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Interpretations vary on Rebel Terms for a Ceasefire

Posted by on April 2, 2011 0 Comment

Unless both sides see the need for a cease fire it is not likely to happen on its own. The coalition enforcing the UN resolution would have had to put pressure on each. But instead of doing this the coalition has done evertyhing it could under the resolution and then some to help the rebels. So there was no incentive at all for a ceasefire on the rebel side..

But the situation has changed. The rebel advance was stalled again and reversed. On Gadaffi’ side there have been defections from the leadership even though militarily he is doing reasonably well. Each side may now want a ceasefire. This is the first time the rebels have shown the slightest interest in a ceasefire. Coalition bombing and continued taking and retaking of cities probably is creating a large toll in dead Libyans..Libyan rebels lay down terms for ceasefire.

The rebels said they would agree to a ceasefire if Gadaffi pulls his military forces out of opposition held cities and allows peaceful protests against his regime. The offer is somewhat surprising in that there is no demand that Gadaffi leave power! All those enforcing the UN resolution are certainly attempting their best to ensure this takes place. Earlier the rebels have made it clear there will be no negotiations until Gadaffi goes. But if there is a ceasefire surely this is just a prelude to negotiations as again are set out in the UN resolution.

It seems that the two towns of Misurata and Brega are places where there is ongoing struggle between pro and anti-Gadaffi forces. Gadaffi is not likely to accept the premise that these are rebel held towns. However after a ceasefire there could be negotiations on who would control which city. It would make sense for Misurata in the west be under Gadaffi control and Brega under rebel control.

Abdul-Jalil the head of the rebel governing council actually phrased the conditions somewhat differently then the summary in the Al Jazeera article does. Abdul-Jalil said the rebels’ condition for a ceasefire is “that the Gaddafi brigades and forces withdraw from inside and outside Libyan cities to give freedom to the Libyan people to choose and the world will see that they will choose freedom”.

This really does not seem to be as the Al Jazeera writers describe the situation which suggests the demand is only that Gadaffi withdraw from cities held by the rebels! Are the Gadaffi troops to withdraw to military bases to be bombed by the alliance forces! This would not be a ceasefire but setting up Gadaffi forces to be wiped out.

The Al Jazeera interpretation of the offer strikes me as just plain wrong and not even close to the actual words of the rebel leader. Why Al Jazeera would interpret the conditions as just withdrawing from rebel held (actually) contested cities eludes me.

The rebels are attempting to regroup. They obviously now have mortars and rocket launchers. One might think that when used to attack cities they might cause civilian deaths. But apparently only such weapons used by Gadaffi cause civilian deaths. There has never been any attempt by the coalition to bomb rebel forces massing with such weapons to attack a Gadaffi held city.

The article mentions that rebels also appeared to have more communication equipment such as radios and satellite phones, and were working in more organised units, in which military defectors were each leading six or seven volunteers. No doubt CIA operatives are providing supplies and expertise to direct coalition bombing missions.
The Libyan transitional government has already signed an oil deal they reached with Qatar which will allow them to buy more arms. Interesting, in that there is an arms embargo on both sides. The article does not mention this.

The U.S. and other countries in the coalition all seem to be busy denying they will put boots on the ground. Of course they are already their secretly as special forces and CIA operatives. The whole denial is to avoid backlash from the publics of the U.S. Britain, Canada, etc.. Only Libyan casualties are politically acceptable.

Many analysts have claimed another resolution would be necessary to even arm rebels. As with most of what happens about Libya this is a matter of optics and a denial of what is happening. They are being armed. They already have mortars, rocket launchers, and sophisticated communications equipment. They are now lead by a former CIA operative and operations are coordinated through western experts who are providing targeting info to the alliance planes flying above.

There may be a number of political talks going on behind the scenes. The best outcome would be an actual ceasefire. If the terms are as the actual Libyan transitional commander outlines them this does not seem to be likely accepted by the Gadaffi regime. But at least it is a move in the right direction. The best way to protect civilians is to have no shooting at all! Agencies


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