Monday, 3 October 2011

Libya's extreme south

Since the fall of Tripoli in April, it had been widely assumed that Sebha, a Qadhafi stronghold in Libya's extreme south, could become a major redoubt for Qadhafi's retreating forces. However, around 20 September, a spokesman for the rebel forces, Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani , reported that rebel forces controlled as much as 70 per cent of Sebha. At the time, this was met with some incredulity, especially as the rebels had made some premature claims of military victory. However on 22nd September, National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters claimed to have overrun the whole city and taken wholly into their own hands.

There were no signs of either Qadhafi or his son Saif al-Islam being in the town, as many had believed.

Similarly, two or three days later, reports were received that rebels had entered Traghan, the centre of the oasis complex just south of Sebha, and found no sign of Qadhafi or his sons, as had also been thought likely. There is for now no further information on why Sebha appears to have fallen so quickly and with such little resistance.

Although it has always been regarded as a Qadhafi stronghold, there is much suppressed opposition to him in the town and the region, and it is possible that this opposition was able to make its presence felt. Alternatively, it may well be that remaining Qadhafi forces in the city retreated farther south, perhaps along the Wadi al Ajal to the Oubari region or farther on to Ghat or the Traghan oasis complex, or possibly into Niger Of course, it is conceivable that the bulk of Qadhafi's forces in Sebha could have been brought farther north several weeks earlier to reinforce resistance in places such as Bani Walid.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

For more news and expert analysis about the Sahara region, please see Sahara Focus.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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