Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Libya - Rebels Lose Last Stronghold East Of Benghazi


Forces loyal to Moamar Khaddaffi backed by tanks and APC's pushed rebels out of Ajdabiya in a surprise attack from two sides today.Ajdabiya is the gateway to Benghazi, the rebel capitol.

The rebels suffered an additional blow after Gadhafi forces took back Zwara, a seaside town about 30 miles from the Tunisian border. This essentially means that the war in the west is over, and Benghazi remains the only substantial rebel holding left in the country except Misrata, Libya's third largest city which is blockaded and under siege.

Khaddafi told the Italian newspaper Il Giornale that he expects victory, and that the rebels' options are closing. "There are only two possibilities: Surrender or run away."

He said he was not like the Tunisian or Egyptian leaders, who fell after anti-government protests. "I'm very different from them," he said. "People are on my side and give me strength."

An unnamed source who is a loyalist officer in Khaddaffi's army was quoted as saying that the government plan to retake Benghazi doesn't involve attacking the city itself. He says the government will try to convince the residents of Benghazi to force the rebels out of the city and into the open desert.

"The idea is to surround Benghazi but to leave one exit open for the rebels," he said.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe admitted in a radio interview that the rebellion in Libya is pretty much history. A final resolution after a two-day meeting in Paris of G-8 foreign ministers warned of "dire consequences" if Khaddaffi continued to attack his own people, but suggested no real action and conveniently kicked the ball over to the U.N. Security Council to make any decisions.
"If we had used military force last week to neutralize some airstrips and the several dozen planes that they have, perhaps the reversal taking place to the detriment of the opposition wouldn't have happened," Juppe told Europe-1 radio. "But that's the past."

Indeed it is.

Benghazi is going to be a bloodbath, even if the rebels do get forced out of the city into the desert. Khaddaffi is not exactly known for qualities like mercy or forgiveness.

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