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Will Bankrupting Gaddafi’s Libya Pave the Way for Rebel Victory?
April 7, 2011Posted by on
As the Libyan power struggle drags into week seven, rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces continue to struggle for a foot hold, prompting heightened UN concern for civilians’ welfare in that country. 48 hours after Defence Dateline reported that â€œthe tide has been firmly turned in the battle for Libyaâ€, a pro-Gaddafi counter-attack and subsequent advance has once again reversed rebel gains. A frontline has now coalesced around Brega, 665 km from Tripoli. With no major advances from either side in several days, critics of the intervention are now casting the pitched battle as a stalemate.
Stalled advances and political blunders
Frontline reports have failed to provide a definitive explanation as to why the rebel advance has stalled. Words of warning were given by US Vice Admiral William Gortney, who predicted that a lack of military discipline and equipment would make any rebel gains â€œtenuousâ€. Indeed, early gains in the rebel offensive may have merely been a reflection of high levels of partisan enthusiasm. Though poorly organised, rebel morale was bourne up by western military assistance and popular media support. This initial advantage, it seems, has been effectively countered by pro-Gaddafi forces who have adapted tactics to avoid coalition attacks. The frequency of coalition air strikes, now operating under NATO command, has also suffered a visible decline since the early days of round-the-clock missions. This scaling back of attacks is officially due to poor-visibility over the weekend, though NATO critics point to the vehement opposition of Turkey and Germany to NATO assuming command and argue that reduced air sorties may, in fact, reflect a tightening of the agreed ROE.
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