Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, March 2011
Qaddafi Forces and Revolutionary Fighters Alternate Dislodging Each Other in Libya's Oil-Export Area
, March 13, 2011
The Qaddafi dictatorial regime forces have dislodged the revolutionary fighters from the oil-export area of Buraiqa (Brega) last night. However, the revolutionary fighters fought back, surrounding the Qaddafi forces, ambushing them, and inflicting more than twenty deaths on them as well as capturing dozens more of them.
The revolutionary fighters have taken Buraiqa back but lost Ras lanouf and Bin Jawad, as they did on March 10. It seems that both sides are alternating control over Libya's oil-export area.
Apparently, the Qaddafi land forces are supported by air and naval power, while the revolutionary fighters only have their machine guns and some rockets. They need heavy weaponry, particularly anti-aircraft missiles.
The city of Misrata is still besieged by the dictatorial forces but without being able to enter it. The revolutionary city of Al-Zawiya, west of Tripoli, is being attacked on daily basis by the dictatorial forces. However, the revolutionary fighters have repelled the Qaddafi forces every time but with heavy losses.
CAIRO, March 12, 2011 (Xinhua) --
The Arab League (AL) on Saturday decided in an emergency meeting to urge the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone on Libya to protect the citizens.
The AL held the emergency meeting in its Cairo headquarters at the ministerial level on Saturday to discuss the serious situation in Libya with a no-fly zone proposal on the agenda.
In a statement released after the closed-door meeting, Arab foreign ministers called on the UN Security Council to take its responsibility toward imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and provide safe area to protect the Libyan people.
This decision came as a regional endorsement of a no-fly zone, which was demanded by Libyan rebel forces amid continuing fighting against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year old rule.
The decision was welcomed by all Arab countries except Algeria and Syria, according to an Arab diplomatic source.
The statement said ministers decided in the session to open communication channels with Libya's rebel Transitional National Council based in Benghazi.
The ministers appealed to the international community to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the Libyan people.
AL general secretary Amr Moussa said in a press conference after the meeting that the decision was a precautionary and humanitarian measure to protect the Libyan people, adding it was not to give a license to any foreign military intervention.
"If the Libyan regime accepts the no-fly zone decision, there won't be any kind of deterioration of the conflict, and we don't expect that Libya will refuse the UN resolution," said Youssef bin Alawi, the Omani foreign minister who chaired the meeting.
Security Council's action will be protective and will end when the Libyan crisis is resolved, bin Alawi added.
The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which are also members of the AL, were in favor of imposing the no-fly zone. They described Gaddafi's leadership as "illegitimate" on Thursday and called for dialogue with the Transitional National Council.
"The communication and cooperation with the Libyan transitional council is regarded as an acknowledgement of legitimacy," Moussa said.
In his opening speech, bin Alawi urged Arab nations to interfere before the situation aggravates to the worst, saying rapid action from the Arab states is required to avoid more bloodshed in Libya in accordance with the international legitimacy.
Catherine Ashton, EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said on Saturday she will meet AL Moussa on Sunday to discuss the situation in Libya and the wider north African region.
Ashton emphasized the importance of a "collaborative approach" with the AL.
On Feb. 22, the AL suspended Libya's participation in its future meeting and affiliated bodies after the bloody clashes swept the country since Feb. 16, until Libya authorities respond to people's demands.
The UN Security Council on Feb. 26 unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo against the Libyan authorities and travel ban and asset freeze directed at Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his key family members.
Gadhafi forces drive rebels from key oil town
By PAUL SCHEMM and ZEINA KARAM Associated Press
Mar 13, 2011, 7:03 PM EDT
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) --
Moammar Gadhafi's forces swept rebels from a key oil town Sunday with waves of strikes from warships, tanks and warplanes, closing on the opposition-held eastern half of Libya as insurgents pleaded for a U.N.-imposed no-fly zone.
Gadhafi's troops have been emboldened by a string of victories in the struggle for Libya's main coastal highway but their supply lines are stretched and their dependence on artillery, airstrikes and naval attacks makes it hard for them to swiftly consolidate control of territory, particularly at night.
The insurgents claimed they moved back into the strategic town of Brega after dusk in a fast-moving battle with a constantly shifting front line, destroying armored vehicles and capturing dozens of fighters from Gadhafi's elite Khamis Brigade.
The United States sent U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton to meet with rebel leaders in Paris on Monday as world powers consider trying to ground Gadhafi's air force.
The Obama administration and other governments have expressed deep reservations about a tactic that would require them to destroy Gadhafi's air defenses and possibly shoot down his planes. The Arab League raised the pressure on the U.S. and its NATO allies on Saturday by asking the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone, but a day later they appeared no closer to taking action.
"This was a rare decision of the Arab League," rebel spokesman Abdul Basit al-Muzayrik told Al-Jazeera. "We call on the international community to quickly make a firm decision against these crimes."
The poorly equipped and loosely organized rebel fighters said throughout the day they were fleeing the oil town of Brega under heavy attack, losing a vital source of fuel for their vehicles and leaving Gadhafi's military less than 150 miles from the main opposition city of Benghazi.
A spokesman for Gadhafi's military declared it had seized control of the town and was "dealing with the situation."
It was impossible to independently confirm either side's account because it has become too dangerous for reporters to operate in the contested area.
Ajdabiya is the only other major population center between Gadhafi's forces and the rebel headquarters. If his successes continue, the Libyan strongman will soon face the choice of consolidating his control of the Mediterranean coast or moving swiftly toward Benghazi and the prospect of a devastating battle.
"Benghazi doesn't deserve a full-scale military action," army spokesman Milad Hussein told reporters in the capital, Tripoli. "They are a group of rats and vermin and as soon as we go in, they will raise their hands and surrender."
Gadhafi's navy, army and air force began pounding Brega with artillery, rockets and bombs Sunday morning and didn't let up all day, forcing doctors and wounded people from the town's hospital with a missile strike, several rebels told The Associated Press after fleeing.
"There wasn't any time to breathe, to do anything," one fighter with responsibility for logistics said by telephone as he fled Brega for Ajdabiya, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) by road to the east. Explosions went off in the background.
Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, he said the opposition was bracing for conflict in Ajdabiya by evacuating doctors and the wounded from there, too.
He said some rebels had gathered in a seaside village a few miles east of Brega, hoping to halt Gadhafi's forces. He said more fighters from rebel strongholds in the east were heading to Ajdabiya to prepare for a battle there.
The rebels were trying to secure the southern and eastern roads to Ajdabiya and storing provisions and weapons there after the loss of free access to gasoline in Brega.
"I think they are bombing heavily because they want to win time before a no-fly zone is imposed," the rebel shouted over the phone.
An opposition leader in Ajdabiya said the rebels planned to retake Brega and were attacking Gadhafi's forces with guns and roadside bombs as they moved in reinforcements from government-held cities in the west.
Another rebel said that after their initial defeat, opposition forces destroyed armored vehicles and captured dozens of fighters from Gadhafi's elite Khamis Brigade, driving others back into Brega's airport.
A fourth opposition fighter told The Associated Press by telephone that celebrations had broken out in the nearby city of Ajdabiya, and celebratory gunfire, honking and shouting could be heard in the background.
"We are on our way to Brega to celebrate with our brothers there," he said.
However, about an hour later he said Gadhafi's forces had pushed the rebels back to a town called al-Ojela, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of Brega.
The rebels fighting to oust Gadhafi from power after more than 41 years were inspired by protesters who toppled authoritarian rulers in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt. A week ago they held the entire eastern half of the country and were charging toward the capital, Tripoli.
Then Gadhafi's troops began reversing those early gains with superior weaponry and firepower from the air.
With much of the fighting in the east taking place along the coastal highway bounded by strips of desert, there are few places for the rebels to take cover, forcing them to withdraw under fire before attempting to surge back.
On Sunday, Gadhafi's forces also appeared to edge closer to Misrata, battling rebel fighters on the outskirts of Libya's third-largest city, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli, residents reported.
One resident, who did not want his name used because he fears for his safety, said streets inside the city were empty as people took cover in their homes and the noise of tanks, anti-aircraft fire and machine guns grew ever nearer.
He said several tank shells had struck inside the city, hitting a mosque and an apartment building.
Karam reported from Cairo. Hadeel al-Shalchi in Tripoli and Diaa Hadid in Cairo contributed to this report.
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