News / Africa

Challenges Ahead as Libyan Rebels Advance on Tripoli

Libyan rebel fighters celebrate as they drive into the coastal city of Zawiyah, August 15, 2011.
Libyan rebel fighters celebrate as they drive into the coastal city of Zawiyah, August 15, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Douglas Mpuga

It has been six months since the outbreak of the revolt against Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s 42 years in power. But now the ill-trained and ill-equipped rebels from the western mountains have taken much of the strategic coastal town of Zawiyah, with its enormous oil refinery, just 30 miles west of Tripoli. There are reports that they control it completely.

By Friday the rebels had also taken Gharyan, an important outpost along the trade route to the south.

The rebels are advancing and changing the balance of power in Libya, says Dr. Walid Phares, an expert on the Middle East and author of The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East.

He says what the rebels are achieving now are the victories they wanted to achieve in the first two months of the conflict.

Phares says despite these gains by the rebels, Tripoli and its surroundings still has a large number of Gadhafi forces and equipment which the rebels have to overcome.

“Unless Gadhafi is taken out or he decides to leave, the rebels still face a big battle before they secure the control of the country,” he said.

Phares notes the important role of NATO forces in the conflict in Libya. “Without NATO air force superiority the rebels couldn’t have made those inroads. It is a war where NATO is opening the path and the rebels are measuring themselves against the remnants of the Gadhafi surviving forces, although the rebels have hardened,” he said.

The rebels are vowing to take Tripoli before the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan ends in late August.

As long as Gadhafi is still on the ground and leading his forces, Phares said, “I don’t think we are at the end of the conflict by force by the end of this month or even by the end of this summer.”

He points out that “when and if Gadhafi quits the command of his forces, those forces will become the new rebels.”

He says, even if the current Benghazi-based national transitional council forces take over, they will be faced with a very strong guerrilla force.

Another challenge the national transitional council faces if it takes power, he adds, is whether the islamists militias within the rebel ranks will disarm and give their weapons to the Libyan army. “It is difficult to imagine that militias who obtained power during a war will let go easily,” he said

Phares says as the NATO mandate draws to a close there is going to be a serious diplomatic battle between the United States and Russia on the way forward.

Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration said it was drawing up plans to evacuate thousands of migrants stranded in Tripoli because exit points have been cut off after a spate of rebel successes.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More