Sunday, 17 April 2011

Libyan Rebels request help from NATO ground forces

Since my previous article the strategic situation in Libya has changed dramatically. After the miraculous defence of Benghazi by rebel forces ,the rebels pushed back Gaddafi loyalist forces out of the area for NATO aircraft to strike without fear of collateral damage and civilian casualties. After the initial "shock and awe" attacks by NATO air forces destroyed loyalist armour and aircraft out in the open, the situation on the ground quickly deteriorated for Libyan rebels. After a strong counter offensive by the rebels pushing Gaddafi's forces further west with NATO forces proving air support, Loyalist forces quickly reasserted their dominance in both organisation and equipment.

Currently Gaddafi's forces are besieging the Misrata, the last rebel held town in Western Libya. Rebel forces are being pushed back on all fronts in spite of NATO air strikes. This turn of events predicted by myself and a number of military analysts is turning into a disaster for Libyan rebels who were spurred on by NATO air strikes and also for NATO itself with Gaddafi's forces increasingly looking like emerging victorious. Large cracks are already appearing in the rhetoric and political position of NATO nations on the issue of Libya, the U.K and France are calling for more air strikes to be made mostly by aircraft of the United States while other nations are only in favour of the no-fly zone with no air strikes. What is not commonly understood is that only a fraction of NATO members are actually taking part in air strikes, with only 6 out NATO's 28 members are actually taking part in air strikes.

The situation in Libya has show the systemic problems without NATO both politically and within its command structure. Its very difficult for the different nations to decide on a course of action and like in Bosnia, there by not being able to provide any real assistance till its too late for far too many civilians. NATO and the United Nations need to be organisations who should install fear in those who would oppress their people or visit death on civilians and by doing so prevent dictators like Muammar Gaddafi from ever coming to power. Instead of this ideal situation where the people of the world could be free we have largely ineffectual organisations who are only taken seriously by nations not powerful enough to ignore them.

As I previously suggested ground intervention is the only way this war can end without either Gaddafi remaining in power or unacceptable civilian casualties on both sides. Despite earlier calls by the rebels for NATO to stay out of the ground war they are now calling for NATO ground forces to join the fight. 

"This reluctance and hesitation is allowing him  [Gaddafi] to suffocate the city. It's unbearable. It's getting to the point where it's troops on the ground – or it's over. We are so grateful and relieved by the international community's efforts, it's just that they didn't go the extra steps, and that has played into the tyrant's hands.
He [Gaddafi] will massacre the people of Misrata. If a massacre happens, [Nato's] credibility is on the line. Either they intervene immediately with troops on the ground – now, now, now – or we will all regret this. It's murderous and mad, the people of Misrata are paying the price."

The desperation in the language of the rebels shows how dire the straits are without intervention by NATO ground forces and that without help soon the Libyan rebellion will be crushed. Once again I fear that politics and bureaucracy of both NATO and the United Nations will not provide help in time and once again provide too little, far too late.

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