Qaddafi beats back rebels; Benghazi pleas for no-fly zone

Qaddafi-loyalist forces pushed deeper into rebel-held eastern Libya on March 13, overrunning the oil hub of Port Brega and sending its defenders fleeing toward the opposition stronghold of Benghazi. Ajdabiya, just some 150 miles down the coast from Benghazi, is the next town where rebels are preparing to block the advance. Air-strikes have already hit the western outskirts of Ajdabiya. State-run TV claimed that Port Brega had been “cleansed of armed gangs.” In Benghazi, opposition spokesman Mustafa Gheriani issued an urgent call for a no-fly zone. Meeting in Cairo, the Arab League also resolved to petition the UN Security Council for a no-fly zone. Syria and Algeria cast the only dissenting votes. (LAT, VOA, WP, Ya-Libnan, March 13)

The Arab League vote seems to reverse an earlier Syrian-sponsored resolution against foreign intervention in Libya. The Organization of the Islamic Conference and the the Gulf Cooperation Council have already issued their own calls for a no-fly zone. (Syria has thus far managed to avoid massive internal protests through harsh pre-emptive measures.)

Mohammed Omar al-Mukhtar—the son of the independence martyr Omar al-Mukhtar, hanged by the Italians in 1931—predicted victory for the rebels, despite their recent reversals. “They should hold themselves up and fill themselves with courage,” he said from Benghazi. “God shall support them and give them victory.” (, March 12)

See our last posts on Libya and the new Arab revolutions.

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