UPDATE: Libya Up-Date from London: Second Day of Action: Again the Question What Next?

It is mid-day Sunday in London and the British have said that the strikes overnight were “successful.”  The U.S. remains in command of the coalition operations but with an integrated staff with full UK and likely French integration and participation.  This leadership will be turned over to the Europeans shortly.

More attacks tonight are likely.

The French have announced that their aircraft carrier has left Toulon for waters near Libya.  This action was taken after the U.S. said that the “no-fly” zone had been established.  This means t hat the Libyan air force would not likely be able to undertake an effective attack.

The British planes have flown from British bases some 3,000 total miles last night in a series of attacks and their ships are on station near Libya.  British planes Typhoon and Tornado planes are moving to Southern Italian bases.  But Italian forces have not joined in providing forces only bases.

The U.S. sent some 19 fighter planes in night raids and attacked with Tomahawk missiles aimed at defense systems. The morning evaluation of those attacks was positive.  Fresh attacks are being undertaken as I write this mid-day in London.

However report this morning of heavy gunfire and shelling against the rebel held city of Misrata which appears to be under concerted attack by Gaddafi forces with much killing. Reports are coming from that city of widespread destruction and killing. Some report says the city has largely fallen to Gaddafi forces.

Pictures are being shown of much destruction of Gaddafi’s forces outside the city but with also much battle going on between the rebels and government forces. The pictures show destroyed tanks and trucks.

It is likely that a wider range of NATO and perhaps non-NATO nations will join in some from in this operation.

The Russians are now asking the coalition forces to stop non-selective use of force.  This is indeed a strange action on their part and clearly will only anger not only the allies but also many Arab countries and Libyan rebels and citizens.

THE LONGER-TERM

Attention here is starting to focus on the immediate question of how to protect and provide assistance to the rebel forces and the need for those forces to be able on their own to not only protect their present bases but also take the offensive given that the U.N. resolution said there should not be an “occupation” of Libya.

Officials and experts here in Europe are asking what should be the next stage and especially the recognition that no matter what the immediate actions that Gaddafi and his regime can’t remain in power in the end of the operation if it is to be fully successful in establishing a stable and representative new government.  The coalition leaders and the media here are asking what is the best path for not only defeating Gaddafi but also of putting in place a new government.  The French have given a kind of recognition of the National Council in Benghazi and the question is whether other nations will follow.

The other question is how to arm the rebel forces and how this can be done under the terms of the U.N. resolution. The other question is the role of the Arab nations. The Western coalition forces would like to see Arab forces involved and especially playing some kind of role on the ground.  This is perhaps the most opaque element in the strategy. Also given the control over some cities Gaddafi has taken and his stronghold in Tripoli. Military experts here are hoping that Gaddafi’s military will turn against him and speed up the end game.

Yet many others are very concerned, given Gaddafi’s stance and his statement that this will be “a long, drawn-out war” that conflict could go on for months even years.  Also everyone here is talking about the cost of the operation given the budget crisis in most European governments.

One question is the implication of this action for other nations in the Arab world and indeed the implications for other situations in which dictators start a process of killing their citizens on a massive scale.

One thought on “UPDATE: Libya Up-Date from London: Second Day of Action: Again the Question What Next?

  1. Harry C. Blaney March 21, 2011 / 8:47 AM

    This Monday morning in London the reports are of devastation of front line Gaddafi army tanks and other equipment and of their air defense systems in the second day of attacks. Air attacks are said to be “very effective” by the coalition.

    The issue of who is in charge seems still to be uncertain with NATO, due to a Turkey veto, not able to fully use its planning/command structure. America is still in central command but France and Britain are ready to take over and the U.S. would want to hand off to either power as soon as possible.

    The rebel forces are moving towards Tripoli but frankly this is still a long process with great uncertainty ahead. Rebel forces are still untrained and not always effective against an professional army. The hope remains to have Gaddafi’s forces to turn against him. There are so many elements which are not clear including to what extent the allied forces can support the rebel advance.

    Also some are asking if the end game is a divided Libya between the regions. Yet the end goal, never fully said because of the wording of the U.N. resolution, is to remove Gaddafi, since with him most beleive peace would never be fully possible.

    More focus is now being given to the question of the political ends of all these actions.

    The House of Commons will be voting today formally on the Libyan action and there is little doubt they will support the action. There is some concern over costs and possible growing involvement.

    The coalition is still hoping for support of some Arab governments. Their involvement is seen here among some as key to keeping unity of purpose and its broad support.

    Also there is concern over unrest and violence in other Arab counties including Yemen. It is hoped that Qatar would be the first Arab nation to contribute to the military side of the Libyan effort.

    Given that there is not yet a clear path to the end, there is a debate among the coalition about how far and to what extent to act and when. The French seem to be most active in support of the rebel forces especially in Benghazi and going west.

    In any case most of the coalition forces have now move to airbases closer to Libya with faster response to any situation. They have established a blockade against weapons coming in to Gaddafi. It seems however that Gaddafi forces are still carrying out offensive actions in a number of Libyan cities according to news reports.

    A major action and mass killing of woman and children by Gaddafi forces appear to be still taking place in Misurata.

    People are starting to again focus on what kind of gpovernment will arise if indeed Gaddafi’s regime falls. The National Council in Benghazi is made of of young professionals but a clear leadership element of a new government is highly uncetain at this time.

    Please do add your comments!

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