News / Africa

Libyan Rebels Gain Diplomatic Advance, but Retreat on Battlefield

Rebel fighters at positions outside Brega, Libya, show their support for the opposition and their enthusiastic belief that they will overthrow the government in Tripoli, March 10, 2011
Rebel fighters at positions outside Brega, Libya, show their support for the opposition and their enthusiastic belief that they will overthrow the government in Tripoli, March 10, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Libya’s opposition had success on the international stage Thursday, but setbacks in fighting against forces loyal to the country's leader, Moammar Gadhafi.


The opposition lost territory in both the east and west of the country, though the rebels here in Benghazi were buoyed by the recognition by France of the opposition administration.

Hundreds of supporters took to the streets in the opposition’s stronghold. They carried signs praising and thanking France for recognizing their new interim governing council as the representative of the Libyan people.

For 19-year-old Zarah this puts France in good standing in her heart and her favor. "They are good to us from the start, they stand with us since the beginning… So they good… We like France… We like them more… We like the government France."

For the rebel leadership, it means more than good tidings that France has recognized them. As opposition spokesman Mustaffa Geliani put it, it means some tangible steps forward for what he hopes will be the new government of Libya…

"At least as a legal government of this country we can request to purchase weapons if we have to," said Geliani… "We could address United Nations, formally, as a country, trying to protect ourself, which we couldn’t do that before… Once you have recognition and you are member of world community you can ask for things. Before we were doing it, in a sense, illegally, right? It’s a revolution. But today we have a voice. So we are quite optimistic… Time is on our side."

Time may not be on the side, however, for the fighters on the front lines. Counter-offensives by government troops are using overwhelming force and regaining territory with a bloody cost.

Even the rebel leadership now acknowledges the western town of Zawiya, near Tripoli, is back in the hands of forces loyal to Gadhafi after holding out for days.

In the east, the oil refinery town of Ras Lanuf is under intense pressure from airstrikes, artillery and naval bombardment. Rebel fighters were seen leaving. Reports from the town and refinery are that they were on the verge of falling into the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces.

If that happens, there are only a handful of small towns to slow down a government push across the desert. Just a bit more than 200 kilometers lie between Ras Lanuf and the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

At a woman's rally in Benghazi, Libya, supporters show their appreciation that France has recognized the Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, March 10, 2011
At a woman's rally in Benghazi, Libya, supporters show their appreciation that France has recognized the Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, March 10, 2011

The rebels say, though, that they will make Gadhafi pay for every bit of that ground… They have moved up units that defected from the Libyan army to try to give order to what is primarily a force of enthusiastic but amateur fighters. In addition, they are throwing into the fight the heavier weapons they captured at the beginning of the uprising more than three weeks ago.

So Thursday, the opposition supporters were happy to see a win on the diplomatic front. With government forces headed their way, though, they still are pleading with the international community to stop debating and start acting by imposing the no-fly zone the rebels have been asking for.

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

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid