Turning Point In Libya?
Britian, the U.S. and their NATO allies appear to be trying to extend the pullout by Col. Muammar Gaddafi supporters from the center of Misrata over the weekend into a broader turning point in the six-week conflict in Libya.
Some analysts told Reuters that NATO has run out of "obvious" targets to bomb. NATO planners told the N.Y. Times that they are still plenty of communications infrastructure that will be demolished by airstrikes this week. Either way, NATO, which recently shelled a Gaddafi compound, appears to be getting bolder with its attacks.
That led to a denouncement on Tuesday by Russian Prime Minisiter Vladimir Putin, who said the West just wants to steal oil from Africa's fourth largest oil producer.
"They said they didn't want to kill Gaddafi. Now some officials say, yes, we are trying to kill Gaddafi," Putin said during a visit to Denmark. "Who permitted this, was there any trial? Who took on the right to execute this man?"
Experts said the NATO must achieve a psychological victory by convincing Gaddafi's millions of remaining supporters that his time in power is effectively over. Analysts told Reuters that Gaddafi insiders know the candle may be out in a few weeks, but the longer they can stay in power, the greater leverage they will have when it comes time to strike an exit deal.
Western nations have also been increasingly involved in helping Libyan rebels better plan and defend attacks. They could eventually be forced to directly supply weapons to the rebels too because their stocks are dwindling.
The entire picture isn't rosy. The Christian Science Monitor wrote from Benghazi:
Friends are starting to criticize one another over how little they're doing to help the movement. Fighters mock those who spend their time making posters rather than picking up guns. And the fact that much of Tripoli hasn't risen against Gadhafi, despite rebel efforts and major defections within the regime, worries some.
Residents here are preparing for months of fighting followed by years of rebuilding their country. Those who started the revolution never knew how it would end. Yet turning back is impossible; Gadhafi will kill them.