The Libyan people continue to be caught between a rock and a hard place. The Civil War continues, with pro-democracy rebels holding their own in Zawiya, a crucial oil refinery town not far from Gadhafi's power base of Tripoli. Gadhafi forces attacked Zawiya overnight with an armored column, but after several hours of shooting, they withdrew leaving a few dead (8?) behind. The rebels claimed no losses. The situation remains unchanged- the rebels are pretty firmly in control of the eastern section of Libya and are consolidating their power there.
In stark contrast with the eastern half of the nation, at the western border of Libya, tens of thousands of desperate Libyan refugees sought to cross the border into Tunisia. They were apparently seeking to escape the brutal repression of the pro-Gadhafi forces which had shown willingness to fire on unarmed protesters- or in fact, anyone on the street in defiance of government orders to stay indoors. How do you expect people to eat, Gadhafi? Not your problem, that.
In international news, the Obama administration has made it clear that it now considers Gadhafi to be an illegitimate ruler who needs to step down instantly. In cooperation with the EU, sanctions have been imposed- but of course sanctions are a blunt tool that punishes all Libyans, not just Gadhafi. A little more to the point was freezing 30 billion in assets belonging to the Gadhafi faction in Libya. Discussion continues of creating a no fly zone over Libya imposed by NATO- Senators McCain and Lieberman came out in favor, and US Naval vessels are moving in the direction of the eastern Mediterranean. It's not clear how many days that movement will take.
Gadhafi remains defiant, even laughably so, commenting rather deludedly that
"They love me. All my people with me, they love me.. They will die to protect me, my people."
Uh huh. Actually, there are a few thugs still on your team, Moammar, but in terms of numbers, the majority of Libyans clearly want you to be dead or out of the country. Your claims of the people loving you is reminiscent of another news bit from this week, Bernie Madoff claiming that he is a good person. Ha ha ha!
To bring this episode to an end, a no fly zone may be helpful in psychological terms. The Gadhafi military has flown only a handful of missions, and in one case the pilot and co-pilot ejected over rebel territory, allowing their jet to crash. But a no fly zone would give heart to the rebels, allowing them to send forces over open country towards Tripoli without fear of being attacked from the skies. Stay tuned. The hard part of course, setting up a functional government and getting the refugees fed and sent home, will come AFTER Gadhafi is either dead or gone. But none of the hard part can really be done until after he is out of the way.