Libyan rebels in the strategically important town of Zawiya and their retreat from Ras Lanuf.
EU And Nato Leaders Disagree About What To Do
While leaders of the European Union and NATO squabble about what to do in Libya, on the eve of an emergency European summit on Libya in Brussels, Muammar Gaddafi’s son said that a new offensive will be launched within days.
From The Guardian:
“It’s time for liberation. It’s time for action,” Saif al-Islam told Reuters after the defeat of opposition forces in the town of Zawiya, 30 miles from Tripoli, and the rout of rebels in the town of Ras Lanuf. He added: “We are moving now.”
The tough rhetoric from the Gaddafi regime – and its apparent success on the ground against the rebels – set the scene for a difficult emergency EU summit where leaders are expected to clash on the military and diplomatic response to the gravest crisis on their doorstep since the collapse of Yugoslavia.
Fears among Libyan opposition groups that they will be defeated by the time Europe and the US agree on a course of action were heightened when:
• Nato was left paralysed as the US joined Germany in blocking the imposition of a no-fly zone supported by Britain and France. Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said at a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels that contingency planning for a no-fly zone would continue, before adding “that’s the extent of it”.
Gaddafi’s son said the renewed offensive, which has been building for several weeks, would be launched following the refusal of rebels to negotiate or lay down arms. “Time is out now. It’s time for action … we gave them two weeks [for negotiations],” Saif al-Islam said in a speech to supporters.
Rebel Leaders Want Nothing Less Than Gaddafi’s Overthrow
The Libyan leader’s son was referring to offers of a “national dialogue,” approaches to tribal leaders and an offer of an amnesty made by his father last week. Rebel leaders in the east said they would accept nothing but Gaddafi’s overthrow.
Vowing that the rebels would be defeated, Saif said: “We will never ever give up. We will never ever surrender. This is our country. We fight here in Libya.”
Gaddafi Has “Tens Of Billions” In Cash
All this can happen because, according to The New York Times,
Colonel Muammar el-Gaddafi has “tens of billions” in cash secretly hidden away in Tripoli, allowing him to prolong his fight against rebel forces despite an international freeze on many of the Libyan government’s assets, according to American and other intelligence officials.
Colonel Gaddafi has control over the huge cash deposits, which have been stored at the Libyan Central Bank and other banks around the Libyan capital in recent years, the officials said.
The huge cash reserves have, at least temporarily, diminished the impact of economic sanctions on Colonel Gaddafi and his government. The possibility that he could resist the rebellion in his country for a sustained period could place greater pressure for action on the Obama administration and European leaders, who had hoped that the Libyan leader would be forced from power quickly.
So the question is, how long can those rebel leaders stay strong in the face of Gaddafi’s armored response?
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