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

Multimedia In US, Decision Expected Soon in Racially Charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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