Libyan Rebel Forces Rapidly Losing Ground To Gaddafi
Libya’s revolution is facing collapse as Muammar Gaddafi’s forces break through the last major line of resistance before Benghazi, the heart of the uprising and the seat of the rebel administration.
Benghazi, Seat Of Rebel Administration, Is Threatened
The key Libyan city of Ajdabiya, the last major point between pro-government forces and the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, was slipping from the opposition’s hands Tuesday, witnesses reported.
Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fired artillery into Ajdabiya, and there were eyewitness reports of at least two airstrikes on the city. If Ajdabiya is retaken by pro-Gadhafi forces, it would give access to roads leading to the heart of the opposition’s base.
Opposition fighters in Ajdabiya returned fire with anti-aircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, but eventually had to pull back their defense positions. Gadhafi’s forces approached the city from the south and the west, witnesses said.
Libyan state television reported Tuesday evening that “Ajdabiya has been cleansed from mercenaries and terrorists connected to al Qaeda.”
Predictions Of A Bloodbath In Benghazi
Without implementation of a no-fly zone, rebels fear that it is only a matter of time before there is a bloodbath in Benghazi.
Lebanon’s U.N. representative distributed a draft resolution Tuesday calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone on Libya to members of the U.N. Security Council. The council is scheduled to take up the matter Wednesday morning.
The Battle Is Lost
The Guardian reports:
Meanwhile, pro-Gadhafi forces wrested control of the town of Zuwara from rebels, an opposition spokesman and a witness said. Pro-Gadhafi forces with tanks and heavy artillery forcibly entered Zuwara on Monday, clashing with rebels for several hours before subduing the town, the sources said.
“The battle is lost. Gaddafi is throwing everything against us,” a rebel officer who gave his name as General Suleiman told Reuters.
The revolutionary leadership promised a fight to the death but some Benghazi residents were fleeing to the Egyptian border last night amid considerable bitterness at the failure of western countries to back up vocal support for the rebels with practical help, including a no-fly zone and military equipment to fight Gaddafi’s better armed forces, some of them trained by the British army.
“They have betrayed us,” said Ahmed Malen, one of the revolutionary volunteers pasting anti-Gaddafi posters on walls in Benghazi. “If they kill us all, the west will have blood on its hands. They do not believe in freedom. They are cowards.”
UN Resolution – But Is It Too Late?
The regime’s strategy to defeat the rebellion before international support for the uprising could be galvanised seemed to be paying off as the US finally joined British and French support for a draft UN resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. A vote on a draft motion is expected later this week or early next week, which is likely to be too late for the rebels.
A UN diplomat has said the plan is to circulate a draft resolution on Libya to Security Council members on Tuesday afternoon.
The BBC’s Barbara Plett says it is expected to be in two parts, according to the diplomat.
The first will lay out what the Arab League wants in a no-fly zone and be presented by Lebanon, while the second will present tougher measures wanted by the international community, such as tightening sanctions and action against mercenaries, the diplomat said.
This places the onus for the no-fly zone on the Arabs, apparently as a way to overcome divisions on the issue in the council, and as a way to make such a zone not look like an imposition from the west.
But the French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, suggested in a radio interview that events on the ground in Libya have already outpaced diplomatic efforts.
China Blocking Action; U.S. Has Yet To Define Its Position
Mr Juppe also said that China, a veto-wielding member, is blocking UN Security Council action on Libya while the US has yet to define its position.
Meanwhile, the death toll keeps rising in Libya, and the forces trying to fight Gaddafi are losing hope that any international help will materialize.
Where Does All That Money And Equipment Come From?
An inquiry into how Gaddafi accrued so much money, and where his forces got their training and equipment, seems to be in order, at the very least.
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