March 22, 2011
Libya Conflict: Situation Update
On March 19, the United States launched Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya following the passage of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of all necessary measures to protect civilians from assaults by forces loyal to Libyan Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. This joint Critical Threats Project and Institute for the Study of War (ISW) tracker will provide continuous updates on U.S. and coalition operations and on the latest developments in Libya with a focus on the activities of pro-Qaddafi and opposition forces.
Last Updated: May 27, 2011 at 1300 EST.
MAY 27: Russia has shifted its position on Libya and now believes Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to rule and should leave power. Russia has offered to mediate a ceasefire and negotiate his departure with senior members of Qaddafi’s inner-circle. The pivot in Russian policy comes after a meeting between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Russian at the G8 summit in France. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been highly critical of the NATO bombing campaign and Medvedev’s earlier decision to not veto the U.N Security Council resolution authorizing the allied action. After Medvedev’s decision, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, "Colonel Gaddafi has deprived himself of legitimacy with his actions, we should help him leave.” (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters, Reuters, Al-Jazeera)
MAY 27: The G8 nations announced in their joint summit communiqué that Qaddafi had no future role in a democratic Libya and the group demanded the regime’s forces cease their attacks against civilians. The communiqué stated that those behind the killing of civilians would be investigated and punished. (Reuters)
MAY 27: British officials cleared the use of attack helicopters in Libya on Thursday. British officials have said that the addition of British Apaches and French Tiger helicopters into the battle will allow for low-level, precision attacks on urban targets, including Libyan officials. In a shift, the helicopters will be operated under NATO command instead of national command, NATO officials said that four Apache attack helicopters were available from the assault ship HMS Ocean as well as four Tigers aboard the French helicopter carrier Tonnerre. (New York Times, Reuters, BBC)
MAY 27: President Obama, on a visit to France for the G8 summit, said that the United States and France were in full agreement on the NATO campaign in Libya until the crisis there is resolved. Obama reaffirmed his commitment to the mission, saying, “"We are joined in resolve to finish the job.” (New York Times)
MAY 27: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said there is a broad consensus among G8 leaders that Qaddafi’s regime is falling apart. Berlusconi said, "We spoke almost entirely about the Libyan situation at dinner and it's everyone's opinion that the regime is imploding.” (Reuters)
MAY 26: Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said that Qaddafi’s offer of a ceasefire and negotiations with the rebels must be backed up by action and the White House immediately rejected the proposal as not being credible. Rhodes said that Qaddafi’s government is not complying with a Security Council resolution intended to protect the Libyan people. NATO warplanes conducted at least four more airstrikes in the area around Qaddafi’s compound in central Tripoli on Thursday night. (Washington Post)
MAY 26: According to British intelligence sources, Qaddafi has responded to the NATO airstrikes on his compound by seeking sanctuary at night in Tripoli’s hospitals, which he knows the alliance will not bomb.
MAY 27: Qaddafi forces reportedly heavily shelled the western mountain of Zintan. The rocket fire came from government troop positions east of the town. Anja Wolz, a doctor with “Doctors Without Borders” stationed in Zintan, described “about a hundred [strikes]. I wasn't counting, but there were four or five rockets every half an hour or 15 minutes." Wolz reported no casualties from the bombardment. (Reuters)
MAY 27: Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, commander of the NATO mission in Libya, said Qaddafi forces have been laying land mines in Misrata. Bouchard reported that “a minefield was laid in the Misrata area.” Qaddafi forces have been previously caught laying mines in an effort to limit rebel movements and humanitarian aid coming into the country. Mines were found near Ajdabiya in the east after rebel forces ousted Qaddafi fighters, and NATO recently removed naval mines from Misrata’s harbor laid by Qaddafi forces. (AFP)
MAY 27: Clashes were reported in the western outskirts of Misrata between Qaddafi and rebel forces. Rebel fighter Suleim Al-Faqih, said the fighting began when rebel fighters fired upon government forces attempting to block a road by digging a trench. The government forces reportedly then fell back, and began shelling the city with Grad rocket and mortar fire. Another fighter, Faraj al-Mistiri, described the shelling as “coming from all sides.” Qaddafi forces launched a counterattack from Zlitan, west of Misrata, in an attempt to retake Misrata earlier this week. (Reuters, Reuters Africa)
MAY 27: Russia joined in the international community’s call for Qaddafi to remove himself from power, and offered to facilitate his removal. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Qaddafi has “deprived himself of legitimacy with his actions, we should help him leave." (Reuters)
MAY 26: Qaddafi is believed to have invested Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, estimated at $53 billion, in major US and European financial institutions, according to one report. The report identified Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, HSBC Holdings, and Societe General in helping the Qaddafi regime invest the fund. The investments occurred well before the current sanctions were imposed against Libya. All assets of the Qaddafi family and Libyan government are currently frozen by the European Union and US. (New York Times)
MAY 27: Speaking at a news conference at the end of the Group of Eight's (G8) annual summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that he still plans to visit the rebel headquarters in Benghazi, preferably along with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Sarkozy said that “It should be a Franco-British initiative, it would be awkward to do it separately. It's still on the table but for various reasons we haven't fixed the date yet.” (Reuters Africa)
MAY 27: On Friday, Libya's former central bank governor, Farhat Omar Bin Guidara, declared that he had defected from the Qaddafi regime and would be joining the rebels. Bin Guidara said that "I left Libya on Feb. 21, and since the beginning of March, I split from the regime. But due to the nature of my work, I made no press statements. I have announced my resignation and now I am supporting the ... interim (rebel) council in providing suitable living conditions in areas that are facing unrest." (Reuters)
MAY 27: Heavy fighting on the outskirts of Misrata has resulted in the deaths of three rebels and sixteen injuries. A rebel fighter, Faraj al Mistiri, said that, "We are being attacked from all sides with rockets, RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and mortars. They are trying their hardest to get back into Misrata." (Reuters)
MAY 27: Zintan received intense rocket fire from pro-Qaddafi forces positioned to the east of the town. A foreign doctor said that "There must have been about a hundred (strikes). I wasn't counting, but there were four or five rockets every half an hour or 15 minutes," but said that no casualties had yet been reported. The doctor also said that civilians within Zintan were leaving the city to escape the attacks. Amnesty International has also reported that there have been cases of "enforced disappearances," in the area, specifically of young men believed to have been kidnapped by Qaddafi forces. (Reuters, AFP)
MAY 26: The deputy leader of the rebel-led Transitional National Council, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, told a news conference that a one to two-year transition period would be needed following the potential removal of Colonel Qaddafi. During that time period, opposition leaders would “form a transitional legislative body tasked with writing a constitution, hold a referendum on the charter, form political parties and then hold elections.” However, Yousif Sherif, a council member in charge of town councils and culture said that elections should not take more than six months to organize. Sherif also said that no council member would be allowed to stand for election. (Associated Press)
Source: Department of Defense, BBC News, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal