Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Negotiations Falter with Gadhafi Forces Amid New Claim Despot Cornered

Giving Moammar Gadhafi and his loyalist fighters until Saturday to surrender is not the same a ceasefire for the Libyan rebels.

Several clashes have been reported around Libya and there is a new report in The New York Times that claims Gadhafi may be surrounded 150 90 miles from Tripoli in a desert redoubt in Bani Waled.

Libya's largest tribe, the Warfallah, a longtime ally of Gadhafi, control Bani Waled, a city of 50,000 people.

Negotiations are underway to try to avoid a battle with Gadhafi loyalists in cities like Sirte, but doubtful rebel forces have been massing there, preparing for a fight that military analysts warn could be tougher and bloodier than the taking of Tripoli.

To avoid bloodshed, the Transitional National Council and its rebel commanders would likely need to display a commitment to immense confidence-building reconciliation measures to ease the concerns of the Gadhadhfa (our chosen spelling among several known options) tribe, centered around Sirte.

Rebel fighters repeated public threats that they will kill Gadhafi have been unhelpful with building confidence.

Moammar Gadhafi is from the Gadhadhfa, a Berber tribe, and Sirte is his hometown. There are believed to be more Gadhadhfa living around Sabha, a city in the south that the rebels would also likely to engage, if there is a battle for Sirte.

NATO would prefer to see an accord than a fight.

The Gadhafi loyalists reportedly claimed they were struck by a rocket attack in Sirte. NATO did not immediately claim responsibility.

The Christian Science Monitor addresses the issue of the UN mandates to protect citizens, calling into question whether fighters from Sirte face slaughter at the hands of the rebels.

The rebels know NATO will not tolerate rampant killings if there is an attack, but they also know the alliance has blessed the TNC. The rebels remain confident NATO is with them.

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