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Gadhafi ‘will destroy the Libyan people’

Outmanned and outgunned, anti-Gadhafi rebels say they need more help


 
'He will destroy the Libyan people'

Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Saturday night, rebel-held Benghazi shook with explosions from the air strikes and artillery of pro-Gadhafi forces. Homes on the city outskirts crumbled under the shelling. As plumes of smoke rose into the air and Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s tanks advanced, thousands fled eastward in fear for their lives. “Do we have to wait until Gadhafi kills us all before the world acts? We are very disappointed,” said Adel Mansoura, an air traffic controller escaping with his family. “When we heard the UN resolution, we were very happy and thought we had our freedom, but now we have been left on our own to the killers.”

Almost on cue, coalition fighter jets buzzed the road, firing missiles at Gadhafi’s forces. “If they had delayed by just six more hours, there would have been a massacre,” said Benghazi resident Munir Abdul Rahim, 42. “He came to the city with strong weapons—he was going to destroy the whole of Benghazi. His mandate is to kill the whole of Benghazi: men, women and children,” added Mounir el Adawan, 44, who had sat shuttered in his home. “These are the Gadhafi rules: to rule and control you, or to kill you.”

For now, Benghazi is once again in rebel hands. Outside the coffee shop on the city promenade, elderly men sit in the sunshine drinking cappuccinos and discussing politics. “Today is okay,” says Khaled Feitour, 44. “Now Gadhafi has forgotten Benghazi. He is frightened of the coalition forces. If he attacks, they will attack him. I don’t think he can come back.” There is a sense of relief and gratitude among the residents. “God and the French air force have saved us,” is the phrase repeated across town.

Monday night, an American pilot was welcomed with hugs as he stood stranded beside his crashed F-15 Eagle in a field near Benghazi. “We saw the plane fall in front of us and explode, and we saw the pilot coming down in his parachute,” says Younis Amruni, 27. “He was terrified. I walked up to him and hugged him.”

At the rebel checkpoint at the current front line, on the outskirts of the next town of Ajda­biya, there are signs that the violence and forced retreat of the week before have taken their toll. For weeks, bloody battles raged as the ill-equipped but zealous rebel fighters sought to push back Gadhafi loyalists. “Gadhafi has tanks and rockets that we don’t have,” says Capt. Ibrahim Younis, looking at Ajda­biya on the horizon. “Gadhafi killed a lot of our fighters—where there were 3,000, now we have only around 1,000,” says Masoud Bwiser, 36. The front line is a waiting game. Gadhafi’s forces hold their line, knowing they may again be hit by the coalition if they advance, while the rebels look to the skies for help to advance eastward toward Tripoli.

Indeed, Libya’s revolutionaries are pinning their hopes on greater coalition engagement. “We need the British and French to clear the road and then we can go further,” says Younis. “We are waiting for the air strikes.” On the ground, they remain a ragtag bunch. At one point, with no discernible strategy, small groups move six kilometres past the checkpoint, reaching the brow of a desert hill. They stand against the horizon waving Kalashnikovs. Minutes later comes the dreaded whistle of an incoming artillery shell or missile. It explodes in the nearby sand with a dull thud, sending the rattled rebels into retreat.

The lack of a disciplined military is all too clear. “We have no plan; we just go on like this. It is not a good thing, but we have no choice,” says fighter Masoud Bwiser, 36. Usually he runs a coffee shop and car wash. Mohammed Agori, 23, has come to the front line with only a knife. “My friend and I were drinking tea on the sand dune at the front. He asked me for some sugar, and then the rocket came in,” he laughs. There is some rancour in the rebel ranks toward the dissident members of the army who defected to the opposition. For weeks, they say, there have been unfulfilled promises that those soldiers will lead the front. “We were waiting for our army to come,” says Bwiser. “They have lied to us—they didn’t send the army.” Jammal Bennour, a member of the Benghazi governing council, concurs. “Our military forces have disappointed us,” he says. “It is a very bitter truth, but there are not enough military forces.”

Dissident Maj.-Gen. Ahmed al-Gatrani denies that defected members of the army are not playing a role. The army is organizing itself, and has already moved, he says. It doesn’t operate on the roads—the forces are in the desert, surrounding Ajdabiya. Whether this is optimism or reality is hard to know.

On Tuesday, the roads toward Ajdabiya were jammed with citizens pressing their faces against car windows to see Gadhafi tanks destroyed by the coalition. But this “Libyan Disneyland”—as one fighter called the scene—came with the conspicuous lack of weapons reinforcements to the front line. Indeed, both the rebels and Gatrani agree on one point: ammunition is dangerously low. “We are losing ammunition, and there is no new supply. Soon we will just be throwing rocks,” says Gatrani. “We are in real need of these supplies, for balance between us and the Gadhafi forces.” Without further help, he adds, “Gadhafi will destroy the Libyan people.”


 

Gadhafi ‘will destroy the Libyan people’

  1. .
    The whole thing has been a strange muddle from the start:

    1. the rebels were the very catalyst for G's brutal assault on civilians.

    2.Helping civilians entails supporting the rebels ('ALL necessary means to protect civilians')

    3.U.S. has quietly negotiated with G since '98.

    4.Obama egged on by England and France; this is one conflict Obama really did NOT want ('best revolutions are organic' -Obama. e.g. 'We're sitting this one out' Well, he's had his mind changed.).

    5.Intel shows, SURPRISE (Reuters is finally discussing)!! Gaddafi was not far from the truth about jihadist infiltrators in the East.

    6.What the hell will be the outcome of a new government (assuming G doesn't force a stillbirth before Tripoli)? A weird patchwork of malcontents, G-defectors, tribal interests/disputes/coalitions, military types, Al Qaida moles, iPad junkies, Madison-style all-the-right-words 'constitution' poetasters, and God knows what all…?
    .

  2. Hmmm, whom to choose a terrorist or terrorists? Is there any other better option?

  3. Hmmm, whom to choose a terrorist or terrorists? Is there any other better option?

  4. What is buddy doing sitting around drinking coffee? Me thinks he aught be at the front.

    If you start a revolt, but can't finish the job, & someone else has to come in and finish it for you, doesn't that give the nation that actually finished the job the right to rule?

    Ridiculous.

  5. What is buddy doing sitting around drinking coffee? Me thinks he aught be at the front.

    If you start a revolt, but can't finish the job, & someone else has to come in and finish it for you, doesn't that give the nation that actually finished the job the right to rule?

    Ridiculous.

  6. i pray to God to help these conflict to stop from getting worst..i hope G starting to realize what he should do to his government instead of killing his own people…G you need your people to help you build your country and also that Obama and the UN are trying to help you become a good leader instead of being the opposite..

    thank you,
    may God bless you all who read this comment of mine..

  7. i pray to God to help these conflict to stop from getting worst..i hope G starting to realize what he should do to his government instead of killing his own people…G you need your people to help you build your country and also that Obama and the UN are trying to help you become a good leader instead of being the opposite..

    thank you,
    may God bless you all who read this comment of mine..

  8. Western countries and US should not get involved in the Libya war, they have no business there. Libya is a muslim country, and hence muslim countries and other Arab countries to do more to stop the blood shed on both sides. Why do Western countries and US be spending millions of dollars on this war while their countries are struggling economically ; let rich Arab countries to do their part. i hope US and other Western countries would not involved sending soldiers over, it is not fair for them to fight in a foreign war, they are needed in their own countries.

  9. Western countries and US should not get involved in the Libya war, they have no business there. Libya is a muslim country, and hence muslim countries and other Arab countries to do more to stop the blood shed on both sides. Why do Western countries and US be spending millions of dollars on this war while their countries are struggling economically ; let rich Arab countries to do their part. i hope US and other Western countries would not involved sending soldiers over, it is not fair for them to fight in a foreign war, they are needed in their own countries.

  10. It looks like all the other Arab countries are having the same problem. If the West doesn't get involved and stabilize the region, the chaos might be a challenge for this globalized world.

  11. It looks like all the other Arab countries are having the same problem. If the West doesn't get involved and stabilize the region, the chaos might be a challenge for this globalized world.

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