Current Weather
The Spy FM

U.S. Looks For Ways To Break Libya Stalemate

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
July 26, 2011

It’s been more than four months since NATO launched an attack on Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. Since then, opposition forces have gained ground with help from NATO airstrikes, but Gadhafi’s military is holding firm so far.

President Obama and other leaders have called on Gadhafi to leave, but he’s clearly not listening. Now, the conflict in Libya has turned into a complicated waiting game.

The goal of the U.S. and NATO-launched attacks has been to prevent Gadhafi’s forces from waging war on the Libyan people by destroying his weapons, equipment and military command and control centers. And if Gadhafi himself happened to be caught up in one of these airstrikes, so be it.

But after four months, some on Capitol Hill are starting to lose patience.

“I mean, he is hanging on and I’ve often said that the sooner he is removed, [the] quicker this gets resolved,” says Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“Harsh words, I know,” Rogers says, “but the longer this stalemate goes, then you have people selling weapons caches for cash. You have chemical stockpiles that look pretty tempting. There’s a lot of buyers on the black market for that stuff.”

A Gadhafi-Rebel Standoff

Anthony Cordesman, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the clock has been working against NATO forces.

“When you let something fester this long and you have an extremely weak rebel force, Gadhafi’s forces have time to adapt,” Cordesman says. “They use different weapons; they become far less visible targets; they start relying on land mines; they have more time in which to try to divide the people and intimidate.”

There’s a standoff with NATO and the rebel force on one side, and an unyielding Gadhafi on the other. The Obama administration is looking for ways to tip the scales.

One U.S. official is pushing for the U.S. to use clandestine action to target Gadhafi. The CIA has operatives on the ground in Libya, but so far U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence operation say their role is limited to gathering intelligence about Gadhafi’s forces.

Those same U.S. officials say morale within the regime’s military is slipping. There’s been a steady stream of defections of officers and troops.

Rogers says those defections haven’t been enough to push Gadhafi out.

“He is still firmly in charge and firmly in control of the military apparatus — [so] the rebels are having a hard time engaging,” Rogers says.

Damage To The Libyan People

The other way to break the stalemate is to give the rebels the weapons they need to win decisively, but that’s controversial. According to one U.S. official, opposition leaders have asked the U.S. for tanks, artillery and heavy machine guns. So far, the U.S. has said no.

Still, even without that help, the Libyan rebels have kept up the fight.

According to one U.S. official, the rebels struck a key blow to Gadhafi a couple weeks ago when they severed a major fuel pipeline that feeds a regime refinery in Zawiya, about 30 miles outside Tripoli.

That’s a big part of the NATO strategy: Bleed Gadhafi of money and resources until he surrenders. The problem is that the Libyan people — the same people NATO is trying to protect — suffer too. There are food shortages in Tripoli, and long lines for fuel.

The CIA estimates that before the current crisis, a third of the Libyan population was living at the poverty level. Cordesman says the last few months have made things even worse.

“Nobody has enough momentum to stop this from becoming what it already is: an agonizing, drawn-out process doing immense economic damage to the Libyan people in which no one can be certain of the outcome,” he says.

In other words, the NATO operation meant to prevent one kind of humanitarian crisis may be contributing to another. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

2PM to 3PM The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party

Think NPR meets Vanity Fair. In each episode, hosts Rico Gagliano & Brendan Francis Newnam talk with some of the world's most interesting celebrities, and along the way equip you with bad jokes, fresh drink recipes, hot food finds, odd news stories... and etiquette tips from the likes of Henry Rollins and Dick Cavett. It's all you need to get an edge in your weekend conversations. Past guests include Michelle Williams, Judd Apatow, Kid Cudi and Sir Richard Branson. Wallpaper magazine calls The Dinner Party one of the Top 40 Reasons To Live In The USA.

Listen Live Now!

3PM to 4PM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

4PM to 5PM Weekend All Things Considered

Weekend All Things Considered

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center