Update on Libyan Civil War, May 15th
Introduction to the Civil War
The Civil War in Libya has now been going on for 3 months. This whole process began on February 15th, when there mass protests in Benghazi about the arrest of a lawyer, Fathi Terbil, who was representing the families of those killed in the Abu Salim prison during a massacre in 1996 that killed 1,270 political prisoners. Qaddafi’s government responded with a brutal crackdown, up to and including Fighters shooting and bombing Protesters.
The eastern third of the nation, sometimes called in the past called Cyrenaica, fell out of Qaddafi’s control. This region of the country had chafed under Qaddafi’s rule for years, and a has suffered from neglect. At the same time, when the Berbers were asked by Qaddafi to supply men, they refused, instead deciding to hole up in the Nafusa Mountains against Qaddafi’s Forces. The Berbers had been also mistreated by Qaddafi, largely as a consequence of not being Arab. In addition, Misrata fell out of control of Qaddafi’s forces. While there were protests in other parts of Tripolitania (which includes both Misrata and the Nafusa Mountains), they were quickly quashed by Qaddafi’s men, with the exception of Az Zawiyah, which resisted for the better part of a month before falling, being largely destroyed in the Process. However, the rebels in many of the larger towns and cities under Qaddafi’s control have adopted guerrilla tactics against Qaddafi’s men, with hit-and-run attacks against checkpoints not being uncommon.
Aside from the NATO-Arab League-Sweden coalition, other nations have been involved. Fighting 1-2 weeks ago spread into Tunisia, while Algeria has been supplying Qaddafi forces, and the Polisario Front of the Western Sahara have been fighting on Qaddafi’s side. This could hurt the Polisario front, as they could now be seen as little more than a puppet of Algeria, used to advance their governmental and territorial interests by force.
The battle for Misrata has taken a turn for the better in the past 5 days. While the rebels in the city had managed to lessen the siege, they hadn’t been able to break it. That changed on May 11th, when the side of the front broke through and took the Dafniya from Qaddafi forces. At the same time, forces around the airport, started to surround it, trapping the Qaddafi troops there in a salient. On the 12th, this pocket was taken, and since then, the rebel forces are advancing in all directions. The Siege of Misrata was broken internally. (Maps of the progress from May 10th to May 15th are below, created by FunGuerillaz on Twitter.) On the Nafusa Front, the there is continued shelling, which is making for a tenuous situation in the towns of Jadu and Yefren, with a possible humanitarian crisis imminent because of a lack of supplies. Meanwhile, in the east, only minor hit and runs are occuring, and the Brega-Adjabiya line has not moved since mid-April.
A High-Ranking British Officer called for upping the ante on Qaddafi by attack infrastructure. This is the first qualm I’ve had during the intervention. I do not want the Interim Government to pay for the rebuild of large amounts of infrastructure, such as bridges and electrical stations. The interim goverment is going to have a hard enough time rebuilding the cities of Misrata and Az Zawiyah, and to add more to the pile will strain them even more. Also, the Arab League has decided to ban the transmission of Libyan State TV on their satellites, which limits its range. Tunisia also arrested more than 200 Qaddafi troops attempting to go through Tripoli to attack Wazzin, a border post held by the Berbers. In addition, Tunisia arrested 2 Al-Qaeda members (One Algerian, One Libyan) trying to get explosives into the nation. Also, several hundred refugees in boats have been rescued by both Tunisia and Italy. In addition, oil is beginning to run out for civilians and troops on Qaddafi’s side. As a last piece of information, this the map of action in Libya as of today, created by the twitter user LibyaMap
This will be the longest post in a series that will go daily until the war ends. If I can manage it.