Friday, March 18, 2011

Libya No Fly Zone - The Plan Plus Update on Bahrain


Our readers will know that Middle East Analysis has been fairly accurate so far on the Libyan situation. We accurately predicted that Gaddafi would use his Air force decisively to win this war with the rebels unless a No Fly Zone was implemented.

The French military have been busy planning strikes in Libya as part of the No Fly Zone implementation.

Gaddafi's air assets - He has Mig 21's, Mig 23s,a number of Sukhoi 22's and Galib trainer aircraft armed with Air to Surface rockets that have been in use in current operations. All in all, Gaddafi has only 20 air planes that are in working conditions. Out of the 4 Mirages that he had, 2 were flown to Malta as pilots defected.
Libyan Air Force Chinooks

In addition to this, Gaddafi has a decent sized helicopter fleet, which are estimated to be around 40. These compromise Chinooks (which incidentally played a signifcant and decisive role in the recent offensive on rebel held cities) that were recently upgraded in Italy as well as a number of Russian attack helicopters. Many of the pilots appear to be from the Syrian Air Force (sent by Bashaar Al Assad as part of a long standing pact that is in place between the 2 countries).

The Plan - Our sources confirm to us that the plan is for Western air forces to destroy Gaddafi's Air Force fleet in the initial strikes. This is due to the importance of the aircraft in striking rebel positions in the last week. This would be key to establishing the no fly zone. The US generals early on had hinted that a No Fly Zone would also mean taking out Libyan Surface to Air Missile sites - this maybe a difficult part of establishing the No Fly Zone but is very much possible.

A French Rafale M combat aircraft performs a catapult assisted launch from the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

We speculate that UK would utilise bases in Cyprus and Sicily. The US appears to be interested in using Egyptian air bases to launch their raids. While the French will probably decide to deploy from the South of France which isn't too far from the Libyan cities.

News reports also sight 2 British Nimrod aircraft that were due to be scrapped this month have been pressed into service.

A crucial test for the coalition force would be to control and coordinate this operation as they have done in the past.

Future issues - Another worry in Washington is that Gaddafi has recruited mercenaries from tribes in Mali that are close to the AQIM area of operations. So the questions being asked is, what will happen once these tribal mercenaries return to their home in Mali with their weapons? Will they swell the AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Maghreb) ranks? As a result, there is a worry that the enitre North Africa may become destabilised. Washington has begun to meet closely with Algerian counter terror advisors, to consult and cooperate on these issues.

Bahrain - Muqtada Al Sadr and some shia groups are debating opening a front against the KSA or Kuwait in solidarity with Bahraini Shia.

These moves are under the assumption that the Saudi led Peninsula Shield Forces are there to put down any unrest. We strongly deny that the Saudi forces are there to deal with the protesters or conduct any sort of riot control.

The KSA led PSF force is there for 2 reasons:
1) Assurance to the Bahraini King, that the KSA will intervene only if the King feels there is a threat to his rule/monarchy.
2) Prevention of any Iranian adventurism.

In fact, the Crown Prince had spoken to the opposition members to explain to them the reasons for the GCC forces deployment. This shows to us that the GCC troops are not there to deal specifically with the internal security issues. The BDF along with the other Ministry of Interior Forces as well as the Bahrain National Guard appear more than capable to deal with any serious unrest.

We expect dialogue to continue, one way or another, as a civil war will create more long term problems, which may end up being a bigger threat to the ruling powers and play into the hands of Iran. This has also been the common view amongst the rulers.

There have been reports of arrested members of the opposition circulating the news and the blogosphere. We see this as an attempt to force the opposition back to the table and solve their problems with dialogue. It remains to be seen if the plans will work.

Thanks for Reading! As always please continue emailing us at eye.on.middleeast "at" gmail "dot" com.

1 comment:

  1. The problem is the Libyan SAM sites. Those *must* be taken out and that may require US wild weasel action. I don't know if the Euros have such capability. I think the whole thrust of this action is to let the Euros handle the violent part and the US will provide support. However much of the Euro action may be waiting on the Wild Weasel squadron to get there and take action.