Rebels take Back Oil Centers as Tripoli suffers Gasoline Crisis

Irregulars of the Libyan liberation movement rapidly advanced along the coastal road going West on Sunday, reestablishing control over Brega, Ra’s Lanuf, Ben Jawad and, they say, going all the way to Sirt (no independent source confirms that they actually reached the latter by mid-morning Monday). The path was paved by British Tornado fighter jets that took out armor and artillery all along the road from Ajdabiya going west to Sirt. Though there were some military encounters, for the most part the rebel forces did not so much reconquer the cities as just drive unopposed into them, since allied bombing raids had softened them up, pro-Qaddafi forces had fled, and local people appear to have accepted the liberation movement soldiers without resisting them.

Sirt, the town of Muammar Qaddafi’s birth, which has been a recipient of much government aid, was bombed repeatedly by United Nations allies on Sunday, with one report talking of nine powerful explosions. Earlier on Sunday there were reports that Qaddafi’s military convoys were racing out of the city toward Tripoli. Mid-morning Monday, an Aljazeera Arabic correspondent reported being stuck and under government fire at Wadi al-Ahmar a few miles outside Sirt. This was the only clash the reporter had witnessed on the road up from Ajdabiya. But most pro-Qaddafi troops had fled. It seems that the pro-Qaddafi forces feared being devastated from the sky and took a chance that they would not be bombed if they were clearly fleeing the scene. It is interesting to me that they appear to have made a beeline for Tripoli rather than falling back to Misrata from which they could have hoped to make a stand. Of course, if the aim was to avoid being bombed, better to park your tank among civilian neighborhoods in the capital.

Mumbai’s Times Now Online has video:

The recovery of Ajdabiya, Brega and Ra’s Lanuf gives the liberation movement forces an opportunity to begin pumping oil again and exporting it so as to gain resources in their struggle with Qaddafi. They probably cannot do so as quickly as they now suggest (a week!), but likely it is a coming factor in the conflict.

in contrast, I find the behavior of the Qaddafi tank brigade in Misrata closer to the capital to be hard to understand. Pro-Qaddafi tank commanders appear to be attempting to take the city center, and they subjected it to intense shelling on Sunday. But why is it they aren’t afraid of being reduced to black carbon dust by the NATO aerial bombardments, as happened to their colleagues at Ajdabiya and on the road west from there? Even if they could put tanks in the city center, what would they really have accomplished, in a situation where the rebel army is moving quickly west and would likely hit them with rocket propelled grenades once it arrives? Since most of Misrata obviously hates them, how could they think they will be allowed to stay there very long, just by main force?

In Tripoli, residents are suffering from a gasoline shortage that is disrupting economic life. Malta stopped a fuel ship on its way to west Libya, preventing it from making its delivery in accordance with the UN blockade of Tripoli.

The BBC reports that residents of Tripoli entertain the strongest reservations over the verity of official Libyan television reports, which they believe to be staged and false. They say there is a clip of loading supposedly injured bodies into an ambulance and you can see the ambulance medic sneering sardonically as the doors close (he thought he was already off-camera).

5 Responses

  1. “Sirt, the town of Muammar Qaddafi’s birth, which has been a recipient of much government aid, was bombed repeatedly by United Nations allies on Sunday”

    Don’t these bombing fall outside the scope of UNSCR 1973 as civilians are not being protected by bombing Sirte. Unless I am mistaken there was no danger of Qaddafi attacking his own hometown. The conflict has left the realms of protecting civilians and is now about regime change and is also now illegal.

  2. Here in UK some anxiety in broadcasts over the ‘protection of citizens’ aspect of 1973 resolution with Paddy Ashdown – ex Bosnia and ex leader of the Lib Dems voicing some concerns on NATO activity and future roles of the West.

    I just don’t get it why they don’t geddit?.As soon as Gadaffi stops hurting his own people it stops. The entire operation and any future path is completely down to him. He stops it stops. He negotiates it stops. They agree a peace it stops.


  3. The erasing of Qadaffi air force and the wipping out of advancing tank columns was not enough for the rebels to gain ground. Thus, NATO had to forget UN resolution and destroy defensive Qadaffi positions, infantry, artillery, armor. With soldiers and tanks destroyed from the air the rebels could easily use their own tanks and soldiers to take the vacant terrain. I wonder if the UN resolution said something about helping rebels to attack cities. The NATO move seems to be fully against the UN resolution but who cares.

    Overall, Western powers are winning again in the Middle East. In January and February it seemed that the whole region was set to sail free. However, right now we see how the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions have stalled and Israel and USA have been able to minimize damages there. In Lybia we are working for regime change with awesome impunity, kicking out an unpredictable regime to put in its place a pro-western alliance of eastern tribes. In Bahrein, Jordania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Argelia, Oman, the dangerous revolts are being controlled by a combination of killings and vague reform promises. In Syria, the same governement recipe is playing in our favor, this time offering us the opportunity to repeat the Lybian gambit if we want/dare. Syrian regime is a harder nut than Libya, but the prize would also be even bigger (think Israel, think Iran, thin Lebanon).

  4. Obviously we have abandoned the pretense of providing protection for civilians with a “no fly zone” and have seamlessly moved into activity supporting a ground offensive. You can’t bomb a city without civilian casualties. You know that. I have read postings on “Informed Comment” pointing out that bombing a populated area is a war crime. The lying and hypocrisy surrounding this military action is disgusting.

    Tanks are not “reduced to black carbon dust”. They are blown apart and burned, usually with depleted uranium weapons that poison the earth and air around them, and the people inside of them burned to death, people enlisted in their own national army, defending their own government against an uprising and a foreign invasion. They may be wrong to do so, but they are still entitled to be valued as human beings.

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