Well, as the world has been discussing the idea of a no-fly zone over libya for the last two weeks, Moammar Gadhafi’s jets and artillery have begun to seize the initiative against the rebels, stopping, and now it appears, turning back their advance on Tripoli.
From the New York Times:
RAS LANUF, Libya — Rebel fighters fled this strategic refinery town on Thursday under ferocious rocket attacks and airstrikes by forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
The rout capped several days of fighting as bold plans of a westward drive to Tripoli by the undermanned and ill-equipped rebel army were dashed by the superior Qaddafi forces, which are seeking to retake several eastern oil cities that had slipped from the government’s control in the first days of the uprising. Heavy shelling here seemed to presage a final assault by government troops.
Under a steadily escalating barrage, hundreds of rebel fighters in dozens of trucks mounted with heavy weapons retreated east along the coastal road. In a chaotic scene at a checkpoint five miles east of town, fighters shot anti-aircraft guns randomly and ineffectually into the sky while arguing whether to flee or to try to establish a new defensive front.
This comes as the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told lawmakers that Gadhafi is likely to win the fight against the rebels.
From the Washington Post:
James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Gaddafi has consolidated his position in recent days and that his forces are far better equipped than the rebels, giving him a clear advantage.
“We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul,” Clapper said. “Right now, he seems to have staying power unless some other dynamic changes at this time.”
Something dynamic like a Western military intervention. If Western nations and their allies are serious about aiding the rebels, the time to act is now. This rebellion is at a turning point, Western governments need to make a choice one way or the other, ASAP. It may already be too late.