The Libyan Frontline


Jon Lee Anderson visits it:

The rebels have lost ground because they have not learned how to hold it. At the front lines at Ras Lanuf and Brega, they didn’t dig trenches, and so when jets came to bomb them they panicked and ran. Last Friday, I was with them as they abandoned what had been their new fallback front line, in front of the refinery east of Ras Lanuf (having lost the town itself the day before) under withering barrages of rocket fire.

His view of a no-fly zone:

In truth, even if a no-fly zone is imposed now, it might not be enough to stop Qaddafi’s advance. Its real value, as far as I have been able to ascertain, would be the [symbolic] importance, the morale boost it would give the fighters, to allow them to feel that they are not entirely alone in the world. It might even buy them enough time to rally more volunteers to stand and fight, rather than retreat, in the face of Qaddafi’s advancing ground forcesor at least to dig some trenches.

(Photo: A Libyan rebel drives his tank towards the frontline in Ajdabiya on March 14, 2011 as Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi's forces shelled rebel positions on the doorstep of the key town which the revolution against his rule has vowed to defend at all costs. By Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)