Libyan rebels regained momentum and seized at least three key towns over the weekend, as allied airstrikes put Moammar Gadhafi's soldiers on the run. Rebel forces are continuing their offensive with a push toward Gadhafi's hometown, the stronghold Sirte, which is about midway between the capital, Tripoli, and insurgent-held Benghazi. Is the rebel advance a sign that Gadhafi grip on power is loosening? (Watch The Week's Sunday Talk Show Briefing about the mission in Libya)
Yes, Gadhafi is rapidly losing control: The allies' air campaign has neutralized Gadhafi's "advantage in armor and heavy weapons," says Juan Cole at Informed Comment, and that's greatly aided the rebels' "rapid advance." Now that the insurgents have taken back Ajdabiya and Brega, important oil towns, they will soon control most of Libya's considerable oil wealth, giving them a huge "advantage in their struggle with Gadhafi."
"An open letter to the left on Libya"
Don't plan the victory parade yet: The rebels have probably pushed Gadhafi's forces as far back as they will go, says The Economist. The population had "risen up against Gadhafi" in all the towns the rebels had taken — but that's not so in Sirte. There's little chance the untrained, "rag-tag rebel forces" can completely defeat Gadhafi's "more disciplined troops" there without "close air support." And that's something the allies can't provide under the United Nations mandate to protect civilians.
"The rebels advance"
It is hard to know who to root for: The allies went beyond the U.N. mandate by destroying Gadhafi's forces so he would have to "cede control of Ajdabiya," says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. That is "not necessarily a bad thing" — he's "a murderous dictator." But we don't know yet whether the rebels are "freedom-loving democrats," Islamists, or "warlords who will fracture Libya for its oil resources," so fighting on their behalf is a "very, very dangerous" thing to do.
"Video: Rebels retake Ajdabiya"
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