A rebel rabble, armed with rifles and derring-do, and backed by NATO airstrikes, which denied the Colonel the full use of his overwhelming fire-power, has managed to work its way into Tripoli, the stronghold of Qaddafi. There was the usual dancing and firing of weapons in celebration, but even though the western media and rebel leaders announced the end of 42 years of tyranny, Saif Gaddafi, the heir -apparent , who was supposedly captured, appeared at the hotel where foreign journalists are "staying"and jubilantly announced that the rebels had been duped into entering Tripoli. How much of this is true remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, Qaddafi and at least two of his sons (one, Mohammed, supposedly escaped after being captured),are alive and fighting and the brief celebration has been turned into an embarassing disappointment.
The battle is not over and now there are concerns that Qaddafi will use WMD (mustard gas etc.), which he had promised to destroy as a price of Western acceptance in 1999- 2003 and had been physically embraced by Tony Blair and welcomed by USA (his son was welcomed by Hillary to the State Dept), France, Italy etc. There are thousands of shoulder-fired missiles that have not been accounted for. What else does he have and when will he use them? The Colonel has vowed to fight to the end. He is not without leverage, if it is true that he has WMDs. He ceratinly has the backings of many including those from his tribe and mercenaries from Chad and neighboring countries. The Arab League under American/Saudi pressure may have abomdoned him, but NOT the African Union and Russia and China have been lukewarm in their concerns.
There is no doubt that western Special Forces have and are playing a vital role with the rebels, arming, training and leading them in the fight. British and French Special Forces are reported to have limited/controlled the movement of western and other reporters. Of course, NATO has used its planes to bomb widely, even though the UN resolution call for them only to act to protect civilians.
If the rebels are in Tripoli and if Gaddafi is holed up in his compound, we can expect a protracted urban battle. The ability of NATO to bomb will be limited by the possibility of civilian casualty and so they may be forced to bring more, if not "boots" then at least "hush puppies"into the fray.
Ther is a lesson to be learned fron Iraq, after Saddam was defeated...the years of bloodletting thatcontinues until now, the looting of treasures, the extra judicial killings, the roving bands and the IEDs.
Be careful, be very,very careful.
Gadaffi is still holding out, as of Aug.30,2011. It has become a battle of attrition. He may be driven out of Tripoli but he can hold out in Sirte, among his tribesmen for a long time and even NATO bombing will not change that.
In the meantime, there is growing concern in the West about WMDs..sarin and mustard gas, and thousands of shoulder fired missiles that he had stockpiled. It is not so much that he will use them, but that they may go on the blackmarke, and may fall in the hands of Islamists/Jihadists/al Qaeda.There is also concerns about the hundreds of al Qaeda and others who have been freed from prison. Qadaffi had waged a bloody war against them, many of whom had fought against the USA in Iraq, many are from Bengazhi, which was a hot-bed of Islamism and had supplied many Jihadists to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. What role will they play in the