Politics | Human rights
"No-fly zone" or Libya to lie in ruins
Colonel Ghaddafi has made it clear he will not go anywhere - under no circumstances - and will use any possible means to remain in power.
On Sunday, pro-Ghaddafi troops followed the same tactics on Misrata, Libya's third largest city, located 200 kilometres west of Tripoli. Misrata was surrounded by land troops, backed up by the air force, trying to enter the city from three angles with tanks. The resulting street fights caused major damage and tens of civilian deaths. Even ambulances were shot at.
Also the eastern rebel forces, which during last week finally organised and started an offensive towards Tripoli, are feeling the massive arms advantage of the pro-Ghaddafi troops.
In a rebel offensive towards the key Ghaddafi-held city of Sirte, rebels first took the small town of Bin Jawad with support from local residents. Massive air attacks on the rebels, combined with a land ambush, forced the rebels to withdraw from Bin Jawad. Renewed battles on Sunday were indecisive.
Meanwhile, the long supply lines between rebel stronghold Benghazi and the front at Bin Jawad is constantly threatened by air attacks and ambushes from pro-Ghaddafi troops hiding outside major cities and towns.
The Libyan air force plays a key role in attacking civilians in this new phase of the Libyan rebellion. Libyan war planes and helicopters launch surprise attacks on mostly civilian targets in towns and cities taken over by the people. Further, they prepare for land-based attacks against civilians and play a key role in halting the rebel offensive that could put an end to the Ghaddafi regime.
"No-fly zone" must be put in place now
Libyan interim authorities - set up by the people in
Civilians all over Libya report about the same destructions and killings by the air force. The unanimously urge Arab neighbours or Western powers to stop hesitating and talking and impose a no-fly zone.
Interim authorities in Benghazi, increasingly recognised internationally to represent the Libyan people, have issued strong-worded protests against a possible outside military intervention on the ground, fearing "a new Iraq" in Libya. Thry are also against economic sanctions, which could further victimise the Libyan people.
They however strongly urge for a no-fly zone over Libya.
In the US, in the Arab League and in Europe, there is a growing number of influential leaders advocating for a no-fly zone. As politicians are increasingly in favour of a no-fly zone, military US and European sources say they would be ready for such a move but indirectly warn against it.
A key statement was made by US Secretary of Defence Bill Gates, who late last week made it clear he opposes a no-fly zone over Libya, having in mind this was "a big country" that would call for "a big operation". Mr Gates reminded those in favour that "a no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defences."
Meanwhile, Benghazi authorities and Libyan civilians express their frustration over the unending talks and empty resolutions by the international community. They appeal for action right now - with a no-fly zone and, if necessary, attacks on Libyan aircrafts and helicopters not complying.
The longer the international community waits, the more Colonel Ghaddafi's strategy of destroying Libya before his inevitable downfall will succeed.
By staff writers
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