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Gaddafi loyalists advance while foreign powers debate action


Fierce fighting is continuing in the east of the country, particularly in the oil town of Brega, which is some 220 kilometers south of the rebel’s stronghold of Benghazi. We are receiving conflicting reports that rebels are saying they are in control of the town, but Libyan state television is reporting exactly the opposite. What is possible is that these government troops have retreated from the town, they are regrouping and they will re-strike, which has been a strategy elsewhere.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Gaddafi’s men are making advances, with the ultimate destination of Benghazi in mind. There are also growing concerns among those rebel groups of Gaddafi sleeper cells. These are men who are armed, they are keeping a low profile and the fear is that when they feel there is a sizeable presence of Gaddafi’s soldiers in a town, they will come to the front and they will take to the streets and fight.

The international community at the moment is meeting in Paris. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is holding discussions with the leadership of the opposition here in Libya. She is there and there is also a G8 summit meeting which is underway. They are expected to reach some decision on an international response to what is happening here in Libya. The question of no-fly zone, whether or not they will give a green light to this. But certainly the feeling is growing that France has acted prematurely by recognizing the Libyan opposition as the legitimate voice of this country. Particularly when you see that Gaddafi’s forces are making advances on the ground.

It raises questions in terms of if Gaddafi had to remain in power how would France behave and in fact how would the international community behave. This is the international community that has denounced them. How in fact would they talk to him if he had to stay in power? If though Gaddafi had to go, there are also real concerns there is a vacuum of power that would remain. It is not clear in terms of the opposition who would come to the front. You need to remember that the opposition are ill-equipped, they are ill-trained, they are not united and there are many questionable people within their ranks. In fact the only unifying call we are hearing is from the opposition themselves. They are saying that by the time the international community decides what it wants to do, the situation here might already be over.


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