By Nicholay Surkov:
Hillary Clinton and her sisters-in-arms talked Barack Obama into starting the military operation in Libya.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said yesterday that his country was ready for a “long war” with Western countries that attacked his troops the day before. He has already armed his supporters and surrounded his residence in Tripoli with a “human shield,” while the U.S. and its allies in the coalition are prepared to continue the “multi-phase operation” aimed at enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. And now it has become known that the new U.S. military action was the result of liberal women, headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pressuring Barack Obama.
In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, Gadhafi stated that there are no excuses for the intervention of U.S. and European countries in the internal affairs of Libya, and likened it to terrorism. He said he had opened all the arsenals and distributed weapons to people who are ready to defend the country against “crusader colonial aggression.” In addition to that, according to media reports, thousands of Gadhafi supporters surrounded his residence in Tripoli, forming a “human shield” in case of further attacks.
The night before, 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from American and British warships at targets in Libya. They hit more than 20 targets that posed a threat to coalition forces or to civilians in rebel-controlled areas of the country. The primary targets were the Libyan air defense and communication centers in the vicinity of Tripoli, Sirte and Misurata. According to Jamahiriya authorities, 48 people were killed and 150 injured in the air raids. Warships from Canada, Italy and France are also taking part in the operation.
Despite the desire of the United States, France and the UK to get Arab states to at least symbolically participate in the operation, so far that is not happening. Washington is already concerned that Operation “Dawn Odyssey” will be perceived as yet another aggression of the West against Muslim countries.
President Obama, who is currently visiting Brazil, said that Gadhafi’s actions did not leave the West any choice. “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy,” said the White House leader. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, in his turn, argued that military action in Libya was “necessary, legal and right.”
However, American military insists that the U.S. is not going to play a leading role in the international coalition and will transfer the command to its European allies in the next few days.
Let us remind you that the first strikes at Gadhafi troops were launched from a French Air Force aircraft on Saturday. They followed the decision by the emergency summit in Paris with representatives from the UN, EU, League of Arab States (LAS) and the Western powers to use all necessary means to enforce the Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya. The decision was prompted by reports that troops loyal to Gadhafi stormed the stronghold of the opposition, Benghazi, despite international calls for a cease-fire. The attack caused numerous fatalities and destruction.
Meanwhile, U.S. media reported the details of how a decision was reached on U.S. participation in a war in another Muslim country. It turned out that the chief war hawk of the Obama administration is not the Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a leftover from Bush Jr. times, but the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was supported by two other influential liberal women: the Director of the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights within the National Security Council, Samantha Power, and the U.S. Ambassador in the UN, Susan Rice. These ladies had convinced Obama at the meeting on Thursday that the U.S. cannot stand by while Gadhafi is killing his own citizens and stifling the people’s revolution in the cradle.
Professor of Modern East studies in the Department of History, Political Science and Law of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Elena Melkumyan, suggested in a conversation with our newspaper that the military intervention of Western powers would have a decisive impact on the situation in Libya. “It weakens Gadhafi’s position significantly and it is likely that the next actions of the insurgents will be successful. We may well expect the fall of the regime,” the expert believes. She pointed out that Gadhafi also lost the support of Arab countries that have condemned the massive civilian casualties.
The expert doubted that current developments would lead to Libya splitting up, even though historically Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were quite separate and the differences between them are preserved. “The opposition has repeatedly said that they want to preserve the unity of the country. Besides, it would be difficult for Gadhafi to keep even a part of the territory.”
Elena Melkumyan believes that there are no special, hidden motives behind the intervention of the West. “Gadhafi’s regime has discredited itself. It must go. Everybody understands that and nobody wants to support it. The Arab League is against it as well as the West,” stated the professor.
Libya’s Armed Forces
Libya’s armed forces include 76,000 soldiers (40,000 in reserve). Of those, 50,000 are in the Army, 8,000 in the Navy and 18,000 in aviation. Arms include: 2025 T-62, T-55 and T-54 tanks, 200 T-72 tanks, 120 BRDM-2, 1000 BMP-1, 28 M-113 and 750 BTR-50/60.
Artillery consists of 444 large-caliber artillery guns. Among them, 122 mm howitzers, 152 mm howitzers, 155 mm howitzers and 130 mm guns, a “Grad” MRLS and 600 mortars.
Air defense systems consist of the SAM S-75 “Volga”, SAM S-125 “Dvina”, SAM “Circle” and LSD 23×4 “Shilka”. They also have 45 units of a tactical missile system “Point-To-Do”.
Two frigates and several corvettes represent the fleet, as well as patrol and missile boats made in the Soviet Union.
Aviation is represented by seven Tu-22 bombers and 229 fighters, among them 15 French Mirage F-1ED, 94 Soviet MiG-25, 75 MiG-23 and 45 MiG-21. They have 6 Su-24MK fencers, 53 Su-17M-2, Su-20 and 15 MiG-23U, as well as combat-capable trainers L-39 Albatros and only about 50 units of Helicopters CH-47C Chinook, Mi-17 and Mi-8MT.