Combat in Libya is winding down. debkafile's exclusive military sources report that Muammar Qaddafi and the rebel commanders are close to concluding a series of accords for ending the war after two weeks of secret talks. Meanwhile, as NATO warplanes continued to pound Tripoli Wednesday night, May 25, fighting on the ground receded to small pockets where a few rebel commanders are still holding out. However the primary battlefields of Misrata, Brega and Ajdabia have fallen silent as the ceasefire begins to take hold.
The talks led by Qaddafi's chief of intelligence Abdullah Sanousi made enough progress this week for both sides to agree to go public on the call for a ceasefire. This prompted Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi to send a letter to world leaders proposing an immediate UN-monitored ceasefire. He said Qaddafi's regime is ready to enter into unconditional talks with rebels, declare an amnesty for both sides, draft a new constitution and create a different form of government. But first the fighting must stop. He made no mention of any plans for Qaddafi to quit.
Our sources report that the text of the prime minister's letter was taken from the draft accords already covered by government and rebel negotiators.
In London, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed after they met Wednesday that Qaddafi should step down and leave Libya but they also admitted that to achieve this objective the fighting would be drawn out. "We may have to be more patient than people would like," said Obama. Neither ruled out a possible ceasefire.
Meanwhile, NATO continues to bomb often empty buildings in Tripoli still hoping to kill the Libyan ruler (wtf?) and so cut the war short with a victory. This week, too, alliance bombers targeted Nalyut 230 kilometers west of Tripoli in the Nafussa Mountains where debkafile reports Berber tribes are fighting a secessionist war against Qaddafi unrelated to the Benghazi revolt.
According to our military sources, the rebel commanders decided to go for a deal with Qaddafi when they saw the Obama administration had no intention of contributing anything further to war and without the US, NATO would never defeat him. Negotiating for terms for ending the war looked like the better option.