Friday, August 19, 2011

Surrounded, Gadhafi Looking for Refuge Outside of Libya

Moammar Gadhafi is looking for an Arab country willing to give him safe haven after rebel armies cut off his supply lines and captured his last oil refinery as NATO warplanes kept his tanks from countering the opposition's ferocious week-long offensive, according to published and broadcast reports.

Civilians have begun fleeing Tripoli, fearing street-to-street fighting or one last act of deadly defiance by Gadhafi against his people.

NATO bombed Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound overnight. At least seven loud blasts were heard and felt by Western journalists in Tripoli, the Associated Press reported.  

NBC reports Gadhafi could leave Libya, possibly for Tunisia, in a matter of days. NBC cited intelligence reports out of Washington. The loyalist government claimed it was engaged in talks with the rebels, asking for a cease-fire.

Gadhafi sent inquiries to Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, indicating he and his family are looking for a safe haven that would bring an end to his defiant stand against the revolutionaries of the Arab Spring, a representative of the rebel Transitional National Council in Cairo told the Pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

"Gadhafi is looking for a safe haven for his family in the case that Tripoli falls into the hands of the revolutionaries,"said Abdel Monem al-Houni, who was Gadhafi's top delegate to the Arab League before defecting to the rebel side.

The rebels say they have taken most of Zawiya, within 30 miles west of downtown Tripoli, capturing the last remaining oil refinery that had been proving fuel to the regime. Two other rebel armies have captured Zlintan to the east and Gharyan to the south with the help of Western air power, and the NATO Navy has cut off shipping to Tripoli.
Gadhafi and what remains of his forces are surrounded by what was once an uncoordinated rag-tag rebel force and a NATO alliance that has refused to put troops on the ground.

The key to the campaign was the emergence of a French-armed rebel division that came out of the Nafusa mountains in the West. With Gadhafi's forces tied up with the main rebel army in the east near Brega and separate opposition brigades out of Misurata, the Nafusa insurgents were able to march on Zawiya. NATO warplanes made it nearly impossible for Gadhafi's armor to move to re-enforce a loyalist garrison in that city.

France secretly parachuted small arms weapons, including tank-killers, in the Nafusa region earlier this summer, and more recently Qatar flew truckloads of ammunition into the captured air field outside of Misurata. NATO warships recently also helped the rebels capture a tanker loaded with fuel bound for Tripoli. The ship sailed into the de facto opposition capital Benghazi with rebels aboard. 

"The Gadhafi regime has few days before it breathes its last," al-Houni said.

1 comment:

  1. Over the past weeks, rebel fighters have been making military progress in their six-month campaign to oust Gaddafi, who has been in power for 42 years.