Politics & Policy

The Road to Benghazi

Runs through Ajdabiyah. Over on the Corner, Rich highlights the stakes for pro-Qaddafi forces and rebels alike:

There have been air-strikes on regime targets in Ajdabiyah by Western aircraft on Tuesday but it is unlikely that their impact has been decisive. Despite the bombardment, on Tuesday forces loyal to Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi fired their heavy weapons, including the devastating truck mounted multi-barrel rockets, with intensity in the direction of opposition forces, stalling their advance.

Both sides have high stakes over control of Ajdabiyah. For the opposition, a permanent loss of Ajdabiyah would open the door for the regime’s rapid advance towards two vital locations — Benghazi and Tobruk. Benghazi is only a 90-minute drive from Ajdabiyah, while another road from the city opens directly into Tobruk, only around 150 km from the Egyptian border. Control by the government forces over Tobruk, a famous battlefield of the World War II era, will cut-off Benghazi, the epicentre of the revolt, from Egypt, a vital opposition supply base.

The pro-Qadhafi forces, prizing their country’s oil, are also equally desperate to cement their hold over Ajdabiyah. Once entrenched, the city could well become the regime’s springboard for an advance over Libya’s oil heartland, with oil cities of Brega and Ras Lanuf not far away.

More here.

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