TRIPOLI, LIBYA (NEWS1130) – As air strikes pound targets in Libya, supporters of Moammar Ghadafi are gathering at airports to act as human shields.
The strikes started Saturday and have reportedly heavily damaged Libya’s air defenses. But Ghadafi has remained defiant. “We even trained the women to fight, to carry weapons and use arms.”
The human shields appear to be aimed at discouraging the coalition from bombing some targets. Britain aborted one of its bombing missions overnight over fears of hitting civilians.
There are still many questions about how long this assault will last. The US says it will be days rather than weeks and is already looking to hand over control.
Coalition fighter jets have stopped a line of tanks advancing on rebels in Benghazi. No one knows where Ghadafi is after a surprise cruise missile strike flattened a building at his command centre in Tripoli.
The US and UK say Ghadafi is not a target, but won’t guarantee his safety.
Canadian jet fighters have flown their first mission to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. The mission though does not involve attacking ground targets.
The West not making friends
Air strikes are one thing but SFU’s Andre Gerolymatos feels ground troops may be needed to stabilize Libya and ultimately force Ghadafi from power.
He also warns the West isn’t making many friends among Arab leaders.
“This might turn into a full scale crisis within the Arab world because of the Arab League. There are rumours they’re not happy with how events are unfolding with respect to the fly zone because it is more than a fly zone. It also involves airplanes hitting ground targets.”
He adds the UN resolution doesn’t exclude using ground forces. “It only excludes an occupation force and if they see that they’re not getting anywhere, are they willing to just drop it and go away? I don’t think so. They’re going to get rid of Gadhafi one way or the other.”
Gerolymatos admits the Arab League is an ineffectual group composed of some of the world’s worst rulers, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen regimes dealing with their own popular uprisings.