The battle for Benghazi

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, March 18th, 2011 - 11 comments
Categories: war - Tags: ,

I wrote and scheduled this post last night and literally at the same time as it went up, the UN Security Council voted for the No Fly Zone, which authorises air attacks on ground forces. I’m still worried it’s too late.

The Arab League turned against Gaddifi this week, calling for a no-flight zone. But the UN Security Council voted it down. The US voted against that proposal but is now talking about possibly talking about air strikes. As the West dithers the crucial moment, to borrow from the Bard, is now, very now. The Battle for Benghazi will start any day.

When it does, the pro-Gaddifi military will inevitably over-run the rebels. There’s a small hope that the Gaddifi forces will over-stretch their supply lines as the rebels did a week ago but it doesn’t look likely.

Simply, the failure of Tripoli to rise up in force was the turning point. Everyone expected that the population there would follow the lead of the other cities. But there were too few protesters and Gaddifi’s forces massacred them. Rebel forces tried to advance from the East but became over-stretched while Gaddifi, once his capital was secure, was able to send out forces to take back the lost cities. Too much of the supposedly rebel military has sat on the sidelines and let amateurs do the fighting. They, foolishly, think that will save them if and when Gaddifi wins.

When Benghazi falls, it won’t only be thousands of civilians and rebels that will die. So, will the dreams of reformers and revolutionaries across the Arab world.

The US knows this, of course. That’s why they will still be talking about doing something to stop Gaddifi when the rebels are finally crushed.

11 comments on “The battle for Benghazi”

  1. Pascal's bookie 1

    UN declares a nfz

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/70788/military-intervention-in-libya-approved-by-un

    The United Nations Security Council has voted to authorise a no-fly zone over Libya.

    It has also approved the use of “all necessary measures” — code for military action — to protect civilians against leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

    Ten of the council’s 15 member states voted in favour of the resolution, with Russia, China and Germany among the five states abstaining.

    Abstentions but no vetos

    Diplomats say the resolution includes all military means short of occupation of the country.

    So it’s not a nfz, it’s about hitting g’s assets. That’s an important distinction. Problem is, does the int.community still recognise the regime as legitimate? What’s the actual plan here? Is this just an ad hoc knee jerk with no real plan at all about how to react to the changing events, or is the plan to depose the regime.

    If the latter, how can we be sure that whatever replaces the regime will be able to survive? We know that the rebellion failed, so how can we expect the rebels to be able to govern?

    Is the west prepared to fight an insurgency in defence of any replacement regime?

    Is the lesson from Iraq, that there are no lessons to be learned from Iraq?

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 1.1

      Wow amazing what can be achieved when there is the West Texas Crude price to consider. Seriously though- do you think if there were an uprising in Tibet or Zimbabwe anybody would care about bombing of civilians?

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        Seriously though- do you think if there were an uprising in Tibet or Zimbabwe anybody would care about bombing of civilians?

        I know what you are saying, but re: Tibet – even if it happens no government in the world is going to lift a finger against China. And certainly no votes are getting passed in the UN Security Council.

    • Bill 1.2

      Given that other dictators of the region are giving support to this effort, I’m guessing the plan is to gazzump the revolution and install a pro-Washington puppet regime.

      So, Gadaffi gone. A spin put on proceedings so as to appear to support the objectives of the people…democracy and so on….while laying the foundations for the ascendancy of ‘our’ new leaders.

      I mean, why would Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab regimes be supporting revolution in Libya while suppressing all the other stirrings of revolution across N. Africa and the Arab World? It doesn’t make sense unless their aim is to pull Libya ‘into the fold’ via some compliant government/ regime that they hope to be instrumental in installing.

  2. I suppose their strategy will be to make the loyalist army afraid to leave the cities they hold by blowing up any heavy weaponry like tanks that venture out. They’ll be very worried about bombing near civilians so urban areas are out but there’s basically only the one coastal highway they need to deny gaddifi. Bombing friendlies will be a big risk. They have left this very late, they’ll need to use a lot of firepower just to stop gaddifi getting to benghazi. And then what?

  3. I suppose their strategy will be to make the loyalist army afraid to leave the cities they hold by blowing up any heavy weaponry like tanks that venture out. They’ll be very worried about bombing near civilians so urban areas are out but there’s basically only the one coastal highway they need to deny gaddifi. Bombing friendlies will be a big risk. They have left this very late, they’ll need to use a lot of firepower just to stop gaddifi getting to benghazi. And then what? I guess they hope the military collapses and Tripoli rises up.

  4. Eddie you must have missed that in the last two days Gaddafi’s forces were suffering bigger losses and defections. It was by no means inevitable that Benghazi would fall. The no-fly-zone is insurance that Gaddafi would be defeated and that the revolution would get out of control with obvious implications for the rest of North Africa and the Middle East. Literally, the NFZ is a ‘lid’ on the revolution.
    http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/component/content/article/177-latest-news/11290-the-west-are-intervening-to-stop-the-revolution-not-to-save-it

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 4.1

      I’m not sure how Gaddifi could survive. You can only bribe so many people and now that the resistance has shown itself capable its only a matter of time before enough of his army defects.

      Even if he can nominally control all the cites, there will be countless insurgencies and spot fires to put out and the army will get sick of being a police force.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    It is reasonably safe to speculate from our distance, but despite my abhorrence of ordinary people being blasted to bits in any circumstance, imperialist forces should keep the hell out of Lybia.

    International solidarity in social upheaval situations can only be provided on a class basis, what is the desired outcome when the dust has settled?

    • Billy Fish 5.1

      “imperialist forces should keep the hell out of Lybia.”

      Rubbish, absolute rubbish
      Heard the same drivel about Timor back in the late 90’s. No intervention, let the people ris eu pfrom the hills and take power etc etc/
      Sometimes stopping a Fascist Dictator (ie Gadaffi) is actually a good thing, and yeah, propped up by those powers before hand etc etc.But it is possbile to change a postion.

      Re the Why would (esp Saudi) agree to intervention here? Possibly as a quid pro quo for tacit agreement on the use of force in Bahrain.

  6. prism 6

    The USA spokesperson in original discussions as to intervention was very concerned that it was done in a proper legal way. The USA is so careful about doing the right thing! What a pity they don’t search for that principle (under someone’s seat in the Congress or accidentally thrown in a rubbish bin at the Pentagon) and when found, follow it always.

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