News / Middle East

    Pro-Gadhafi Forces Said to Be Weak on Manpower

    A rebel fighter holds an anti-aircraft rocket launcher in Ajdabiyah, Libya, March 15, 2011
    A rebel fighter holds an anti-aircraft rocket launcher in Ajdabiyah, Libya, March 15, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Susan Yackee

    Fighting in Libya between forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and rebels hoping to overthrow his government continues. Our correspondent Phil Ittner has been reporting about the conflict from opposition-held Benghazi. Today, he traveled by car from Benghazi toward Egypt. Susan Yackee caught up with him when he stopped by the side of the road between the town of Tobruk and the Egyptian border, where he shared some of his impressions about the rebels’ ongoing struggle.

    Listen to Susan Yackee’s debriefer with Phil Ittner:

    Ittner: The opposition is facing a massive military machine on the side of the government here. The pro-Gadhafi side seems to have the bulk of heavy weaponry – they have artillery, they have naval capabilities, and they have, of course, air power. But one of the charges put repeatedly by the opposition against the government is that they don’t have the manpower. They don’t have the support of the people neither in the armed forces nor within the population - something, obviously, Moammar Gadhafi contends is not true, but in evidence to back up what the opposition is saying we do see, repeatedly, the pro-Gadhafi forces having trouble actually taking territory in terms of putting boots on the ground.

    VOA correspondent Phil Ittner while on assignment in Benghazi, Libya
    VOA correspondent Phil Ittner while on assignment in Benghazi, Libya

    We have seen [pro-Gadhafi forces] hitting quite hard against the opposition rebel units, in particular with artillery and air strikes, but when it comes to actually holding territory, putting soldiers into towns or key strategic positions within Libya, the pro-Gadhafiists seem to have a real problem doing that, and this seems to add credence to what the opposition is saying. The opposition is saying: “We have the people, he has the guns.” And it does seem that there is evidence to back this up.

    What we have also seen in the last week or week and a half is that the military machine is being used to great effect against what is basically a large number of volunteers, very enthusiastic young men inspired by the Jasmin Revolution in the rest of North Africa and the Middle East wanting to overthrow a government that has been in power for more than 42 years, a government that people here in the east of the country say is despotic, uses torture, terrorism and intimidation techniques to subdue the population.

    And they say that with the wind of chance in the region they really want to take advantage of this. The problem for them, they say, is unlike the leaders in Egypt or Tunisia, Moammar Gadhafi has no reservations about using some very heavy-handed tactics against them. It’s the very same reason why they want to see him overthrown. And we have seen artillery used against these very enthusiastic troops, we have seen airstrikes used against them, to great effect, because they are not professional soldiers; they are amateurs, and it is a groundswell movement here in the east.

    Yackee: There is a lot of talk about a no-fly-zone. How crucial is this to the rebels?

    Ittner: It is a very important factor here on the ground. As I have been saying, the problem that the opposition faces is that Gadhafi spent an awful lot of money building up his military machine. That is his ace in the hole, and if that were taken out of the equation, the sheer numbers on the opposition side, at least this is what the rebel leadership says, those numbers would be enough to take this country if the military machine is taken out by an international no-fly zone.

    Now, it’s important to note that an international fly-zone would, of course, mean the most important thing – that jets would not be able to fly, something that has really impeded the opposition’s efforts. But it would also mean hitting command and control, communications centers. It would really strike against Gadhafi’s military infrastructure - the thing that is keeping the opposition back. So the opposition basically says that [a no-fly-zone] is probably the most important thing that the international community can do to protect not only the citizenry, but also help overthrow what they claim is a despotic regime in power for 42 years, in their words, 42 years too long.

     

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

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora