Libya’s rebels have gained ground from Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in the last week following Western airstrikes.
As Socialist Worker went to press they had returned to the situation at the high point of the revolution.
The Western media constantly belittle Libya’s revolutionaries as a “ragtag” army who had got nowhere and were close to defeat before Western intervention.
But in the early stages of the revolution these forces had taken control of most Libyan cities.
They achieved this through a call to revolution, rather than matching Gaddafi militarily.
Even as they retreated they were still able to win some government forces to their side.
The revolution had used the tactic of winning Gaddafi’s forces over by offering them something better. But now, as Western bombs fall, Gaddafi will find it easier to present himself as an anti-imperialist.
Though the media still talk about a “no-fly zone”, US, British and French aircraft are engaged in a sustained attack on ground targets.
But the more the rebels rely on Western air power, the greater the danger that the revolution’s original aims will be washed away.
Western leaders came together this Tuesday in London to discuss Libya’s future.
Hillary Clinton met with Libyan Interim Transitional National Council leader Mahmoud Jibril. He represents the way that the US is trying to steer the rebellion.
Jibril left Libya a year before the outbreak of the revolution to live in the US.
An internal US report in 2008 described him as “head of Libya’s national economic planning apparatus” and in charge of implementing “government restructuring and privatisation”.
Western powers are trying to take control of the direction the Arab rebellions take.
Michael Clarke of the Royal United Services Institute told the Financial Times, “The high tempo of operations needs to see the Gaddafi regime implode within a few days… if not I don’t think the international consensus will support air operations on this basis.”
But US secretary of defence Robert Gates voiced his concerns last week, stating that he didn’t think “anybody has any idea” how long the operation was to continue.