Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The long march of the insurgents

Libya reveals Italy. And the Italians. Reflected in the mirror Libyan periodically rediscover some of the characters that make us recognizable to ourselves and the world. Unfortunately not the best. The first time was a hundred years ago, when the "Great Proletarian" turned to the conquest of Tripoli and Cyrenaica.

And the truck loads of food and ammunition and automatic weapons, machine guns and rocket launchers, which they leave behind are concrete signs of a leak, and not a strategic retreat, as claimed by the spokespersons of Tripoli. In a few hours, when they fled Ajdabiya, the city seemed impregnable at one hundred and sixty kilometers from Benghazi, loyalist troops were forced to leave precipitously from Cyrenaica in the revolt, which were about to regain control.

The Shabab, the kids of rebel bands, came in late yesterday morning in Ras Lanuf, the important oil center, after having occupied Brega and two other smaller sites. More than a battle has been a run of at least three hundred kilometers. The coastal road seems to be that of a city at rush hour.

Columns of trucks and vans made in Japan run westward, carrying rebels who shoot in the air in victory, and now the most ambitious goal is the province of Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace, and where is his tribes' origin. When harbored big dreams, the colonel wanted to make the modest capital the capital of the United States of Africa.

If the soldiers were to leave, it would be hard for him in humiliation. This record, with accents apparently triumphant, must be accompanied by an analysis much less optimistic. However, lots of unknowns. The situation is reversed because the dynamics of coalition air operations, particularly the French and English, has changed.

Has deepened and intensified. The attacks are no longer as targets aviation and other military resources committed to attack or threaten the civilian population. This happened in general at the beginning of no-fly zone. Then they were targeted troops on the ground. And 'what happened to Ajdabiya.

Gaddafi's soldiers were holed up in the city with their tanks and kept at a distance with some rocket or mortar fire of the armed Shabab not enough to promote a true siege. The planes of the coalition have spoken and silenced with their missiles and artillery armored vehicles of Gaddafi.

Which I have been forced to abandon the city, where Shabab came when he was practically empty. Without the support of the French and British planes would remain glued to the doors of Ajdabiya. With their poor kalasnikov and some old machine guns could not do anything else. Far to the west, not far from Tripoli, in the port city of Misurata, a courageous group of shabab take head to Gaddafi.

The fate of the isolated town where you fight for weeks to take forward the Libyans of the two fields. From a few hours the French air discharging missiles on Gaddafi. Their support is directed to the Shabab, who deserve it. The interpretation of UN resolution leaves open a wide field of action.

The purpose of the no-fly zone is to protect civilians. But the entire military apparatus of Gaddafi is intended to suppress the popular uprising in February against the dictatorship of the dictator of Tripoli. So the activity of coalition air can, or must be implicitly extended to all the loyalist armed forces.

Including ground when not engaged against the civilian population. The new dynamic on the ground adopted by the French and English plays from the resolution of the Security Council at large. In short: to protect the civilian population must eliminate the military apparatus of Gaddafi. And that means putting out the same game Gaddafi.

Any negotiations should lead not only to removal of Qadhafi, his exile, and then put out his final game, but also the dismantling of what remains of his regime. As the successors, the children or the narrow tribal allies, they could easily start the reconquest of Libya lost, once it was no longer protected by the coalition, in a few hours under the direction of the NATO military.

The rebellion, which has its headquarters in Benghazi, needs time to create the necessary political structures and a military that can compete with that of Tripoli, although halved. A NATO spokesman has predicted that the no-fly zone could last three months. Sounds like a lot, but I do not seem to be sufficient.

Benghazi is counting on a more powerful coalition. Especially in the coming days and weeks, when his Shabab, approaching the cornerstones of Western Gaddafi, will face a resistance to the bitter end, and the commitment of Mirages, Rafales and Tornado, and American missiles, will be essential, as were the rest last week.

So far, the Civil War took place on the strip of land that stretches between the Mediterranean and the desert, on the rare cities far from each other often hundreds of miles. The battles fall from heaven like the Apocalypse. And spreads in a landscape empty for long stretches, the moon.

They are deadly and unreal. The reporter who has followed for decades the Arab tragedy, which told the story of Saddam greedy or generous, humane or enlightened, hated or loved, but still suffered by their people, hard to follow this coldly professional Arab insurgency. Although he learned to hate violence, as a cancer surgeon who care, he happens to see in the Shabab defenders in struggle against injustice and despotism.

Paladini messy, noisy and confused, often armed with only enthusiasm, marching on the long, endless road to Tripoli, where perhaps will never arrive.

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