Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | May 5, 2011

Libya coalition to create fund for rebels … within weeks

The noose continues to tighten on Muammar Qaddafi.  As he pounds rebels in Libya’s Western mountain range and hunkers down outside besieged Misrata, the Kinetic Military Action Coalition has met in Rome to discuss providing funds for the Libyan rebels.  According to French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, the “fund should be operational within weeks.”

Libyan civilians might be pardoned for wondering when the “protection” is going to start.  Besides the hundreds recently evacuated from Misrata by sea, thousands are now fleeing the fighting in western Libya, joining the thousands already displaced and being sheltered at makeshift border camps.  The destruction of infrastructure is colossal in the urban areas where fighting has raged – and, of course, civilians continue to be killed with each day of combat.

But they can take comfort in the fact that setting up the fund will, as Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini puts it, “permit funds to be channeled effectively and transparently” to the rebels.  I think we can all agree that ineffective and opaque fund channeling would be a flawed approach.

Meanwhile, a Canadian forces spokesman, Brigadier General Richard Blanchette, told Canadian media yesterday that “it will take time before NATO air forces can eliminate the Libyan despot’s capacity to strike at his own people.”  NATO operations are being slowed by Qaddafi’s tactics: “pro-Gadhafi forces continue to use civilians as human shields, which slows down the speed at which NATO can launch airstrikes.”  Canadian authorities will review their national participation in Operation Unified Protector at the 90-day mark, which falls in late June.  Presumably, the operation will still be active then.

The Russians retain strong suspicions that NATO intends to put ground troops in Libya.  According to state media outlet Russia Today, a NATO spokesman, Canadian James Appathurai, told Russian students during a videoconference this week that the coalition needed a new UN resolution authorizing ground forces.  RT quotes him as follows: “The UN Security Council should adopt a new resolution on Libya. Resolution 1973 does not envisage land operations. We need a new resolution.”

Appathurai was not speaking in an official-policy capacity, of course, but assuming he really said this, it seems startlingly tin-eared to say it to a Russian audience if NATO is not seriously developing this option.

We have also known for weeks that Islamists were at work in Libya, some of them (notably Al Qaeda) with direct ties to the rebel forces.  This interview by a Christian Science Monitor reporter with a Libyan rebel (identified only by a pseudonym) highlights an important downside of letting the conflict in Libya drag out:  it gives jihadists time to flood the country.  The rebel says it’s already happening:

“Al Qaeda [is] getting more and more organized and bringing people [to Libya] from abroad,” says the believer, adding that he has been contacted by militants wanting to fight in his homeland. He has not joined the frontline against forces loyal to Qaddafi because he says Muslims should not kill Muslims. “This is a great land for Al Qaeda. There are a lot of opportunities for them here. They are not far away in Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt.”

And the death of Bin Laden won’t change that, he adds: “For Islamic organizations leadership doesn’t mean much, ideology does. Leadership is just a soul that comes and goes. Ideology stays.”

“Now that Bin Laden is dead, a lot of leaders in the shade will come out … and will be smarter than him and better than him,” says Naluti. “Al Qaeda will continue. The clash of civilizations will continue.”

Indeed.  But at least the Kinetic Military Action Coalition will channel funds to the rebels effectively and transparently, starting in a few weeks.

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.”  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.


Responses

  1. Let me get this straight: NATO is bombing Gaddafi forces in Libya to prevent them from inflicting casualties on civilians. Am I right so far? OK, aren’t the rebels, by definition civilians? Or, if not civilians, maybe traitors? Anyway, Gaddafi’s actions, the actions of the Gaddafi folks, to preserve his government, must, of necessity, involve actions against people who are not on the payroll of any particular army, ergo they’re civilians. Even if they receive wages from some sort of rebel group, that group can’t be a national army, like Gaddafi’s is. So, they’re civilians. Kind of the scenario of most civil wars.

    • And if Gaddafi deserves the NATO treatment, when do they start in on Assad?

      • Never. Assad is a “reformer” who needs to be sweet talked into “flipping” from pro-Iranian/anti-American into anti-Iranian/pro-American. If he gets the NATO treatment, he might become resistant to said sweet talking. We can’t risk losing this once in a lifetime chance!! Can’t you just feel how close we are chuck??

  2. The Gadhafi Government is about to fall. With the recent destruction of the battle group that was attempting to take the city of Misurata, Muammar is now in a tenuous position in Western Libya. The opposition fighters are advancing in all directions in various columns from the city center of Misurata. With the opposition forces retaining this strategically important city, there is no hope that Gadhafi can now end this matter with a political partition of the nation between east and west. That dream is finished.

    The ethnic Berbers in the Fezzan region are fighting a hell of a guerrilla war against loyalist forces in the mountainous region to the south of Tripoli. The Tunisian frontier is only under Gadhafi control in the coastal region. The subsaharan region is contested and Gadhafi’s forces can not hold ground here.

    The battlefield has not changed much in the past few days, but this will change very soon. In the oil fields around Al Brega and Ras Lanuf (east of Sirte), Gadhafi has a battle group of an estimated 3,000 men. But with the capture of Misurata by the rebels, the coastal highway is now cut between Tripoli and the east and this battle group is isolated and can not be effectively re-supplied. This battle group is analogous to the 6th Army at Stalingrad in 1942-43. These men still loyal to Gadhafi in this area are effectively cut off from the next nearest Gadhafi stronghold in Sirte. The battle group is still dangerous in fixed positions, but does not have fuel or momentum to advance forward again toward Ajdabiya or Benghazi. It is doubtful if this battle group has enough fuel to even retreat back to Sirte without having to abandon many of their remaining vehicles. In a matter of time, the rebel army in Benghazi that is currently being trained and armed will inevitably advance forward and roll up the line.

    Pre-War Libya had two primary refinery complexes – one in Zawiya (west of Tripoli) an the other larger facility in Tobruk (opposition territory). The oil producing region in the Al Brega/Ras Lanuf area are basically out of service for Gadhafi, but the dictator sill has control of the fields directly south of Tripoli in the Sabha district. With limited domestic crude available and only one refinery complex under government control, Gadhafi’s military machine is beginning to show signs of stress due to this fuel-deprived condition. NATO has destroyed most of the tanks, APCs and other mechanized units – but Gadhafi can still field a fleet of ‘technical’ like vehicles of pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and recoilless rifles. Consequently, there is now battlefield parity between the armaments of the government forces against the rebel opposition.

    To date, this has been a successful intervention by the UN. Coalition and NATO forces have not suffered any casualties and only the loss of one piece of capital equipment (one F15 US Fighter – due to mechanical malfunction). In a matter of weeks, the entire operation will be over. At this point, NATO could actually pull out and the opposition will prevail. Too many of Gadhafi’s most loyal soldiers have died at this point. The capital is gripped with fears of conscription.

    I’m very glad that the reign of this dictator is about to end. Simply getting revenge for the PanAM 103 Flight is satisfactory enough for me, but watching a new democracy emerge in this formerly oppressed nation is also very gratifying.


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