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Fighting Heats Up In Libya, Picture Still Unclear

Posted by on March 17, 2011 0 Comment

It is being widely reported and assumed that Muammar GaddafiMuammar Gaddafi’s forces have launched an unstoppable advance on rebel-held east Libya. And there is no doubt the regime has dislodged insurgents from some area.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moonBan Ki-moon fears that what is really happening is the area is on the verge of a full-scale and likely drawn out civil war. Libyan warplanes dropped some bombs on Benghazi, the capital of the insurgent transitional government.

NATO has adequate forces in the region to impose a cease fire, especially around a sea port such as Benghazi, but appeared unlikely to take any action.

President Obama was being criticized for once again failing to lead. “Presidents do not get elected to make easy decisions, and they certainly never become great doing so. They do not get credit just because they go along with what the diplomatic and military establishments tell them are the “wise and prudent” thing to do. This is not Hungary in 1956. There is no one standing behind Qaddafi—not the Soviet Union then, not the Arab League now, not even the entirety of his own army. That is why he must recruit mercenaries to save him. Qaddafi is the kind of neighborhood bully that Slobodan Milosevic was. And he must be met by the same kind of principled power. For America to do less than that now—less than the minimum that the Libyan rebels and the Arab neighbors are requesting—would be to shrink into global vacillation and ultimately irrelevance. If Barack Obama cannot face down a modest thug who is hated by most of his own people and by every neighboring government, who can he confront anywhere?” said Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford told Mother Jones.

Moon called for an immediate cease fire and warned Gaddafi that he would be held accountable for the use of heavy weaponry against civilians.

The rebels said their air defense system had driven the planes off. The decision, by both sides, to block journalists from entering the war zone has made it difficult to determine the state of play. Four New York Times journalists apparently were in the hands of Gaddafi’s troops. Their location and status was unknown. Earlier Gaddafi’s forces detained, beat and pretended they were going to execute a BBC team. The three members left the country immediately after being released.

The International Committee of the Red Cross removed its team from Benghazi on Wednesday, transferring them to the east to Tobruk, also held by the rebels but farther from Gaddafi’s forces and close to the Egyptian border.

“As we leave Benghazi and Ajdabiya after almost 20 days, we are extremely concerned about what will happen to civilians, the sick and wounded, detainees and ot6hers who are entitled to protection in times of conflict,” said Simon Brooks, head of the ICRC mission in Libya. Agencies


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