NATO warplanes dropped bombs in repeated low-flying raids Tuesday on targets in and around Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s compound in their most intense daytime strikes on the Libyan capital since the aerial campaign began two months ago
What appeared to be bunker-busting bombs laid waste to an area of about two acres, leaving a smoking, twisted mass of the steel remains of six or seven buildings that had stood three to four stories high.
Officials said that 10 to 15 people had died in the attack, but there was no way to verify that number. Western reporters taken to the area late in the afternoon by Libyan government handlers saw one body that had been pulled from the rubble. The authorities identified the remains as those of a man serving as a housecleaner.
Apparently we’re not sure what to do after we “win”:
As NATO airplanes and attack helicopters struck fresh targets in Tripoli and the oil port of Brega on Sunday, senior British and American officials said there was no way of knowing how long it might take for the rebellion against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi — already in its fourth month, and the third month of NATO airstrikes — to drive him from power.
But Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, returning from a brief visit to the rebel headquarters in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, hinted at concern in Western capitals about what might come after the toppling of Colonel Qaddafi. Mr. Hague said he had pressed the rebel leaders to make early progress on a more detailed plan for a post-Qaddafi government that would include sharing power with some of Colonel Qaddafi’s loyalists.
In particular, Mr. Hague said, the rebels should learn from Iraq’s experience, in which a mass purge of former Saddam Hussein loyalists occurred under the American-backed program of “de-Baathification,” and shun any similar undertaking. The reference was to a policy that many analysts believe helped to propel years of insurgency in Iraq by stripping tens of thousands of officials of jobs.
Not that we know when we are going to win, anyway:
Mr. Gates also said there were increasing signs that Colonel Qaddafi’s grip on power was faltering, a view encouraged by a hastening roll call of high-level defectors, the weakening of the Qaddafi forces by the airstrikes, food and fuel shortages in Qaddafi-held cities, and scattered signs that Qaddafi opponents are becoming increasingly restive in some districts of Tripoli.
Also, the rebels have made significant advances in recent days, capturing small towns in the mountains southwest of Tripoli that have majority Berber populations, a group historically hostile to Colonel Qaddafi.
“I think you see signs that the regime is getting shakier by the day,” Mr. Gates said. “It’s just a question when everybody around Qaddafi decides it’s time to throw in the towel and throw him under the bus.”
We’ll file that under “unknown unknowns.” However, the regime is “shakier,” so I’m sure we’re about to turn the corner. Another six months, maybe.