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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.