McCain visits rebels, Libya adjusts Misrata tactics

Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:54pm EDT

1 of 25. Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference front of a Kingdom of Libya flag in Benghazi April 22, 2011. McCain on Friday called on the United States to recognize Libyan rebels as the true voice of the Libyan people and transfer frozen Libyan assets to them.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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MISRATA, Libya, April 23 - Washington should deploy ground attack aircraft against Muammar Gaddafi's forces and recognize the rebels, leading Senator John McCain said, becoming highest-profile Western politician to visit rebel-held Libya.

Libya's government indicated late on Friday it might adjust its strategy in the besieged city of Misrata, limiting the role of the army and instead sending tribesmen to battle insurgents.

The visit by McCain, the senior Republican politician who ran against Barack Obama for the presidency in 2008, raises the political stakes over a war that the top U.S. military officer acknowledged was headed toward stalemate.

Obama and the leaders of France and Britain say they will not stop their air campaign, now in its second month, until Gaddafi is removed from power. But the bombing has so far failed to tip the balance of power against Gaddafi's forces.

Since the initial days of the strikes, Obama has ordered his troops to take on a backseat military role, reluctant to become embroiled in a third war in a Muslim country and leaving ground strikes to Washington's NATO allies.

This week U.S. forces said they would send drones to carry out ground strikes. In the rebels' eastern stronghold of Benghazi, McCain said Washington should use low-flying attack planes, among the most feared tactical weapons in its arsenal.

"It is still incredibly puzzling to me that the two most accurate close air support weapons systems, the A-10 and the AC-130, have been taken out of the fight," he said on Friday.

The standoff on the ground has been worst felt in the besieged port city of Misrata, the only large city controlled by rebels in the West of the country, where rights groups believe hundreds of people have died in heavy fighting.

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said armed tribesmen would be sent to fight in Misrata, reducing the role of the army, in response to air strikes.

He told reporters in Tripoli: "The situation in Misrata will be eased, will be dealt with by the tribes around Misrata and the rest of Misrata's people and not by the Libyan army."

"The tactic of the army is to have a surgical solution but with the (NATO) airstrikes it doesn't work," he said.

Rebels seized control of a downtown office building that had been a base for Gaddafi's snipers and other troops, after a furious two-week battle. Shattered masonry, wrecked tanks and the incinerated corpse of a government soldier lay near the former insurance offices on Friday.

"They shot anything that moved," one fighter said of the Gaddafi men driven out.

In a tent just outside a Misrata hospital, rebel fighter Abdel Salam Daza lay on a stretcher. The doctor treating him said he was probably the victim of a mortar attack because of the multiple wounds to his head, chest and legs.

Daza, trembling, called out: "God is greatest, God is greatest against a tyrant."

There was more sporadic fighting on Friday on Tripoli Street, the main thoroughfare through the city and scene of the fiercest exchanges during the siege, with occasional explosions.


Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's joint chiefs of staff, told U.S. troops in Baghdad that Western-led air strikes had degraded between 30 and 40 percent of Gaddafi's ground forces. Referring to the conflict, he said: "It's certainly moving toward a stalemate.

Obama also described the conflict as a military stalemate last week, but said he thought Gaddafi was being increasingly isolated and would be toppled eventually.

McCain said Washington should recognize the rebels' Transitional National Council as the official government of Libya, a step already taken by France.

"They have earned this right and Gaddafi has forfeited it by waging war on his own people," he said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, asked about McCain's appeal, replied: "We think it's for the people of Libya to decide who the head of their country is, not for the United States to do that."

Sources close to French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he planned to visit Benghazi, probably in the first two weeks of May, and that he wanted British Prime Minister David Cameron to accompany him.

(Writing by Andrew Dobbie; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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Comments (60)
LeRuscino wrote:
Translated by Professor Sam Hamod, Ph.D.
Recollections of My Life: Col. Mu’ummar Qaddafi, The Leader of the Revolution. April 5, 2011.
In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful…
For 40 years, or was it longer, I can’t remember, I did all I could to give people houses, hospitals, schools, and when they were hungry, I gave them food. I even made Benghazi into farmland from the desert, I stood up to attacks from that cowboy Reagan, when he killed my adopted orphaned daughter, he was trying to kill me, instead he killed that poor innocent child. Then I helped my brothers and sisters from Africa with money for the African Union.

I did all I could to help people understand the concept of real democracy, where people’s committees ran our country. But that was never enough, as some told me, even people who had 10 room homes, new suits and furniture, were never satisfied, as selfish as they were they wanted more. They told Americans and other visitors, that they needed “democracy” and “freedom” never realizing it was a cut throat system, where the biggest dog eats the rest, but they were enchanted with those words, never realizing that in America, there was no free medicine, no free hospitals, no free housing, no free education and no free food, except when people had to beg or go to long lines to get soup.
No, no matter what I did, it was never enough for some, but for others, they knew I was the son of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the only true Arab and Muslim leader we’ve had since Salah-al-Deen, when he claimed the Suez Canal for his people, as I claimed Libya, for my people, it was his footsteps I tried to follow, to keep my people free from colonial domination – from thieves who would steal from us.
Now, I am under attack by the biggest force in military history, my little African son, Obama wants to kill me, to take away the freedom of our country, to take away our free housing, our free medicine, our free education, our free food, and replace it with American style thievery, called “capitalism,” but all of us in the Third World know what that means, it means corporations run the countries, run the world, and the people suffer. So, there is no alternative for me, I must make my stand, and if Allah wishes, I shall die by following His path, the path that has made our country rich with farmland, with food and health, and even allowed us to help our African and Arab brothers and sisters to work here with us, in the Libyan Jamahiriya.

I do not wish to die, but if it comes to that, to save this land, my people, all the thousands who are all my children, then so be it.

Let this testament be my voice to the world, that I stood up to crusader attacks of NATO, stood up to cruelty, stood up to betrayal, stood up to the West and its colonialist ambitions, and that I stood with my African brothers, my true Arab and Muslim brothers, as a beacon of light. When others were building castles, I lived in a modest house, and in a tent. I never forgot my youth in Sirte, I did not spend our national treasury foolishly, and like Salah-al-Deen, our great Muslim leader, who rescued Jerusalem for Islam, I took little for myself…

In the West, some have called me “mad”, “crazy”, but they know the truth yet continue to lie, they know that our land is independent and free, not in the colonial grip, that my vision, my path, is, and has been clear and for my people and that I will fight to my last breath to keep us free, may Allah almighty help us to remain faithful and free.
c: Col. Mu’ummar Qaddafi, 2011/05/04
Copyright Col. Mu’ummar Qaddafi, – Mathaba.Net


Apr 22, 2011 5:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
LeRuscino wrote:
The pictures show lots of civilians that coincidentally happen to be armed to the teeth and firing indiscriminately!

The media started this war – can they end it by now telling the truth? No chance!

Apr 22, 2011 5:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
skyeye wrote:
Europe should not be in Libya. America should not be in Libya. Our leaders want kudos for their ‘brave’ strategy and humanitarian stance.

We have a Christian culture – what have we to do with sons of Allah?

Our leaders will be made to look weak and feeble by their own peoples and will they receive thanks from the rebels? … Oh, no.

And the end of all this having spent billions of pounds we have not got and having killed thousands of Libyans, we will lose trade and lose good will with all the Arab nations. Siding with muslim rebels is a left wing crackpot strategy which is doomed to failure.

The ‘peace’ talks Gadaffi wants should be encouraged and we should leave the people to work out their own settlements and policies – after all, the Arab nations are rich, well armed and can assist their own Islamic brothers to work out a settlement.

Apr 22, 2011 5:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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