McCain Visits Libyan Rebel Stronghold on Friday
McCain Visits Libyan Rebel Stronghold on Friday
After Senator John McCain spent a day on Friday talking to rebels and officials in Benghazi, he concluded that their fighters weren’t from Al Qaeda, that their leaders deserved official recognition from the United States because the legitimate government of Libya and that America and NATO ought to ramp up their air support to break the country’s military stalemate.
And while he most likely misspoke when he described the rebel leadership because the Traditional National Council, instead of Transitional, Mr. McCain was clearly moved in what he saw.
This was one of the most exciting and inspiring days of my life, he explained. Mr. McCain became the initial prominent American official to go to Libya, leaving by nightfall, but buoying the rebels on the day when we are seeing what’s promising from the front lines.
American officials said Thursday they were sending Predator drones along with other armed pilotless aircraft in to the conflict the very first time, greatly beefing up the NATO airstrike arsenal. On Friday there have been reports from western Libya that the drones had been utilized in combat already, based on Col. Ahmed Bani, the spokesman for those rebels’ Free Libya Forces.
There have been also reports that rebel forces had taken a strategic border crossing in western Libya on Thursday, opening up a possible supply line with neighboring Tunisia. And rebels in the besieged western city of Misurata claimed they’d produced some advances against forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, a claim confirmed to a degree by independent reporters on the ground.
Mr. McCain, a powerful advocate of intervention in Libya, continues to be critical from the level of American government action, which he says, is inadequate to interrupt what seems to be a military stalemate. I fear a stalemate, Mr. McCain told reporters in Benghazi, waiting in front from the tricolor rebel flag. He urged America to step-up its airstrikes, especially with ground attack aircraft like the A-10 Warthog and AC-130 gunship, warning that prolonged fighting between Qaddafi forces and also the rebels would lead to a rise in Islamic extremism in the United States.
But Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, thanked the White Home for ordering earlier airstrikes in support of the rebels, whom he known as patriots. Earlier, as he left his hotel, he referred to the rebels as his heroes, based on the Linked Press.
The rebels have lost some of the gains produced in eastern Libya during the beginning of chiefly American bombardments, and also have been plagued by leadership fights in addition to an insufficient modern weapons and military training.
Rebel fighters in Misurata have shown higher resolve and battlefield acumen, fending off a determined siege by Qaddafi forces equipped with tanks, mortars and artillery and firing cluster munitions, which are banned in much of the world. On Friday, the rebels said they celebrated a rare victory, having driven Colonel Qaddafi’s men out of buildings along the central artery of Tripoli Avenue, where snipers had been shooting at anyone who dared venture out.
Andre Liohn, a completely independent photographer focusing on the leading, confirmed inside a Skype conversation from close to the front lines Friday night that the rebels had moved forward in eliminating block by block.
But he said that the Qaddafi forces still held essential ground and the fighting was fierce.
Mr. Liohn asserted the rebels now controlled most of Tripoli Street, one of the main fronts in recent weeks. An insurance creating that had been among the Qaddafi redoubts had fallen into rebel hands, he explained, though there were snipers still in the region.
A lot of the present fighting, he added, was for charge of a large vegetable marketplace.
There is little independent information available on the strength of the Qaddafi forces in and near the city, or of the Qaddafi forces’ capability to manoeuvre in the city, or reinforce. It is also not clear, as each side continue to take casualties, just how long the rebels can fight using the concentration of yesteryear week.
Mr. McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Military Committee, met with council leaders as well as rebel fighters and diplomats in Benghazi; their government has to date been formally recognized only by France, Italy and Qatar. His arrival in eastern Libya was likely to be observed here as an important acknowledgment with a substantial member of the American political establishment.
I have met these brave fighters and they are not Al Qaeda, he explained. They all are some Libyan patriots who will want to maybe liberate their own nation. Next he said that $30 billion in Libyan money frozen in international banks should go towards the rebels’ council, and that America ought to embark on arming the rebels on the scale much like what it did meant for mujahedeen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Mr. McCain also lauded the council, following ending up in 20 of its 31 members. Their biographies are well known, their past service is well known, he said. All have lengthy records of opposition to Qaddafi and in not one of them is there any hint of radical Islam.
However, only 10 names of council members have been officially published, and many of the others stay anonymous, ostensibly for his or her own safety in order to safeguard their families from retaliation. The council is led by Colonel Qaddafi’s former minister of justice, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, and the military’s chief of staff, Abdul Fateh Younes, was his minister of interior. Both defected to the rebel side following the uprising began in February.
Early on Friday, the Muslim holy day, Mr. McCain designed a brief trip to the courthouse that has been the headquarters of these leading the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. Only a few dozen Libyans had been present, and they chanted pro-American and anti-Qaddafi slogans. The courthouse is included with revolutionary graffiti, artwork and thousands of posters picturing those who have died or are missing within the uprising, which began here Feb. 17.
Mr. McCain has criticized as a famous decision at hand over command and charge of the Libya air campaign to NATO powers, which the rebels have criticized as less muscular in their airstrikes than the USA.
For America to withdraw our distinctive offensive capabilities at this time would send the wrong signal, he explained earlier this year, according to The A.P.
Within Baghdad sometime Friday, Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that NATO airstrikes had degraded Colonel Qaddafi’s primary ground forces by Thirty to forty percent, Reuters reported. Nevertheless, he explained, it’s certainly moving towards a stalemate. He had been within Iraq to visit some American fighting troops.
This week, Britain, France and Italy said they would send little numbers of military liaison officers to advise the rebels on ways of generating their forces far better, but they eliminated sending ground troops. The United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing airstrikes to protect civilians particularly ruled out any foreign occupation force when it had been approved five weeks ago.
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