As battles continue to rage in Libya, a coalition of over 40 nations concluded talks to determine what strategy to implement and which goals to strive towards in its fight against Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Arab Nations Represented in London Conference
Among the delegates to the conference were representatives from 7 Arab nations. Together with the other global delegates, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, they discussed the military developments and progress of the rebels against Gaddafi’s military forces.Clinton stated in no uncertain terms that allied air strikes would continue against Libyan forces loyal to Gaddafi until the Libyan leader adheres to the terms of the UN resolution demanding a cease-fire and a no-fly zone decreed by the UN to protect non-combatants.
Rebels Losing Ground to Gaddafi’s Forces
As discussions carried on reports of Gaddafi’s forces making significant advances filtered in. Libyan loyalist forces have been able to erase much of the advances the rebel forces have made recently. The western push of the rebels was stopped by intense rocket and tank fire from Gaddafi’s troops. As a result rebels were forced to retreat form Bin Jawad, a town located east of Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. Rebel forces were also pushed out of Nawfaliya, 75 miles east of Sirte, completely nullifying most of the recent territorial and strategic gains the rebels had accomplished previously.Tuesday’s military developments are bad news for the supporters of the rebels, who had been able to achieve some modicum of success with the help of coalition led airstrikes to Gaddafi’s forces. The rebels had taken over several key towns as they swept westward from Benghazi in the east toward Tripoli in the west, including Ras Lanuf, Brega and Uqayla.About 130 miles east of the capital loyalist troops began new attacks on the city of Misrata, where officials there said a minimum of 124 people have been killed in the past nine days. Journalists in Tripoli have also reported hearing several large explosions early on Tuesday evening.
What Happens Next is Up to Gaddafi
Hillary Clinton told reporters at the end of the conference that, “This is a volatile, dynamic situation that is unfolding. Unfortunately we are seeing with Gaddafi, a continuing pressure on the rebels, on his people, a willingness to use force.”Ms. Clinton once again said that it is clear from Gaddafi’s actions that he has lost his legitimacy as the leader of the Libyan people and what happens next is entirely up to him.”I’m not sure that we know exactly when we will get to any change in attitude by Gaddafi and those around him,” she said, adding that one potential end to the conflict “could include him leaving the country.”Journalists reported that what Gaddafi’s ultimate end should be was discussed during the conference. Apparently there was some talk of a country, perhaps Italy, granting refuge to Gaddafi and giving him immunity from prosecution for war crimes in any international court.