The Other McCain

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Libya: Even the New York Times Admits the Rebels Are Militarily Hopeless

Posted on | April 7, 2011 | 5 Comments

Having spent the past several days bemoaning what a half-assed bunch the Libyan rebels are, it’s nice to see a reporter on the scene describe the extent of their half-assedness:

The rebel military, as it sometimes called, is not really a military at all. . . .
With throaty cries and weapons they have looted and scrounged, the rebels gather along Libya ‘s main coastal highway each day, ready to fight. Many of them are brave, even extraordinarily so. . . .
But by almost all measures by which a military might be assessed, they are a hapless bunch. They have almost no communication equipment. There is no visible officer or noncommissioned officer corps. Their weapons are a mishmash of hastily acquired arms, which few of them know how to use.
With only weeks of fighting experience, they lack an understanding of the fundamentals of offensive and defensive combat, or how to organize fire support. They fire recklessly and sometimes accidentally. Most of them have yet to learn how to hold seized ground, or to protect themselves from their battlefield’s persistent rocket and mortar fire, which might be done by simply digging in. . . .

Read the whole thing. It is in hope of overthrowing Moammar Qaddafi with this pathetic rabble that the Obama administration has involved the international prestige of the United States. Sigh.

What happened in Wednesday’s fighting? It’s hard to say, because the rebels have now banned reporters from the front:

Rebel soldiers refused to let civilians past the checkpoint outside the town of Ajdabiya on the road leading to the front, citing strict orders from the defected army officers who lead the opposition forces. . . .
Until now the front lines have had a carnival-like quality, with hundreds of young men, mostly unarmed, milling around, singing and chanting, and then fleeing in panic when mortars crash into the sand along the road.
But after a week in which the force has been pinned down outside a string of vital oil towns it has twice seized and lost, the core of army defectors leading the charge ordered civilians be kept away from the battle.

So as to what has transpired in the fighting near the oil port of Brega, we must rely on second-hand accounts:

Libyan rebels reported heavy fighting with the forces of Muammar Gaddafi on the Mediterranean coast road on Wednesday as both sides tried to break a stalemate in the seven-week war.
Mohamed el Masrafy, a member of a rebel special forces unit, said clashes began at 6am after Gaddafi’s forces were resupplied with ammunition and moved eastwards out of the oil port of Brega.
He told journalists after returning to the eastern town of Ajdabiyah there was heavy fighting with machineguns and other weapons.
“The rebel army is about 60 kilometres [35 miles] from here,” he said. That would put them about 20 kilometres [12 miles] from Brega, the focus of a week-long see-saw battle. Gaddafi’s forces mounted a sustained assault on Tuesday that pushed the rebels about half way back to Ajdabiyah, gateway to their stronghold of Benghazi. . . .
Hossam Ahmed, a defector from Gaddafi’s army, said the frontline was 40-60 kilometre west of Adjabiyah, saying on Tuesday’s retreat “wasn’t a full withdrawal, it’s back and forth”.

There was one report, from the Chinese press agency Xinhua, claiming Qaddafi’s forces have retreated from Brega, but that is contradicted by all other news reports online. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Qaddafi’s forces have attacked oil fields that feed the rebel-held port of Tobruk, limiting the ability of the rebels to export oil to pay for more weapons. And the continued fighting in Libya is one reason some analysts expect oil to spike as high as $150 a barrel later this year.

Higher prices? Not a bug, a feature!


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