Libya's Nearing Climax
"Rebels encircled the beleaguered Libyan capital on Saturday, claiming to have taken major towns to its east, west and south, leaving only the NATO-patrolled sea to the north...
"By Saturday afternoon, the rebels had driven Colonel Qaddafi’s forces out of the strategic oil refinery town of Zawiyah, 30 miles west of Tripoli. After a week of heavy fighting there, residents began to celebrate in the main square.
"The Arab news network Al Jazeera reported that Zlitan, a crucial Qaddafi barracks town east of Tripoli, also had fallen to the rebels. They captured Gharyan, the gateway to the south, last week.
"Farther east, the rebels claimed to have seized the residential areas of the oil port of Brega, a prize that had changed hands many times since the uprising began."
The Free Libya forces have often lost territory after gaining it, but the advances of the past few days have been greater than previously, Qaddafi is preparing for street fighting in the capital, and the pace of defections seems to have increased, signalling that regime figures are losing faith in its survival. What's really needed, though, is a major uprising in Tripoli itself to avoid the need for urban warfare that could ground on for quite a while.