After a day of heavy fighting, rebels in Libya’s eastern city of Brega narrowly defeated Muammar Qaddafi’s forces. Qaddafi’s air-heavy attack on the city was seen as an effort to reassert control of the oil-rich eastern region, which has been considered an anti-Qaddafi rebel stronghold since the beginning of the incursion. At least nine people died in the attack.
Rebel spokesperson Iman Bugaighis conceded that the rebel victory was tenuous. “We don’t know how long it will last. He’s getting stronger,” he said. But there’s no doubt that the rebels have the people behind them. “Is it possible to kill people like this and then say, ‘The Libyan people love me’?” said a Brega resident named Qassim. “He is crazy! He should be admitted!”
As rebels again called for Western intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in support of the measure, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates downplayed involvement. Gates appeared skeptical as he discussed the potential involvement of the U.S. in the creation a Libyan “no-fly zone,” which would prevent Qaddafi from using air strikes against rebels. “Let’s just call a spade a spade,” Gates insisted. “A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya.” But White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the no-fly zone is being “actively considered.”
Meanwhile, crude-oil prices climbed to two-and-a-half-year peaks in response to Libya’s unrest. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch analysts rank the oil shock from Libya as the eighth-largest supply shock since 1950.
Libya unrest keeps oil market on edge; stocks up [Reuters]
Battle for Bregga could mark start of real war in Libya [Guardian UK]
Rebels in Libya Win Battle but Fail to Loosen Qaddafi’s Grip [NYT]
West Cools on No-Fly Zone [WSJ]