Libyan Rebels - Overplaying Their Hand?

Libya

Photo: AP Images

As many major news outlets reported Sunday night, Moammar Gadhafi’s rule of Libya appears to be coming to a “definitive” end.As CNN reports, “An amateur league of ill-trained rebel fighters appeared to be on the brink of toppling Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year rule Monday after capturing two of the leader’s sons and infiltrating the Libyan capital.”

Gadhafi did not, however, acknowledge or respond to the disappearance of his sons. 

In a radio broadcast to the nation Sunday night, Gadhafi beseeched all Libyans (including women) to take to the streets to beat back the “the imperialists.”

In short, Gadhafi rallied, “‘Get out and lead, lead, lead the people to paradise.'”

The rebellion, however, in and of itself, may not be enough.

While Gadhafi may very well lose power (and soon), the rebels will need some sort of government concession or outside “force stimulus/support” to finish the job.  In particular, Gadhafi will either have to surrender – a very real political possibility – or, just as effectively, NATO must provide more ground support for the rebels to get the dictator out of office.

Obviously, the story of a “new dawn in Libya” is an attractive (and inspirational) one; history, however, has demonstrated that a poorly trained (and not very numerous) rebel force, attacking a city( held by a professional army that has had weeks to entrench) loses more often than it wins. 

In short, depending on internal details, if his troop’s morale is  decent and he has supplies, Quaddafi could hold out for at least a while. 

Now, obviously, geo-political and internal  pressures dictate that Quaddafi will most likely fall.  But while the world’s praising the rebels, we should take a step back and wait until a final “New Dawn In Libya” is officially declared.

Margaret Bogenrief is a Partner with ACM Partners, a boutique crisis management and distressed investing firm serving companies and municipalities in financial distress.  She can be reached at [email protected]

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