he setup of a no-fly zone in Libya is nearly complete after the U.S.-led onslaught of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses and ground forces. President Obama said coalition airstrikes had "averted immediate tragedy." Still, Gadhafi's forces continue to attack rebel-held cities in western Libya, rebel forces in the east appear unprepared for battle, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has acknowledged that stalemate is a possibility. Is a prolonged, bloody standoff in a divided Libya now a foregone conclusion?
Stalemate looks likely: The risk of Gadhafi "clinging to power in a drawn-out and increasingly dangerous standoff" is very real, says Tom Raum for the Associated Press. He has a "long history of digging in and enduring" — see a previous U.S. air attack on him in 1986 — and the United Nations mandate doesn't include "regime change." So despite Obama's assurances, "don't expect a quick ending in Libya."
"Analysis: Don't expect a quick ending for Gadhafi"
Because Gadhafi won't give up easily: The African dictator and his sons are "crazy and brutal," and all Libyans see that now, says defected diplomat Adam Tarbah in The Guardian. Gadhafi is clearly "willing to deploy any means" to keep power, including "despicable" acts against his own people. Still, "one thing is sure: He will never be able to rule Libya again, at least not the way he used to."
"Gaddafi's brutality has united Libya"
It's up to the West to finish this: The "rag-tag," undisciplined, and poorly armed rebels are unable to unseat Gadhafi alone, says The Baltimore Sun in an editorial, so coalition airstrikes may "have done no more than create the conditions for a stalemate." But it is "wrong to suggest that the cause is already lost," or that we're in "another quagmire." Someone will likely have to help the rebels shove Gadhafi out, but because of Obama's multilateral strategy, maybe it won't be the U.S. this time around.
"In Libya, an unstated mission"
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