LIBYA: Timeline of key events since February 2011
NAIROBI, 8 April 2011 (IRIN) - The crisis in Libya began in mid-February and has since led to deaths, injuries and the displacement of thousands. Nearly half a million people, including many third-country nationals who were working in Libya, have left the country. Some are still stranded at border points. Here is a timeline of some key events since
15 February - Riots in Benghazi triggered by the arrest of a human rights activist. The riots soon turn into a fight against government forces, with protesters demanding Col Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya for 41 years, step down.
24 February - Anti-government forces take control of Misrata after evicting forces loyal to Gaddafi.
27 February - UN Security Council passes Resolution 1970, imposing sanctions on Gaddafi and his family and refers the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court. Next day, EU governments approve a package of sanctions against Gaddafi and his closest advisers, including an arms embargo and travel bans.
1 March - UN General Assembly suspends Libya's membership of the Human Rights Council. Aid agencies report that at least 147,000 people have fled across Libya's borders. More are on the move.
5 March - The Libyan National Council meets in Benghazi and declares itself sole representative of Libya. Gaddafi's forces continue to fight in other areas.
6 March - Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Jordan Abdelileh Al-Khatib appointed UN special envoy to Libya. Next day, a regional Flash Appeal for the Libyan crisis is launched by aid agencies. Foreign workers continue leaving Libya.
9 March - Over 100 physicians with medical supplies deployed in eastern Libya by the Arab Medical Union. Access to western Libya remains a problem.
10 March - Forces loyal to Gaddafi bomb the oil town of Brega and take back control of Zawiyah, about 50km west of Tripoli. France recognizes the opposition Libyan National Council (the opposition to Gaddafi) as the legitimate representative of Libya's people.
12 March - The Arab League calls for a UN no-fly zone over Libya to deter the bombardment of civilian targets by government forces.
15 March - Tunisia's Ministry of Public Health, supported by WHO, UNICEF and other health partners, start a vaccination campaign for an estimated 100 under-five children currently residing in Choucha transit camp on the Tunisia-Libya border.
17 March - The UN Security Council votes on Resolution 1973, which authorizes a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians against government forces.
18 March - Reports of a critical shortage of medical personnel in Benghazi particularly as majority were migrant workers who have now left Libya. Next day, coalition air strikes on Libyan government forces start.
20 March - Libya declares a ceasefire, but fighting continues amid rising concerns for the safety of civilians in conflict areas. Next day, Gaddafi tells supporters he will not surrender and asks them to form a human shield to protect him at his Tripoli compound.
24 March - NATO says it will enforce the no-fly zone but stops short of taking full command of UN-mandated military operations to protect civilians. Continuing hostilities, particularly in Misrata, Ajdabiya and Zintan.
Photo: Kate Thomas/IRIN
Some migrant workers and refugees from Libya are stranded at Saloum on the Egyptian border and sleep by the roadside25 March - Report from eastern Libya of increased internal displacement including estimates that up to 25,000 people have been displaced.
28 March - Qatar becomes the first Arab country to recognize Libya's opposition as the people's legitimate representative. Over 50 anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines discovered near power pylons outside Ajdabiya town.
29 March - Shortages of nursing staff, surgical equipment and water, particularly in eastern towns of Ajdabiya, Brega and Albethnan reported. Aid workers demand access to millions of Libyans trapped behind battle lines. "Tell them please, please have a ceasefire," Muftah Etwild, director of international relations of the Libya Red Crescent, tells IRIN.
31 March - Handicap International sends a team to Libya in response to concerns over risks to populations from the use of landmines and unexploded ordnance in recent fighting.
3 April - Warplanes fly over Brega as anti-government forces fight government troops for control of Brega. Government forces attack the towns of Zintan and Yafran. Some 213 people reported drowned in the sea after leaving Libya for Italy.
4 April - Italy recognizes Libyan rebels.
5 April - Turkish medical aid ship arrives in Turkey with injured Libyans from Misrata where fighting continues. Up to 13,600 people remain stranded at camps and transit points on the border with Libya.
6 April - WFP moves more than 1,500 tons of food into eastern Libya, enough to feed more than 100,000 people for a month. ICRC warns that the abundance of weaponry represents a major hazard for the country's civilian population.
Three future scenarios for Libya
THREE FUTURE SCENARIOS FOR LIBYA
By Amar C. Bakshi, CNN
Testifying before Congress on Thursday, General Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command affirmed that the situation in Libya is grinding toward a stalemate.
The Libyan rebels are not an organized fighting force, but Moammar Gadhafi cannot mobilize a major offensive against them because of NATO airstrikes and dwindling support within his own army.
So what lies ahead? Military analysts and Libya experts articulate three main possibilities: (1) a prolonged stalemate, (2) a negotiated settlement, or (3) total victory for one side.
1. Prolonged stalemate: The situation could remain much as it is now with the opposition controlling Benghazi, Ajdabiya and some of the coastline. Moammar Gadhafi would control the rest.
Zachary Hosford and Andrew Exum at the Center for a New American Security recently described what this might look like: “A stalemate in Libya would effectively result in a de facto partition of the country with a severely under-governed and disorganized safe haven in eastern Libya for the rebels that could provide refuge for various militant and criminal groups capable of exporting violence and instability to other countries in North Africa and the Middle East.”
Max Boot, a national security fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), describes the worst case scenario in which this stalemate drags go on for years – much as Saddam Hussein clung to power for a decade after the First Gulf War.
Middle East scholar Juan Cole illustrates a more hopeful scenario in which - after weeks, months or perhaps a year - a negotiated settlement is reached. He noted that the 1995 Dayton Accords were signed more than a year after NATO started bombing in Bosnia.
2. Negotiated settlement: Many analysts argue that time is not on Gadhafi’s side. NATO strikes wear down his forces while other nations supply the rebels with weapons and training. The rebels are gaining access to oil money and potentially to Gadhafi’s frozen accounts, while sanctions squeeze Gadhafi and his associates.
Unable to pay his mercenaries and losing control, Gadhafi might ultimately feel forced to negotiate, or former loyalists may oust him and negotiate in his stead.
In either event, the outcome of a negotiation is an open question. They could lead to the establishment of an interim council, paving the way for parliamentary elections, or, if the stalemate lasts for many years, potentially the partition of Libya.
3. Total victory for one side or the other: Gadhafi’s regime could collapse. This is the scenario many are hoping for. This could occur if Gadhafi’s army breaks in the face of continued NATO bombing or if Gadhafi’s deputies defect en masse. Tripoli would then be open to the rebels.
Having the rebels forcibly overthrow Gadhafi would be much more difficult. As Libyan journalist Fadel Al-Ameen explains, “I don’t imagine that the rebels in the East will be capable of driving all the way to Tripoli. Even if they do, just to invade Tripoli would be a humanitarian catastrophe because Gadhafi and his forces would wreak havoc on the civilian population there.”
The opposite possibility is that Gadhafi defeats the rebels and reasserts control over all of Libya. This is the nightmare scenario, but it is also extremely unlikely. The world’s attention would have to shift away from Libya entirely to allow Gadhafi to amass the requisite force.
Most analysts agree that sooner or later - whether weeks, months or years – Gadhafi has to go, leaving open the question of what happens next.
As James Lindsay of CFR notes, “Part of the problem is we’re talking about what happens on day one….The crucial question is what will be happening in the fall and next year. The same is true if the rebels take it all. That is only the first chapter of the book.”
Exum worries because “most post-conflict states go through a stage where external aid exceeds the government's capacity to effectively administer it, creating conditions ripe for corruption. In Libya's case, you will have a similar situation with both (a) a lot of government oil revenues and (b) very little bureaucracy capable of redistributing resources within the society.”
But there is also reason for optimism. As Al-Ameen says, “Libya’s level of education is high. We’re not looking at a country like Afghanistan, which is a tribal society without leadership or government. Nor is Libya like Iraq with so many sectarian differences. Libya also has economic resources that will help it survive and prosper. The future doesn’t look too bad.