Libya's revolutionary leadership has appealed for France and Britain to launch air strikes against an intensive assault by Muammar Gaddafi's forces that has forced the rebel army to retreat towards its eastern stronghold of Benghazi.The Provisional Transitional National Council said that calls by European leaders for Gaddafi to quit and the threat of more sanctions were not enough as the regime regains its footing after the initial shock of the popular uprising.
The revolutionaries fear that the hesitation by most European states and the US to take direct action is providing a breathing space for Gaddafi to continue his attempts to crush the uprising in areas around Tripoli and to move toward Benghazi.
"If you don't want to do something, you rely on the diplomatic side. It is not enough when people are dying," said Iman Bugaighis, spokeswoman for the revolutionary council. "We need more than diplomacy. We need a no-fly zone but we need more than that. We need air strikes. I think they know where to bomb if they want to bomb. They know how to intervene. It's urgent."
The sad truth is, however, that neither the EU, US or NATO are prepared to offer anything else than words - at this stage anyway. Only if the Gaddafi mercenaries perpetrate a bloodbath which can be shown on television is it likely that the West will act. But because there are not enough journalists and cameras in large areas of Libyea right now, the Gaddafi mercenaries seem to be able to operate rather freely. In addition, western news media coverage is for the time being dominated by reports from Japan.
There was a time when the US had a leader who was prepared to act: