Qaddafi’s air force ferries fresh troops for Tripoli
Hours after the UN Security Council unanimously imposed sanctions on Col. Muammar Qaddafi and his regime, his reactivated air force was flying army and tribal reinforcements from the south and landing them at the military airfields of Tripoli, Misrata and Sirte. debkafile's military sources report. Sunday night, Feb. 27, men were immediately deployed at the main road intersections leading to the capital.
This move at the current stage of Libya's civil war lessens the military significance of the rebels' reported takeover of towns around Tripoli, including Al Zawiya to the west, from which Qaddafi's forces pulled back to guard the main road to Tripoli.
For now, the rebels face four main difficulties:
1. They lack organized military strength to stand up to Qaddafi's professionally-trained and equipped soldiers. This imbalance can only be offset by a mutiny in the army's ranks or assassination.2. Instead of digging in and consolidating their control of the eastern part of the country after its capture, the rebels went after Tripoli in order to topple Qaddafi. Sunday night, this goal looked unattainable.
3. They have rejected US and European offers of military assistance in the strongest terms warning that if foreign troops intervened they would redirect their guns from Qaddafi on the interlopers.
4. The rebels are fighting without air cover, while Qaddafi's forces command enough air power and air fields in the south to keep up a steady flow of fresh fighting men in his support.
Early Sunday, Feb. 27, US President Barack Obama called on Libyan ruler Col. Muammar Qaddafi to leave now, having lost the legitimacy to rule since "his only means of staying in power is to use violence against his own people," and the UN Security Council's 15 members unanimously slapped down wide-reaching sanctions on members of his family and regime commanders, calling for an immediate International Criminal Court probe of Qaddafi, his seven sons and daughter and military commanders, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In Libya, former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil has established a provisional government in Benghazi.
President Obama, having issued his statement after a long telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, cannot expect Qaddafi's removal to be easy or quick. American, European and possibly Arab forces may need to enforce the Security Council resolution because, unlike Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, the Libyan ruler, according to debkafile's military and Middle East sources, is not about to go willingly.
He was fully prepared militarily for the challenge of popular dissent to his rule by creating a well-armed and trained paramilitary force of 20,000 loyal troops outside Libya's conventional army. He also laid up a war chest of many billions of petrodollars stashed out of reach of sanctions enforcers.
Living under the pressure of sanctions is not a new experience for Qaddafi who survived them for 20 years of his 41 years in power over his sponsorship of international terrorists. He also withstood an American bombardment of his residence in April 1986.
By dismantling and passing to Washington his nuclear weapons program in 2003, the Libyan ruler won another eight years in power. He believes he can escape international and American ire once again, although for the first time he has lost half his country and Western armies may appear on his doorstep at the invitation of the transitional government of Cyrenaica. Libya's final chapter under Qaddafi rule is still to come.