April 26, 2011

TSG IntelBrief: Libya, Thinking Ahead



Only some 48 hours after Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen stated that he believed the situation in Libya was heading for stalemate, last weekend saw the Libyan army making a retreat from the besieged town of Misurata.

Sources from the city said Qadhafi's army was making a rapid retreat into the residential areas to the west of the city.

In Misurata, there was still fighting behind the market and also near the hospital and the faculty of science in the eastern city. Medical sources reported some 20 to 30 rebels killed; however, there were many more deaths in the pro-Qadhafi forces.

This weekend is also seeing a plan emerge whereby France and the UK would ship rebel forces from the east into Misrata along with their weapons, ammunition and other supplies necessary to support the besieged fighters.

We understand that four Apache attack helicopters from the UK Army Air Corps may also be deployed to provide close air support to the rebel fighters in Misurata.

The city of Misurata has without doubt become a key center of gravity for this conflict. If it falls to the rebels, then this will deal a serious blow to the credibility of both Qadhafi and his army.

On the other hand, if the Libyan army takes Misurata then it will create a de facto partition of Libya with the pro-Qadhafi forces in the West and the rebel forces in the East.

The Soufan Group is examining the broad local and regional implications of what is becoming a culminating point of operations in Libya.

The outcome of this conflict will have a domino effect that will impact not only on Africa, but the Middle East, Russia, the Far East, Europe and the US.  It is an outcome that has to be very carefully managed for those reasons.


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