News / Middle East

Correspondent Debriefer: Libya Rebels Continue to Pin Hopes on No-Fly Zone

A Libyan rebel fighter sits on a truck as he fires an anti-aircraft gun on a government warplane (file photo)
A Libyan rebel fighter sits on a truck as he fires an anti-aircraft gun on a government warplane (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Susan Yackee

Libyan rebels and government forces have staged several offensives in the battle for control of the country. To get a clearer picture of the situation on the ground, VOA’s Susan Yackee spoke to our correspondent Phil Ittner who is currently in the opposition-held town of Benghazi.

Ittner: The opposition leadership says that it has actually pushed back against what amounts to a counter-offensive by government troops. Those lines in the desert seem to be moving back and forth. Now, independently confirming where exactly the frontline is very difficult. Not only is it too dangerous for many journalists to go [there], but it’s a wide frontline, it being an open desert.

Listen to Susan Yackee’s debriefer with Phil Ittner:


The opposition says, however, that they pushed back into the oil town of Brega, that they took prisoners, that they killed some soldiers and pushed back against a government offensive.

Yackee: Are the rebels feeling demoralized?


Ittner: It comes and goes for the mood and the morale here in opposition-held [parts of] Libya. There is occasionally an awful lot of anxiety when they see the government pushing in this direction, but then it reverses when they think they are on the cusp of getting the international no-fly zone. Obviously, they are keeping a very close eye on diplomatic efforts both in Brussels and in New York.

A lot of the opposition leadership is heartened by the fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with an opposition delegation in Paris today. They do also point to the fact, at least in their minds, what they say, is the status of Gadhafi’s forces. They say that the actual troops of Mr. Gadhafi are demoralized; they are stretched with their supply lines, that he actually has very few frontline-proficient expert troops, that he is relying on his artillery, his planes and his tanks, and that the troops he has are actually demoralized.

VOA correspondent Phil Ittner on assignment in Benghazi, Libya
VOA correspondent Phil Ittner on assignment in Benghazi, Libya
So the mood does change within the opposition day-to-day. But the fact that apparently they have pushed back into Brega, the fact that they have captured opposition troops or so they say, and that these troops seem to be in a very poor state shows, in their minds, once there is movement on the international no-fly zone, that they will flood into the west quite quickly and that what they call the house of cards of Mr. Gadhafi’s forces will collapse quickly.

Yackee: Libyan state television is saying that the government has offered amnesty to any soldier that had defected and joined the rebels, but returns and surrenders to the military – is there any reaction to that?

Ittner: Actually, quite to the contrary. The opposition says that they are getting more defectors, that people are coming to their side, and that this kind of offer just shows the desperation in Tripoli of the Gadhafi regime. They also point to the fact that they have just appointed a new commander of their forces, a gentleman by the name of Abdel Yunis, who was the commander of the special forces brigade, who defected early in the uprising, but was reluctant to take command because of the command structure. Apparently, he felt that he could not take orders from officers that had previously been working under him.

And there was some reluctance on the opposition’s side, because Yunis had been very close to the Gadhafi regime. So although he had defected, he had not been on the front lines - him or his reported 2,500 soldiers . [unintelligible] … this coincides with what the opposition is saying – that it was a tactical maneuver that helped them move back into Brega. So, if you put the two together – the fact that there is a new military commander on the opposition side, and if reports that they moved back into Brega are accurate, it does show that there is a shift in the opposition forces and that there is a little bit more proficiency.

All of this is, of course, very hard to confirm and the accuracy of where that frontline is and what is going on on that frontline is very difficult [to ascertain]. There is a lot of concern among the opposition forces about possible fifth-columnists or infiltrators, pro-Gadhafi elements that may sneak into what is basically a volunteers force – so there is some anxiety there, some suspicion, and so there is a lot more control of movement leading to the frontline.

In addition to that there has been some souring of attitudes toward journalists, because they think that some of the information the world press is putting out is assisting the intelligence gathering capability of Mr. Gadhafi. So it’s very tenuous on the frontline. It’s very hard to get an accurate report, but here in Benghazi what the opposition is saying is: yes, we have seen setbacks, but we are convinced that this is only due to the heavy weaponry the government can bring to bear, not the amount of troops or the support or will of the people. The opposition says: when we get this no-fly-zone, this thing will collapse quickly and the Gadhafi family will run into exile in short order.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid