cesura lab

Western Libya
by Andy Rocchelli, Gabriele Micalizzi

The huge plume of black smoke rising above oil refinery in the rebel-held city of Ras Lanuf, the result of air strikes by the Libyan government, seemed to mark an ominous escalation in what has all the makings of a protracted Libyan civil war. Though the country´s spontaneous democratic revolution made lightning progress in liberating a large swath of the eastern Libya from the dictatorship of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, it´s untrained volunteer militia has since balked in the face of the well-equipped remnants of the Libyan army that has stayed loyal to Gaddafi. Most importantly, the rebels lack armor and air support, and have been pinned down by government attack helicopters, fighter jets, and bombers. The attacks on the oil refinery suggest Gaddafi´s willingness to use his air superiority to target the country´s infrastructure in rebel-held territory, whatever the cost. The rebel government, located just a few hours drive from Ras Lanuf in Libya´s second largest city, Benghazi, used the refinery attack to highlight what they say is the need for immediate international intervention in the form of a no-fly zone over Libya, and uggested that if attacks on Libya´s oil infrastructure continue, there would be both economic and environmental consequences for the whole world. But behind the scenes, the rebel government appears to be less sanguine about their chances for survival without international intervention. Regardless of where the rebels stand, Gaddafi is pushing forward. Besides the ongoing loss of life, a protracted civil war in Libya could have a number of implications. Libya supplies European countries with significant percentages of their crude oil imports; many governments are also worried and prospect of a tidal wave of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Libya. And though Gaddafi´s claim that al-Qaeda is leading the revolution is a baseless attempt to de-legitimize a popular uprising, the longer the battle continues, the greater are the chances that it becomes a magnet for violent extremists. That could dilute the very important aspect of the transformational power that the Arab democracy uprisings are having in the region, doing peacefully in a matter of weeks what violent extremists have been unable to do for years: topple secular Arab dictators. But in Libya, people power alone may not be enough. Extract from Time article by Andrew Lee Butters

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