See also:
» 29.01.2013 - Libya peace very fragile, warns UN
» 31.03.2011 - Libya's Foreign Minister defects
» 24.03.2011 - How cyber-activism lent savvy to North African protests
» 18.03.2011 - Ten nations ready to attack Ghaddafi regime
» 18.03.2011 - Africa defies AU chief's support for Ghaddafi
» 18.03.2011 - France: We can start bombing Libya tonight
» 17.03.2011 - Libya rebels shoot down fighter jets
» 15.03.2011 - Ghaddafi thanks Germany, Russia and China

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Politics | Human rights

"No-fly zone" or Libya to lie in ruins

US and Libyan protesters in front of the White House, demanding a no-fly zone

© "Wasime"/afrol News
afrol News, 6 March
- The Ghaddafi regime is determined to bomb Libya's cities, infrastructure and oil installations into ruins rather than giving them up. A "no-fly zone" is needed right now, Libyans demand.

Colonel Ghaddafi has made it clear he will not go anywhere - under no circumstances - and will use any possible means to remain in power.

Recent developments also show that he does not want to leave anything behind for the people of Libya, should he be forced to give up. In several statements, Mr Ghaddafi has made it clear that he himself has built the country during the last 42 years. His logical consequence is to leave everything "he" has built in ruins before anybody else can take over power.

This "philosophy" is now being put into practice.

During the last days, as the revolution has turned into a civil war, pro-Ghaddafi troops notably have attacked two main oil terminals in rebel-held eastern Libya: Port Brega and Ras Lanuf. A swift rebel retake so far has hindered massive destruction of oil installations.

But with the Libyan air force still mostly under Colonel Ghaddafi's control, bombing raids on infrastructure and civilians are a constant threat. Both Port Brega and Ras Lanuf have airports, which had made the airborne attacks on those two towns possible.

Libyan cities and their residents are even worse off. Even in rebel stronghold Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, there are occasional reports of air raids. On Friday, an arms depot in Benghazi was bombed - probably by a military airplane - killing at least 26 people and causing massive destructions.

Benghazi, far away from the front, is still relatively safe. "Liberated" cities and towns closer to Tripoli are more exposed to fierce, destructive attacks. Typically, airborne attacks here are followed by a land-based offensive.

Worst hit is Al-Zawiya, a rebel-held town only 50 kilometres west of Tripoli. Al-Zawiya for days has been under constant siege from the powerful Khamis brigade, headed by Colonel Ghaddafi's youngest son, supported by bomb raids from the Libyan air force.

In Al

The people of Benghazi are strongly against foreign land troops, but appeal for a no-fly zone

© Libyan Youth Movement/afrol News
-Zawiya, parts of the town are already in ruins as the mostly civilian rebels will not surrender. Tens, maybe hundreds, have been killed in the bitter fight. The Khamis brigade shoots indiscriminately at civilians and does not stop at destroying key infrastructure. If the town cannot be taken, it is to be destroyed, it seems.

On Sunday, pro-Ghaddafi troops followed the same tactics on Misrata, Libya's third largest city, located 200 kilometres west of Tripoli. Misrata was surrounded by land troops, backed up by the air force, trying to enter the city from three angles with tanks. The resulting street fights caused major damage and tens of civilian deaths. Even ambulances were shot at.

Also the eastern rebel forces, which during last week finally organised and started an offensive towards Tripoli, are feeling the massive arms advantage of the pro-Ghaddafi troops.

In a rebel offensive towards the key Ghaddafi-held city of Sirte, rebels first took the small town of Bin Jawad with support from local residents. Massive air attacks on the rebels, combined with a land ambush, forced the rebels to withdraw from Bin Jawad. Renewed battles on Sunday were indecisive.

Meanwhile, the long supply lines between rebel stronghold Benghazi and the front at Bin Jawad is constantly threatened by air attacks and ambushes from pro-Ghaddafi troops hiding outside major cities and towns.

The Libyan air force plays a key role in attacking civilians in this new phase of the Libyan rebellion. Libyan war planes and helicopters launch surprise attacks on mostly civilian targets in towns and cities taken over by the people. Further, they prepare for land-based attacks against civilians and play a key role in halting the rebel offensive that could put an end to the Ghaddafi regime.

"No-fly zone" must be put in place now
Libyan interim authorities - set up by the people in

Protesters in Tripoli last week, fleeing air-supported attacks

© Anomymous/afrol News
the "liberated" areas - and defected Libyan diplomats have for weeks called upon the international community to implement a no-fly zone over Libya, preventing the Ghaddafi regime from using its worst deadly force against it own people.

Civilians all over Libya report about the same destructions and killings by the air force. The unanimously urge Arab neighbours or Western powers to stop hesitating and talking and impose a no-fly zone.

Interim authorities in Benghazi, increasingly recognised internationally to represent the Libyan people, have issued strong-worded protests against a possible outside military intervention on the ground, fearing "a new Iraq" in Libya. Thry are also against economic sanctions, which could further victimise the Libyan people.

They however strongly urge for a no-fly zone over Libya.

In the US, in the Arab League and in Europe, there is a growing number of influential leaders advocating for a no-fly zone. As politicians are increasingly in favour of a no-fly zone, military US and European sources say they would be ready for such a move but indirectly warn against it.

A key statement was made by US Secretary of Defence Bill Gates, who late last week made it clear he opposes a no-fly zone over Libya, having in mind this was "a big country" that would call for "a big operation". Mr Gates reminded those in favour that "a no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defences."

Meanwhile, Benghazi authorities and Libyan civilians express their frustration over the unending talks and empty resolutions by the international community. They appeal for action right now - with a no-fly zone and, if necessary, attacks on Libyan aircrafts and helicopters not complying.

The longer the international community waits, the more Colonel Ghaddafi's strategy of destroying Libya before his inevitable downfall will succeed.

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