For more than a month now, former Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi and his remaining loyalists have been cooped up in the towns of Bani Walid and Sirte, with reports almost weekly that the rebels' ultimate victory is at hand. But the towns have not yet fallen. Though the final resolution is still to come, this continuing standoff is now little but a sideshow to the continuing consolidation of power by the rebel Transitional National Council, which is trying its hardest to get things back to business as usual. Already, yesterday, the first international flight since the uprising landed at Tripoli's airport, and now the AP is reporting that a NATO meeting set to take place in Brussels in the coming days may signal the end of the alliance's air mission over the country. Army General Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa command, which is set to take over many of the operations once NATO pulls back, laid out how it might happen.
We don't want to go from what's there now to zero overnight. There will be some missions that will need to be sustained for some period of time, if for no other reason than to offer assurances to the interim government for things like border security, until such time that they are ready to do all that themselves.
In a further sign that much of the world, including the U.S., has permanently written Qaddafi off their to-do lists, Ham added: "The fact that he is still at large some place is really more a matter for the Libyans than it is for anybody else."