Col. Muammar Qaddafi is still in Libya, his supporters are still fighting, and a surge by the country's new leadership failed to capture a town that is one of the long-time strongman's densest centers of support. What has looked for weeks like the final throes of the Qaddafi regime apparently drags on.
The forces of the National Transitional Council have seized an airport south of Sirte, Qaddafi's birthplace, Bloomberg reported, but they faced "fierce" resistance from loyalists. And a siege of Bani Walid, another stronghold of pro-Qaddafi fighters, fell short, according to a Reuters report. The opposition "licked their wounds" after the battle, Reuters reported, while Qaddafi's spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, called the wire service to charge that NATO's airstrikes in Sirte had killed 354 civilians.
The more worrisome note for supporters of the NTC could be heard in the post-battle grumbling. Forces outside Bani Walid are deeply frustrated with their leaders, Reuters reported. And while it has been almost a month since the rebels took the capital, the continued tough resistance makes instituting the elements of a new, stable Libyan state difficult.
One wouldn't know that, necessarily, from the way the Libya story is playing out in the United States. President Barack Obama will meet NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, to "congratulate Jalil on the defeat of Muammar Qaddafi’s forces and discuss transition plans."
Might want to look for a less definitive synonym for "defeat," at least while NTC fighters remain hunkered down and unhappy, still on the outskirts of a city loyal to the strongman of old.