Libya rebels cut all fuel pipelines to Tripoli: reports
Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi appears to be running out of options as rebels close in on Tripoli, but an end to his regime could still be a long way off.
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"My guess is the strategy is to isolate the capital and start applying pressure ... They (the rebels) seem to be trying to cut the links to the capital, one assumes with the aim of not having to assault the capital."Skip to next paragraph
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The current situation could go three ways, according to Reuters: Qaddafi supporters, starved of fuel and other supplies, could surrender or join the rebels; clandestine opposition members in the city could revolt; or Qaddafi could negotiate an exit deal.
There is little information available about the situation inside Tripoli. If supplies, morale, and support are low, then Qaddafi could have little time left. But there's no evidence that the capital is that embattled, at least not yet, the Washington Post reports.
But even if the rebels were to hold on to Zawiyah, it remained unclear when the conditions for the fall of Tripoli could materialize. There have been few meaningful signs that residents of the capital, who were the target of a crackdown during the early days of the uprising, are ready to revolt, said Geoff Porter, an analyst at North Africa Risk Consulting.
“The rebels’ military capacity and their ability to fight is getting better, but strategically they are still pretty disorganized,” he said. “Without taking Tripoli, there’s not as much impetus for Gaddafi to leave. He won’t leave voluntarily, and the rebels won’t be able to take Tripoli. It doesn’t seem we’re at the breaking point.”
How long it would take to get to the breaking point is anyone's guess, Murphy writes.
Qaddafi's steady loss of territory is making his defeat look inevitable, but it's hard to say how long he can hold out in Tripoli. To answer that question, you'd have to know precisely how much fuel, food, and ammunition he's got stockpiled. Some mind-reading skills or excellent intelligence would also be in order. While Qaddafi, his sons, and his closest aides have little to lose by fighting on, the same could not be said for second-tier regime figures. Will they be pushed to cut deals behind Qaddafi's back by the fear that it will be too late for them to secure their own futures if Tripoli falls to the rebels?
Lack of knowledge on those factors creates a situation where the fall of Tripoli could be days away. Or, it could be months away. What's certain is that the rebels' Western offensive has been a raging success in the past few weeks, and Qaddafi's long-term prospects are growing darker.