Qaddafi forces shelled an oil refinery in the rebel stronghold of Misrata yesterday. It’s likely this was an intentional target, hit in order to undermine an important American interest in the country.
On another note, here’s an interesting read from Foreign Policy on six reasons Qaddafi won’t quit.
NATO forces and their Libyan rebel allies have scored some notable successes over Qaddafi. Eight high-ranking Libyan officers, including five generals, defected to Italy this week. Rebel forcesdrove Qaddafi’s troops back from Misrata last month, ending the suffocating siege of the strategically located city. But despite these advances, neither side appears poised to break out of the months-long military stalemate in western Libya.
NATO is not attempting to bring about a complete military defeat of Qaddafi, which would require a much larger military effort, but is instead trying to impose sufficient costs that his regime either surrenders or collapses. Airstrikes targeting the leadership compound in Tripoli, while ostensibly designed to degrade Libyan command-and-control capabilities, are also likely intended to hit Qaddafi and key regime figures. At the same time, international financial and military assistance to the ragtag rebel forces is intended to bolster the internal revolt against his regime. But targeting elusive (or at times just well-bunkered) regime leaders from the air is hard, and, so far, Qaddafi is showing resilience and resolve — much more than many advocates of intervention expected.
Six factors drawn from recent decades’ experience explain NATO’s difficulties — and why the Libya war could drag on for a long while longer.
The basic thrust is that for various structural and political reasons the NATO campaign in Libya is likely to drag on for a lot longer and there’s not much the U.S. can do about it, which makes me think perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to intervene in the first place.
Update: The House of Reps has just voted 248 to 163 to add an amendment to the current military appropriations bill that would prohibit funds going towards operations in Libya. They still have to approve the bill as a whole and it has not yet been voted upon by the Senate, but this may be a sign that Congress will block Obama from continuing the intervention in Libya. Not clear yet what this means for the NATO operation overall, but Britain seems to be backing away slightly, and a paltry minority of Americans actually support it.