But as Benghazi families continue to make pilgrimages south to celebrate the wreckage of Qaddafi’s army, the rebels are stalled outside Ajdabiya, where fierce firefights Monday and Tuesday have done little to overturn a current stalemate.
Fighter jets and cruise missiles may be good for destroying Qaddafi’s armor on the country’s desert roads, but in places like Ajdabiya where Qaddafi’s forces are mixed in with the local population and rebel fighters, they’re of little immediate use.
If Ajdabiya – lacking power and largely cut off from the rest of Libya for more than a week now – has been so difficult to retake, how much harder will it be for the untrained rebels to push west toward Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown filled with loyalists, and on to Tripoli?
And will the international coalition that has given the rebels breathing room be able to hold together in the face of electorates suspicious of another war until the rebels can find and press an advantage? US officials have publicly insisted the mission is only to protect Libyan civilians, not to provide air cover for a rebel advance west.
Indeed, support for Sarkozy and Obama may be flagging in their home countries, but here they’re heroes, at least for a few days. One man in Zueitina, a small town that hosts an oil refinery and power station about 10 miles northeast of Ajdabiya, insists his next son will be named Sarkozy.
But the rebel militiamen gathered in force in Zueitina are increasingly frustrated.
“We love Sarkozy, we love Obama,” says a heavily bearded young man, lounging in the shade with his rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). “But where are they today?”