The New York Times is reporting that pro-Gaddafi forces are pulling out of Misrata however the Libyan government is saying this is the first step in a plan to turn fighting over to tribal supporters. The paper goes on to say that it is unclear if tribes would take up the fight. Why did the Gaddafi regime decide to pull out? How much has the NATO campaign affected Gaddafi and his ability to continue fighting?
The BBC reports that the U.S. has confirmed the first Predator strike in Libya. Apparently the Pentagon did not go into details of the strike only saying that it occurred in the early afternoon local time. The paper states that drones can hit military targets more easily in urban areas, minimising the risk of civilian casualties. If true, this may have a significant impact on loyalist troops. Up to now, NATO has had difficulty in targeting anything within urban areas as there is the fear of causing civilians casualties.
VOA described a NATO bombing of a military installation close to the Gaddafi compound. The Saturday strike caused no injuries even though it set off alarms in the capital. While Libyan officials said the site was a parking lot, reporters on the scene described two bomb craters which exposed a layer of reinforced concrete covering what appeared to be a bunker. They added that ammunition crates also lay close by.
Many news outlets are describing the current situation as a stalemate. (see the Russia Today video below) Neither side seems to be able to oust the other. The question is what is going to break the deadlock? ABC News supplied something of any answer in talking about how U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the international mission in Libya is trying to get Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi removed from power. The original United Nations mandate called for the protection of civilians and said nothing of regime change. As a consequence, the U.S., other powers, and NATO have had to frame their actions in that context alone.
ABC quoted Gates, “Regime change was always a political goal. And I think that there was an understanding that regime change is complicated and that it works best when it’s done from the inside, and that it could take time. And that’s why the sanctions and the embargoes and everything are associated with that.”
“Regime change imposed from the outside, as we have seen in Iraq and in the Balkans, is incredibly difficult and works best, as we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt, when it is done from within. And we are trying to provide enough space — and in order to protect the opposition from Gadhafi’s military, to the extent we can, we are reducing his military capabilities to the point where hopefully those who rose up in many of these other towns, as well as the places that are under siege now, will have a better chance of being successful in bringing about a change there. The real work of that will have to be done by the Libyans themselves. But we can provide them with some cover from the air. And I think the kind of training that some of the allies are going to do and some of the assistance they’re providing will help them. But this is likely to take a while.”
The National Post spoke about John McCain’s visit to Libya on Friday, the highest-profile Western politician to visit Benghazi. McCain has been impatient with Washington’s cautious approach to military intervention and its refusal to recognise the rebel government. Saying the rebels have earned the right, he felt that Gaddafi had forfeited the right to govern by waging war on his own people. White House spokesman Jay Carney in responding to McCain’s appeal said that it is not up to the United States but up to the Libyan people to decide who should rule their country.
The Washington Post just one hour ago wrote that Misurata seems to have witnessed its first Predator drone attack at the vegetable market on Tripoli Street, the main three-mile avenue that divides the city, where a few of Gaddafi’s troops are still holed up and attacking. The paper goes on to report that 400 hundred people have been killed during the siege of the city and over a thousand are presumed dead.
Euronews – Apr 23/2011
Libyan soldiers say army retreating from Misrata
Libyan troops capturedby rebels in Misrata said on Saturday the army had been ordered to retreat from the besieged port, marking a possible shift in a two-month revolt against leader Muammar Gaddafi. According to the rebels, the troops say they have been ordered to pullout of the city. Libya’s government says NATO air strikes might force its army to stop retaking the country’s third largest city, but local tribes are ready to take over the battle.
Euronews – Apr 23/2011
Tribes to replace army in Misrata, warns Libyan leadership
Libya’s deputy foreign minister has hinted the army may quit Misrata because of NATO airstrikes and leave local tribes to drive rebels out. The threat by the regime came after rebel fighters opposed to Colonel Gaddafi’s forces appeared to make big gains in the besieged western port city, retaking key buildings used by government snipers.
Russia Today – Apr 22/2011
US drops predator drones into Libya war zone as deadlock costs go up
The coalition is turning up the heat on Colonel Gaddafi. U.S. armed predator drones have joined the mission to seek and destroy the embattled leader’s arsenal. The allied forces have been engaged in the country’s civil conflict for more than a month now. But with little to show for it, the deadlocked war is causing widespread concern about its cost.
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