East Libyan foreign minister Fathi Baja today announced that his rebel faction is preparing to launch another offensive against the Gadhafi regime, with the intent of conquering western Libya and removing Moammar Gadhafi from power.
If true this would be the first major attempt at such an offensive since March, when the attempt to ride NATO support across the country stalled amid heavy opposition in Gadhafi’s home district.
This was followed by a counter-offensive by Gadhafi’s forces, which reversed the gains from the previous offensive but then itself stalled once it got into firmly pro-rebel territory. Territorial control has remained largely unchanged since.
Fighting has continued, but mostly in a handful of contested cities like Misrata. Meanwhile, NATO has been lauding their own air strikes as tremendously effective, but with no meaningful changes in the ground war. If history is any indication, the attempted offensive will once again show Libya divided not just in control bytwo would-be governments but in support as well. A failure would once again make the case for a negotiated settlement and a potential partition.