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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ex-colonizers aid Libyan Rebels Assault on Tripoli 'planned weeks ago';No easy transition, rebuilding after Gaddafi

Assault on Tripoli 'planned weeks ago'

Details emerge of rebel and Nato plans to oust Gaddafi, involving bombing, sleeper cells and special forces squads
By Richard Norton-Taylor and home
libya-tripoli-assault-plan 'Nato played a big role in liberating Tripoli.' Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian
Details of the rebel uprising in Tripoli are emerging, showing weeks of careful planning by rebels and their international allies before they seized the Libyan capital.

Rebel leaders had been hoping that the people of Tripoli would rise up against Muammar Gaddafi, but after a bloody crackdown crushed local opposition they began planning their own revolt.
The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.Image via Wikipedia
British military and civilian advisers, including special forces troops, along with those from France, Italy and Qatar, have spent months with rebel fighters, giving them key, up-to-date intelligence and watching out for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate the rebellion.

More details emerged yesterday of how Nato forces helped Libyan rebels storm Tripoli. "Honestly, Nato played a very big role in liberating Tripoli. They bombed all the main locations that we couldn't handle with our light weapons," said Fadlallah Haroun, a military spokesman who helped organise the operation, according to the Associated Press.

Prior to the attack, rebels smuggled weapons into Tripoli and stashed them in safe houses. Local revolutionaries were told that protests would begin after the Ramadan evening prayers on 20 August, a day that coincidentally marks the anniversary of the prophet Muhammad's liberation of Mecca.

Rebels organised a flotilla of boats from the town of Misrata in an operation dubbed Mermaid Dawn. Tripoli's nickname in Libya is mermaid or "bride of the sea". As sleeper cells rose up and rebel soldiers advanced on the city, Nato launched targeted bombings – methodical strikes on Gaddafi's crucial communications facilities and weapons caches.

An increasing number of American hunter-killer drones provided round-the-clock surveillance.

Covert special forces teams from Qatar, France, Britain and some east European states provided critical assistance, such as logisticians, forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as damage-assessment analysts and other experts, a diplomat at Nato's HQ in Brussels told AP.

Foreign military advisers on the ground provided real-time intelligence to the rebels, enabling them to maximise their limited firepower against the enemy.

To boost morale, US officials passed along snippets of intercepted telephone conversations in which Libyan commanders complained about shortages of food, water and ammunition, the New York Times reported. US officials told the paper that the rebel seizure of the oil refinery at Zawiya last week may have been the campaign's real turning point, cutting off Tripoli's fuel supplies.

As the regime collapsed, Gaddafi's aides called several Obama administration officials, including the American ambassador, Gene Cretz, and Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state to try to broker a truce, according to the Times. Officials said the calls were not taken seriously.

As rebel forces broke through the frontlines and approached Tripoli, locals were inspired to join them. The surge also forced government troops into the open, allowing allied warplanes to strike.

Gaddafi's forces attempted to hold off the rebels on Sunday by trying to outflank the rebels and recapture Zawiya. But Nato warplanes bombed the convoy before it could reach the city as part of a series of attacks on Gaddafi's forces, including bombing raids on bunkers set up in civilian buildings in Tripoli in an effort to ward off allied attacks.

The western advisers are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi's downfall. They have learned the lessons of Iraq, when the US got rid of all prominent officials who had been members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party and dissolved the Iraqi army and security forces.

The role of Nato is likely to continue to be significant. Its work could include humanitarian aid and logistical support for the UN. "The biggest caveat was 'Don't consider anything that would involve Nato forces on the ground'," said an official.

The North Atlantic Council, Nato's decision-making body, had agreed that any role for Nato had to "satisfy the criteria of a demonstrable need, a sound legal basis and wide regional support", said Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

Nato will continue to deploy strike aircraft, spy planes and unmanned drones over Libya but will not put any troops on the ground to help the transitional council maintain law and order, alliance officials made clear last night.

If any international organisation were to take on the task of a stabilisation force, it would be the UN, they said. "It is a classic case for blue helmets," said one official.

The North Atlantic Council has set out "political guidelines" for military planners who are now drawing up options. "Nato will help the UN if asked," said an official.There are many Nato countries that could work on the ground, given the extensive experience of post-conflict stabilisation in the Balkans. No Nato government official wants to compare Libya with Iraq or Afghanistan.

Nato aircraft flew 20,121 sorties, including 7,587 strike sorties, over the past five months, the alliance said yesterday.

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No easy transition, rebuilding as Libya braces for new era after Gaddafi


A picture of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi lies in trash as a Libyan stands guard outside the airport in Tripoli on August 24, 2011. (Xinhua/AFP)

CAIRO, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Despite fierce fighting between Muammar Gaddafi's forces and rebels in some areas of capital Tripoli and the unknown whereabouts of Gaddafi, Libya is set to brace for a new era after the rebels have claimed control of most of the country with the help of NATO's military operations.

The opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) is preparing to move its headquarters from Benghazi to Tripoli. More countries have recognized the legitimacy of the NTC and offered to help rebuild the war-shattered, oil-rich country.

It is a fact that the Gaddafi leadership has substantially crumbled, although the battle in Libya has not been completely over.

Analysts say Libya faces a tough road ahead in its political transition and reconstruction. Among the top challenges are the restoration of stability and power transition. Some even fear the post-war Libya may become another Iraq or Somalia.


Libya's rebels have offered a reward of two million Libyan dinars (about 1.3 million U.S. dollars) for anyone who turns in Gaddafi. The opposition says they will bring them to justice if they are captured alive.

On Wednesday, heavy fighting continued in some areas of the capital between Gaddafi loyalists and the rebels, While Gaddafi vowed death or victory in the fight against the "aggression."

Definitely, fleeing Gaddafi will not give up easily. No one could predict what he will do next amid fears of the possible use of chemical weapons. The rebels believe the final victory relied on the capture or killing of Gaddafi. Sirte remains under control of Gaddafi's troops. Thus concerns arise as to how long the battle will last between Gaddafi and the rebels.

These are key factors to affect the opposition's urgent agendas such as power transition and restoration of normalcy for citizens' life.

"Speaking about the future of Libya after Gaddafi, it is very difficult to predict any scenarios of situation," Akrm Houssam, researcher with the Cairo-based National Center of Middle East Studies in Egypt, told Xinhua.

"But what I can assure is we would not see any kind of stability or peace in Libya after Gaddafi, because I think the militia belonging to Gaddafi will continue some kind of civil war with the rebels. We will see another kind of conflict between the two fronts, " said Houssam.

"Some tribes supporting Gaddafi still refuse what the rebels do. I believe they will continue their resistance," he said. The members of these tribes inside Gaddafi's army may return to their tribes and form some small militia.

He warned of a repetition in Libya of what we had happened in Iraq after the disbanding of Saddam Hussein's troops after the 2003 war. Remnants of Saddam's army are believed to be behind some terrorist attacks leading to the fragile security situation of Iraq.

To make pro-Gaddafi tribes part of a new political process and include government troops into the new army to be built will help stabilize the situation, according to analysts.

But if pro-Gaddafi figures are punished, instability will prevail for some time, they predict.

"The change of a regime and society will not be a stable process. It is normal that more conflicts will come," said Hoda Regheb, professor of political science at Cairo-based Misr International University, in an interview with Xinhua.

One of the biggest challenges for the new government will be how to overcome tribal conflicts, said Regheb. She said it was genius for Gaddafi to keep all the tribes under his power for decades.

As is the similar case with Tunisia and Egypt whose presidents were toppled by protests earlier this year, security vacuum poses another threat to post-Gaddafi Libya. In Egypt, the lack of security and a sharp increase of various crimes after the fall of ex-President Hosni Mubarak have affected the country's pillar tourism industry and citizens' daily life.

It is urgent to establish professional police forces to protect citizens in Libya, said Sayed Mustafa, professor of political science at Cairo University, in an interview with Xinhua.

Foreign ministers of the Cairo-based Arab League countries stressed Wednesday the necessity to speed up actions for the stability, security and peace in Libya. In a statement, the ministers called on all the Libyan powers to adhere to tolerance and avoid revenge.

Meanwhile, the NATO has said it would not send ground troops to post-Gaddafi Libya. Both the NTC and the Libyan people will be against the presence of foreign troops, said Mustafa.


The rebel NTC chairman Abdel Jalil has said the country would have legislative and presidential elections in eight months. A democratic government and a just constitution will be established. To ensure a smooth transition, the NTC needs to overcome a number of political and social challenges.

"We have now a fully destroyed state, a state without institutions, government, stability or peace. The transitional council will deal with these problems," said Houssam.

"Especially, the transitional council is a group of some contradictory fronts. Whether the transitional council will remain united is the question, " he added.

Houssam wonders how the transitional council deals with al- Qaida which challenges Libya. Al-Qaida members united with others to overthrow the Gaddafi leadership. But after Gaddafi leaves, it will be hard for them to remain united on how to rule the nation, he said.

Libya is a typical tribal society. "To have a centralized government is very difficult," said Regheb. She warns of further collapse of the country if a federal government is formed.

Analysts hold that a federal state is possible for Libya. But the rights of oil will be bargained as the known oil reserves are located in certain areas, said Shady Abdel, another political analyst in Middle East studies. In Iraq, the regional or central governments have been negotiating the rights to export oil or make oil deals.

"Up till now, there has been no much agreement among Libya powers as to the political system, whether it is parliamentary or presidential, federal or not federal," Adel told Xinhua.

A key oil producer in Africa, the restoration of oil production will be vital to the rebuilding of the economy of the country with a population of around six million.

Western powers, European countries in particular, will pour more investment into the country, especially in the oil sector, say analysts, who believe the oil interests are the major reason behind the military intervention. So far, some Western powers have pledged aid to Libya.

Similar concerns are raised in this respect. The economic rebuilding needs stability. In Iraq, fragile security featuring frequent terrorist bomb attacks have hindered the pace of rebuilding eight years after the war.

If the political stability is achieved in Libya, economic rebuilding will be easier, said Adel.

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