With US and NATO air strikes backing their advance, rebel forces have pushed into western Libya, but are finding much less support for the uprising and even less for the military aspect of the rebel offensive in the region.
In particular Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte is a major target, with the 150,000 locals not necessarily welcomed as liberators so much as conquerors representing East Libya. Nowhere is the divide between East Libya and Gadhafian Libya so clear than in Sirte.
Which is unsurprising in a nation with such local political sensibilities as Libya. It was exactly those sensibilities that spawned the army defections early in the rebellion, and gave birth to such strong anti-regime movements in places like Benghazi. Now it is working the other way, in places where Gadhafi and his tribesmen have sway.
This suggests that while the rebels were easily able to retake towns like R’as Lanuf, which had strong support for their movement, the offensive is slowing as the mostly eastern rebellion tries to march west and take key cities around Tripoli. Though the air strikes will continue to back the rebel takeover of the region, whether they can capitalize on this support remains to be seen.