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Coalition Air Strikes on Libya

Coalition Air Strikes on Libya
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Libya roundup: this past week

  • In an important development, the Libyan ambassador was expelled from the UK.
  • Gaddafi's son and three grandchildren were killed in a NATO bombing in the capital city. Despite strong allegations, NATO refuses to admit that the strike was aimed at the Gaddafi's life.
  • The UN has said that Libya is going to face a severe food crisis in the next two months.
  • The Swiss government has shown proof that Gaddafi had stashed away large amount of wealth in the Swiss banks.
  • NATO seems to have done more harm than good, and the public sentiment in Libya is slowly turning against what was originally seen as an ally.
  • An intense war has broken out in the western mountains, and overall, Libya is getting out of control.

Casualties: There are no reliable figures available, but is it believed that anywhere between 4,000 to 8,000 people have died in this conflict.

Early developments

After the monarchy in Libya was overthrown in 1969, Col Muammar Gaddafi took control as the leader of the country. While Libya has a high literacy rate, the widespread corruption and oppressive political system never went well with the general public. The economic progress has also been dismal, and much of the country's oil wealth has been utilized for purchasing arms and developing military strength.

The early protests began in the city of Benghazi, on the issue of the Abu Salim prison massacre in Tripoli. In the month of January, protests broke out in the cities of Darnah, Bani Walid, and others. In February, Gaddafi warned the opposition leaders to give up the protests or face the consequences.


Mid-February: On 15 February, the protesting group in Benghazi was broken up violently by the police. This enraged the protestors, who hit back on the forces. Tension escalated as it was reported that Gaddafi had hired African mercenaries to counter the protests. Various countries also issued a travel warning to their citizens.

Late February: On 24 February, the opposition forces took control of Tobruk, where the Libyan flag used to be hoisted. At the Misurata airport, the government forces fired live ammunition on the protestors. On 26 February, former justice minister Mustafa Mohamad announced an interim government and started arming the civilans.

Early March: Protests spread to other part of the country, like Bin Jawad, Tripoli, Zawiyah. The Rebels captured Brega and started minor celebrations. Meanwhile, the international community was mulling bans on Libya.

Mid-March: The crackdown by the government forces intensified and the important capital city of Tripoli was retaken. In Brega too, the opposition forces had to retreat, but there has been no conclusive advantage to either side.

Current scenario

There has been widespread criticism of Libyan policies towards its own criticisms, and the recent developments have only bolstered that stand. The G8 is meeting soon to decide on a no-fly zone over Libya, and there is a possibility of sanctions also. Almost all the citizens from other countries were evacuated by their respective governments once it became clear that the situation in Libya was getting out of hand.

Drone strikes working; Misrata declared free
25.4.2011: Tripoli, Monday 6:32 am (PST: Sunday 8:32 pm - GMT: Monday 4:32 am)

The US drone strikes in Libya have done the damage. According to the latest reports, drone attacks in the capital city of Tripoli have struck three government buildings, damaging them badly. One of these is believed to be Gaddafi's stronghold for government meetings.

Also, the city of Misrata saw the rebels emerging victorious after the Gaddafi forces were forced to retreat. Reportedly, the pro-Gaddafi forces suffered heavy damage to their tanks and other weaponry. With the involvement of the US becoming more direct, the recent developments will certainly boost the confidence of the flailing rebels of Libya. Rescue operations in Misrata
19.4.2011: Tripoli, Tuesday 6:40 am (PST: Monday 8:40 pm - GMT: Tuesday 4:40 am)

The international efforts are now being directed toward rescuing the people from the devastated city of Misrata. Reportedly, Gaddafi's forces continue the heavy shelling of the city, resulting in severe loss of life. Britain has said that the Libyan government has promised it access to the city under fire, but has made no comment on ceasing the crackdown.

Rebels under heavy fire
18.4.2011: Tripoli, Friday 10:50 am (PST: Monday 00:50 am - GMT: Monday 8:50 am)

According to the latest reports, the rebels have successfully defended their position at Ajdabiya, following a menacing assault by the government forces. This abrupt turning of tables was made possible by a sandstorm on Saturday night, which made air strikes impossible. It was when the rebels came under heavy fire and had to retreat, giving up a key installation at Brega in the process. Day by day, the rebels are weakening, and one wonders whether NATO has any definite solutions to this conflict.

(Some of the) NATO allies vow to vanquish Gaddafi
15.4.2011: Tripoli, Friday 7:02 am (PST: Thursday 9:02 pm - GMT: Friday 5:02 am)

NATO is in a tight spot. It did take over the Libyan conflict, but has so far done little more than accidentally bomb the rebels. And now for its members: Only a handful of the total 28 are participating in the war. According to a latest news, NATO says it is short on warplanes, but remains "hopeful".

Earlier today, France and Britain released a joint letter, reaffirming their intention to wipe out all traces of Gaddafi. If only the other nations shared even a fraction of this zeal, the task for the allies was cut out in Libya. As of now, however, it's still a see-saw that favors nobody.

Qatar secretly backing Libyan rebels
14.4.2011: Tripoli, Thursday 2:02 pm (PST: Thursday 2:02 am - GMT: Thursday 12:02 pm)

Yes, you heard that right! In a crucial revelation, it has come to the fore that Qatar has been secretly helping the Libyan rebels against the regime. There has a been constant stream of the French anti-tank Milan missiles being shipped from Qatar to Libya, possibly via sea. Perhaps this explains the many tanks reduced to rubble in the past days.

When contacted, the Qatari officials weren't too vocal about this, but said that they sympathized with the innocent people of Libya. The UK has too endorsed this point of view, expressing the need for more conclusive action in Libya. Watch out, Mr Gaddafi!

Crawling toward a solution finally?
14.4.2011: Tripoli, Thursday 7:00 am (PST: Wednesday 9:00 pm - GMT: Thursday 5:00 am)

The increasing pressure by Britain and France over the future of the Libyan conflict has led the NATO member countries to call for a two-day meeting starting today. The major issue will be how the overall plan of Libya's civil war is to be handled among the NATO nations.

The yesterday's meeting at Qatar has resulted in the world powers agreeing to provide financial assistance to the rebels of Libya. A noble step, no doubt, but not enough: it would be worth recalling that Gaddafi himself has done nothing but stockpiled huge wealth at the expense of Libyan oil reserves. Something entirely different needs to be done if the "mad dog of middle east" is to be jettisoned for good.

Libya's future to be pondered today
13.4.2011: Tripoli, Wednesday 9:32 am (PST: Tuesday 11:32 pm - GMT: Wednesday 7:32 am)

An international conference is scheduled in Doha today to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing Libyan conflict. This Libyan Contact Group, comprising international delegates and Libyan representatives, will also see UN secretary general Bank Ki-Moon attending the meeting. From the Libyan side, foreign minister Moussa Koussa will be joining. This follows after a day of heavy shelling in the city of Misrata, which saw 10 dead and 30 wounded.

Think before you act? Hopefully the so-called world elites will now get it right.

NATO faces the music again
12.4.2011: Tripoli, 1:42 pm (PST: Tuesday 3:42 am - GMT: Tuesday 11:42 am)

Britain and France are apparently unhappy with NATO. They say that NATO forces are "not doing enough" in Libya. Much of the resentment may be born from the fact that these two nations were the first to launch air strikes, while even now the long-drawn battle has yielded no result. But their sentiments are not without justification: Gaddafi's heavy weapons need to be annihilated if the rebels are to gain anything resembling bargaining power, let alone an upper hand. But the ground realities in Libya are not so easy to control... .

Rebels stay true to their name, reject AU proposal
12.4.2011: Tripoli, Monday 7:24 am (PST: Monday 9:24 pm - GMT: Tuesday 5:24 am)

The Libyan rebels have rejected the African Union's roadmap for peace and ceasefire, asserting that the plan has no consideration for Gaddafi's exit. As they see it, Gaddafi and his sons need to be ousted from Libya if any peace is to work out. In a statement released at Benghazi, the opposition said that they would not negotiate at this point, and would "die . . . or be victorious".

The NATO and France too are supportive of this view, and maintain that trusting Gaddafi to keep his promises is foolish.

Rebels tread with caution
11.4.2011: Tripoli, Monday 1:59 pm (PST: Monday 3:59 am - GMT: Monday 11:59 am)

Even as the African Union's proposal for peace in Libya was (too?) readily accepted by Gaddafi, the rebels have chosen to exercise caution. To understand why it may be so, here's a look at the salient points of the AU proposal:
  • Ceasefire effective immediately
  • NATO to stop air strikes
  • Security of foreign nationals in Libya
  • Unhindered humanitarian aid
  • Dialogue between government and rebels
None of these points helps the rebels' cause, actually. True, they are being mauled by pro-government forces, but for now the NATO offensive has provided teeth to their counter-attack. On Sunday alone, NATO destroyed 25 government tanks.

While the rebels have agreed to "study" the proposal, they maintain that Gaddafi's rule would have to end. And rightly so.

Gaddafi agrees to peace, strings attached
11.4.2011: Tripoli, Monday 7:11 (PST: Sunday 9:11 pm - GMT: Monday 5:11 am)

Muammar Gaddafi released an official statement today, agreeing to put an end to the ongoing conflict. According to this announcement, Gaddafi wants to stop all fighting and is ready to allow foreign troops into Libya for peacekeeping purposes. However, the million dollar question remains: Will Gaddafi step down? He is not required to do so at the moment, and is not likely to.

Which way is the Libyan crisis headed?

NATO admits mix-up
8.4.2011: Tripoli, 2:30 pm (PST: Friday 4:29 am - GMT: Friday 12:29 pm)

In a frank admission, NATO has said that it was indeed responsible for the misdirected air strike that damaged rebel tanks outside Brega. The official said that there was too much movement and confusion on the ground, which resulted in this mix-up. According to the rebels, 4 people have died in these attacks.

Mayhem in Ajdabiya
8.4.2011: Tripoli, 5:43 am (PST: Thursday 7:43 pm - GMT: Friday 3:43 am)

According to the latest reports, many rebel and civilian groups have fled the town of Ajdabiya after an air strike destroyed rebel armored units in the west. This might have been confusion on NATO's part, who said that heavy weapons are seen moving in all directions on the ground. Meanwhile, the US has said that the rebels in Libya can't oust Gaddafi on their own. Going by what has happened so far, one has to agree.

Fresh killings by security forces
7.4.2011: Tripoli, Thursday 2:24 pm (PST: Thursday 4:24 am - GMT: Thursday 12:24 pm)

In a fresh round of violence by Gaddafi forces in the city of Misrata, five people were killed and around 25 injured. The port of the city was also attacked, forcing it to close down temporarily. It must be noted that this port is the rebels' only connection with the outside world.

Meanwhile, it appears that Gaddafi had written a letter to the White House earlier. The contents of this letter, however, are not known.

Gaddafi forces using human shields
7.4.2011: Tripoli, Thursday 6:04 am (PST: Wednesday 08:04 pm - GMT: Thursday 4:04 am)

The NATO officials have said that the Gaddafi forces are hiding tanks and heavy ammunition in densely populated areas, which is making air strikes risky. They said that human shields were being used in cities like Misrata to ensure that NATO forces find it hard to spot the targets. Also, the forces are opening fire on the civilians, making the situation complicated.

NATO presence boomerangs
6.4.2011: Tripoli, Wednesday 6:22 am (PST: Tuesday 8:22 pm - GMT: Wednesday 4:22 am)

In a setback to the foreign intervention in Libya, the rebel leaders hit back on NATO this time. They accused them of failing to protect the citizens of Libya in the city of Misrata, saying that NATO is doing practically nothing even as Gaddafi's forces are choicely targeting the rebel strongholds and making them retreat. Even after so much of bombing in Libya, the situation remains unclear; indeed, one needs to ask how long this will go on. And if it does, there is one way this can end.

Gaddafi fallen from arrogance
5.4.2011: Tripoli, Tuesday 6:19 am (PST: Monday 8:19 pm - GMT: Tuesday 4:19 am)

In an official statement, a Libyan government spokesperson said that Muammar Gaddafi is ready to put an end to the war and introduce reforms. He said that Gaddafi is ready to bring in democracy and anti-corruption laws.

This clearly signals that Gaddafi might not be going anywhere, contrary to the expectations. One also wonders whether these promises are anything more than window dressing; after all, Gaddafi has built a certain reputation over the years.

Bitter medicine finally working
4.4.2011: Tripoli, Monday 2:37 pm (PST: Monday 4:37 am - GMT: Monday 12:37 pm)

The rebels have made fresh advance on the city of Brega, according to the latest developments. This seems to be another of those cyclical skirmishes the opposing groups have had for so long now - advancing and controlling a location only to later retreat. In any case, things are not bright for the rebels: the US is about to pull back from the air strikes, and Gaddafi's forces still remain far better armed. There are signs that Gaddafi might just be giving up, but all this can very well turn out to be a mirage.

Bitter medicine finally working
4.4.2011: Tripoli, Monday 8:09 am (PST: Sunday 10:10 pm - GMT: Monday 6:10 am)

Col Gaddafi is getting desperate. In a recent development, he sent one of his trusted ministers to meet the Greek prime minister. While the agenda is not known, it is being largely speculated that this is a signal that Gaddafi wants to stand down and begin talks for transition.

In another important happening, Saif Gaddafi, son of Col Gaddafi, has announced that he is ready to mediate for the Libyan crisis. He proposed that Col Gaddafi allow a smooth power transition through him, eventually leading to a democratic government. But as the reports go, this solution is unacceptable to the rebels as well as the untraceable Libyan leader.

Latest: International pressure steps up
29.3.2011: Tripoli, Tuesday 6:24 (PST, Tuesday 02:24 - GMT, Tuesday 10:24)

The meeting of international diplomats in London concluded with a unanimous sentiment - that the Gaddafi government had lost its legitimacy and should be pressurized more. For this, a "Libya Contact Group" has been created to hold regular meetings. Meanwhile, the government forces have reversed the rebels' advance and they are now being pushed eastward.

Rebels pushed out of Gaddafi's birthplace
29.3.2011: Tripoli, Tuesday 06:03 (PST, Monday 20:30 - GMT, Tuesday 04:30)

The rebels were beaten back quickly at the city of Sirte, according to reports. After a successful run pushing west, the rebels encountered stiff resistance at Umm el Ghindel, where Gaddafi had posted armed residents to counter the opposition. Heavy gunfire was heard in the area, after which the rebels quickly retreated to safety. This sends a clear message to the opposition that the days to come will involve a tough battle.

Rebels tightening the Noose
28.3.2011: Tripoli, Monday 13:38 (PST, Monday 03:38 - GMT, Monday 11:38)

As NATO approves the 'no-fly plus' plan, the rebels seem to be strengthening their hold over the region. After capturing Ras Lanuf and al-Brega, they are closing in on Sirte. It must be noted that Sirte is Gaddafi's birthplace and holds a special symbolic significance for the Libyan struggle. The rebels said that the coalition air strikes had helped them immensely as they had encountered little resistance in their advance westward.

Gaddafi Finally Losing Grip?
28.3.2011: Tripoli, Monday 05:53 (PST, Sunday 19:53 - GMT, Monday 03:53)

The rebel forces in Libya appear to have broken the stalemate and are now gaining ground. According to the latest reports, they are steadily moving westward, and are all set to take control of Ras Lanuf. Earlier, the important oil city of Brega was also conquered by the opposition. Meanwhile, air strikes continue in the skies of Libya and important Gaddafi strongholds are being bombed.

NATO to enforce "no-fly plus"
25/3/2011: Tripoli, Friday 06:36 (PST, Thursday 20:36 - GMT, Friday 04:36)

NATO members agreed yesterday to take over the control of no-fly zone over Libya. In the present arrangement, being termed as "no-fly plus", NATO will enforce the use of Libyan skies for only humanitarian purposes. But it has not been stated that whether the new enforcement can be used for military purposes or not.

Back in US, Obama is under fire for the presumably impulsive decision of invading Libya. The white house has defended the position, saying that the US intends only to pave way for Gaddafi's removal and helping the coalition forces restore order.

Critics unsure of coalition strategy
24/3/2011: Tripoli, Thursday 14:40 (PST, Thursday 04:40 - GMT, Thursday 12:40)

Critics are not sure of which way the attacks on Libya are going. As the situation stands, some fear that this may drag on for weeks, especially as the allies have no ground presence. According to the coalition sources, however, this will be a matter of only days not weeks. Also, they admit that while Gaddafi's position has been crippled substantially, he remains in a better position than the rebels.

Air Strikes continue on Thursday
24/3/2011: Tripoli, Thursday 06:57 (PST, Wednesday 20:57 - GMT, Thursday 04:57)

Now into the sixth day of air strikes, the coalition bombed the suburb of Tajura in Tripoli. The important city of Ajdabiya still remains partly in rebel's and partly in government's hands, if the reports from Libya are to be believed. The coalition have said that they are taking every possible care not to let civilian life disrupted by the bombings; however, government sources are repeatedly affirming that the air strikes have harmed civilians.

Even now, the future of Libya remains unclear. It must not be overlooked that despite the air attacks, Gaddafi's forces remain very powerful on the ground.

Gaddafi Holds on Despite Air Attacks
23/3/2011: Tripoli, Wednesday 14:55 (PST, Wednesday 04:55 - GMT, Wednesday 12:55)

The attacks on Libya have intensified as the Allies now focus on bombing the areas near the city of Misrata. In response, Gaddafi's forces launched a brutal counterattack on the rebel city of Zintan. There is confusion among the Allies as to who heads the invasion; at the same time, the political future of Libya, should Gaddafi fall, remains unclear.

Gaddafi addresses nation, sure of victory
23/3/2011 : Tripoli, Wednesday 05:50 (PST, Tuesday 19:50 - GMT, Wednesday 03:50)

Muammar Gaddafi appeared in one of the bombed sites at Tripoli and addressed the nation, asserting that in the end, he would be victorious. He urged the various "Islamic armies" to join him in the fight against the outsiders. According to the US sources, Gaddafi's forces have not moved even a bit because of the recent sir strikes. It remains to be seen how long this battle would be drawn, and what direct and indirect consequences it will have.

UAE Backs Libya Assault as Rebels Celebrate
Tripoli, Tuesday 12:59 (PST, Tuesday 02:59 - GMT, Tuesday 10:59)

The United Arab Emirates has welcomed the international effort to blunt Gaddafi forces' edge in Libya. According to an official statement, UAE is ready to send two squadrons to back the coalition efforts. It's the fourth day of bombing in Libya now, and the US sources have said that Gaddafi's advance has been halted. The rebels are celebrating in the city of Benghazi as the security forces were halted on the outskirts. Gaddafi has so far made no public appearance and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Libya, Tuesday 06:07 (PST, Tuesday 20:07 - GMT, Tuesday 04:07) It's now the third day into bombing Libya, and Barack Obama might just have jumped the gun with this decision. According to news sources, the Arab League is not happy with foreign intervention in Libya, and the US Congress has also raised objections against too hasty a decision. Obama, on his part, has been trying to reach out to the Arab League and has been saying that the attacks were not directed at the leader's life.

Libya, Monday 14:55 (PST, Monday 04:55 - GMT, Monday 12:55) According to the coalition forces, heavy bombardment by cruise missiles and air strikes have significantly crippled Gaddafi's forces. The whereabouts of Gaddafi are still not known as the attacks press home. Meanwhile, the people of Ajdabiyah have reported heavy damage to the buildings of the city. The government forces had earlier entered it with heavy weapons and armor and rebuffed the rebel attack.

Libya, Monday (PST, Sunday 20:02 - GMT, Monday 04:02) The coalition forces have now started targeting the Tripoli compound of Muammar Gaddafi. The intent was to cripple his military capabilities, one official said, and this was not an attempt on his life. Heavy bombing is going on in the important cities of Tripoli an Benghazi as the Royal Navy also joined the attack.

Libya, Sunday 11:00 (PST, Sunday 00:59 - GMT, Sunday 08:59) It's the second day now for the coalition forces in Libya. Gaddafi seems defiant even as American and British submarines fired over 100 precision missiles to take out the ruler's stronghold. The air strikes also continue, with the cities of Benghazi and Tripoli being heavily bombed.

Libya, Saturday 18:49 (PST, Saturday 08:49 - GMT, Saturday 16:49) The French president Nicolas Sarkozy has stated that the Western air forces are already active in Libya. He said that as part of their duty to enforce the UN's strike decision against Libya, the French planes are fighting the Gaddafi's army, ready to bomb their tanks if necessary. He harshly criticized Gaddafi's policies, and said that it was about time the civilian population was delivered from this oppression.

Libya, Saturday 10:53 (PST, Saturday 00:53 - GMT, Saturday 08:53) Despite the show of a ceasefire, Gaddafi's forces cracked down on the city of Benghazi. In one significant development, a fighter plane was shot down. It is not yet clear who controlled this plane, but the battle for the important rebel stronghold is gaining momentum. The international community also seems to be hesitating in attacking Libya, with Obama now saying no to a military strike.

Libya, Saturday 04:36 (PST, Friday 18: 34 - GMT, Saturday 02:34) Shortly after the United Nations sanctioned an armed strike against Libya, Muammar Gaddafi ordered a national ceasefire. However, this ceasefire appears to be one-sided as the rebels have openly declined any ceasefire and said that their struggle will continue. Gaddafi seems to be trying to appease the international community, and has invited world leaders to send inspection teams and verify the ceasefire.

Libya, Friday 14:19 (PST, Friday 04:19 - GMT, Friday 12:19) The UN sanction to declare Libya a no-fly zone finally met with approval earlier today, and now all commercial air traffic over Libya has been suspended. Also, France has promised a very quick military strike after the UN agreed for the same. According to the latest reports, people of Libya are celebrating these developments and hoping for a quick end of Gaddafi.

Libya, Friday 06:45 (PST, Thursday 20:41 - GMT, Friday 04:41) The United Nations has finally okayed a military strike against the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. This development comes after Gaddafi's forces launched an all-out offensive on the town of Bengzhai, swearing to clean out all the houses in the area. The US has indicated that a major air and naval strike will begin within hours. It is being expected that the NATO forces may also join the counter-strike.

Libya, Thursday 14:51 (PST, Thursday 04:45 - GMT, Thursday 12:45) The world leadership still stands divided over the no-fly zone issue over Libya even as Gaddafi's forces intensify their crackdown. The strategically important town of Ajdabiya saw heavy fighting by both the sides; the government forces as well as the rebels are claiming victory over this town. In a surprise move, the opposition deployed tanks, heavy artillery and a helicopter to fend off the government forces.

Libya, Thursday 06:38 (PST, Wednesday 20:32 - GMT, Thursday 04:32) Gaddafi's loyal forces clashed with the rebels in the cities of Misrata and Ajdabiya. After heavy bombardment, the government forces have taken control of some parts of eastern Libya. Ajdabiya is a strategically important city, and if the pro-Gaddafi forces manage to capture it, the base of protesting forces would come under direct fire.

Libya, Wednesday 15:34 (PST, Wednesday 05:31 - GMT, Wednesday 13:31) The Libyan unrest continues, and according to the opposition, the government forces fired shells on the protestors in Mistara earlier today. Meanwhile, the United Nations is still divided over the issue of declaring Libya a no-fly zone, and the whole world waits with baited breath to see the outcome of this violent uprising.