The New York Times is reporting that Libyan rebels are holding Tripoli:
WASHINGTON — As rebel forces in Libya converged on Tripoli on Sunday, American and NATO officials cited an intensification of American aerial surveillance in and around the capital city as a major factor in helping to tilt the balance after months of steady erosion of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s military.
The officials also said that coordination between NATO and the rebels, and among the loosely organized rebel groups themselves, had become more sophisticated and lethal in recent weeks, even though NATO’s mandate has been merely to protect civilians, not to take sides in the conflict.
NATO’s targeting grew increasingly precise, one senior NATO diplomat said, as the United States established around-the-clock surveillance over the dwindling areas that Libyan military forces still controlled, using armed Predator drones to detect, track and occasionally fire at those forces.
“NATO got smarter,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst with the RAND Corporation who follows Libya closely. “The strikes were better controlled. There was better coordination in avoiding collateral damage.” The rebels, while ill-trained and poorly organized even now, made the most of NATO’s direct and indirect support, becoming more effective in selecting targets and transmitting their location, using technology provided by individual NATO allies, to NATO’s targeting team in Italy.
Administration officials greeted the developments with guarded elation that the overthrow of a reviled dictator would vindicate the demands for democracy that have swept the Arab world.
A State Department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said that President Obama, who was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and other senior American officials were following events closely.
Privately, many officials cautioned that it could still be several days or weeks before Libya’s military collapses or Colonel Qaddafi and his inner circle abandon the fight. As Saddam Hussein and his sons did in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Libyan leader could hold on and lead an insurgency from hiding even after the capital fell, the officials said.
A discussion over at Politico on President Obama's strategy in the Libyan revolution:
Foundation for Defense of Democracies :
President Obama will certainly appear vindicated by the news that Tripoli has fallen. Libyans have even more reason to celebrate, now that the long war against Muammar Qadhafi appears to be nearing its end. But a bigger battle - an internecine one - may still be looming.
Darrell M. West
Vice President, Governance Studies, Brookings :
Sometimes, a patient and gradual strategy works well and that is the case with Libya. The U.S. does not always need to send in American troops to get the desired results. It took six months, but Obama’s strategy paid off.
Heritage Foundation, Defense and Homeland Security :
Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan - all remind there is lots of work to be done after the capital falls.
It is time to focus on what comes next.
UPDATE from Andrew Sullivan's blog:
Steve Benen is steamed by the partisan tone of McCain and Butters' statement:
Remember hearing about the "blame America first" crowd? Well, say hello to the "thank America last" crowd.
Libya Falling: A Less-Costly American-led Way of Waging War
[...I]f McCain and Graham really want to complain about why “this success was so long in coming,” maybe they can talk more about their trip to Tripoli two years ago, when both McCain and Graham cozied up to Gaddafi, even visiting with him at the dictator’s home, discussing delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime. Both senators shook Gaddafi’s hand; McCain even bowed a little."
By Mark Thompson
"So the U.S. was able to spearhead the imminent collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya on the cheap. We launched full-fledged invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq against murderous tyrants, but elected not to do the same in Libya. Is this a new template for U.S. wars, or just an acknowledgment of a war-weary nation?
It’s a little of both, actually. President Obama, who was elected, in part, to help wind down those two post-9/11 wars, had no desire to begin a third. But he was willing to help NATO and the Arab League by providing a precision-guided attacks in the Libyan war’s first two weeks, before taking a decidedly back seat for the next five months."
Read on at Battleland.