Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Desperation in Misurata; residents angry at NATO

Leila Fadel's first-hand report in the Wash. Post portrays a battered city under siege whose residents are angry at NATO for failing to protect them. She writes: "There are few signs in Misurata of NATO's military campaign to protect civilians. The fighting is all urban warfare, making accurate strikes from the air difficult." No doubt; but her report indicates that Gaddafi's snipers are using particular buildings, which NATO could probably target if it wanted -- although to be honest, I really have no idea. (Nor am I going to debate the intricacies of who counts as a civilian.)

On the question Who are the rebels? that has been much asked, again I really don't know. But Fadel's report suggests that at least a few of them are idealistic young men who may or may not have known what they were getting into:
"We tried to blow up the buildings, but we don't know how," said Alaa el Deen Khesham, 30, a rebel fighter who until two months ago worked in public relations for the government. "We threw homemade bombs in there, but it didn't do anything." ...
Khesham was born in Germany and spent part of his childhood in Boise, Idaho. He has two homes in Tripoli and a sports car. But he gave it all up to fight with the rebels in Misurata.
Given what appears to be happening based on this story, I'd say there's a fair chance he'll never see that sports car again.

Update: The city council in Misurata has now formally requested foreign troops on the ground, according to Fadel.

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