France, a very significant regional power in North Africa and Europe, has formally recognized the Rebellion as the sole legitimate government of Libya, and have called on other world governments to do the same. This is a good thing.
The no fly zone option seems to have stalled at both the UN and NATO, at least for the time being. This is also a good thing.
Unfortunately, not all the news is good. Gaddafi appears to have completed the conquest of Zawiya and has taken the Rebel town of Ras Lanuf.
Here is the map from the 6th, the last time a major territory shift took place. The difference now is that Ras Lanuf and Zawiya are in government hands – the red line in the center of the map should be moved just east of Ras Lanuf, were Rebel forces have set up defensive positions along the road. Brega has suffered a few air attacks with minimal damage done in the wake of the fall of Ras Lanuf.
The BBC has done a good job summing up the various weapons in play in this civil war. The BBC agrees with me that Gaddafi’s fixed wing ground attack aircraft are rather old, but I believe they have grossly overestimated the number airworthy. I’d say around 10 to a baker’s dozen are capable of flying. I suspect we will see no more of pilots defecting or ejecting rather than bomb their own people — by now, only pilots personally loyal to Gaddafi are going to be allowed in their jets. One easy way for Gaddafi to ensure personal loyalty is by making it clear to pilots that disloyalty will result in the execution of their families.
In Benghazi, several thousand gathered after Friday prayers to rally in support of the Rebellion. By contrast, a few dozen rallied in support of Gaddafi. Worth noting here: people protesting in favor of Gaddafi in the capital of the Rebellion were allowed to express themselves. They were not shot. They were not rounded up and carted off into a van. The peaceful demonstration was allowed. Freedom of expression looks like it is being respected in Rebel-held Benghazi.
I don’t think pro-Government protests would be tolerated in Rebel held areas closer to the front, were it could amount to an immediate tactical threat, but that is the nature of war. Far enough away from the front, a respectable civil government ought to allow demonstrations in support of the enemy. The Rebels allow that. Gaddafi does not. One more reason why the Rebels have gained legitimacy at the expense of Gaddafi’s regime.
(I previously said that I’d go over the rest of 20th century Libyan history today. That will wait until the next lull in Libyan events.)