Tag Archives: al jazeera

Gaddafi’s Götterdämmerung: The End in Tripoli

A rebel fighter destroys a poster of Gaddafi found in the administration centre after rebels seized full control of Az-Zawiyah [Bob Strong/Reuters]

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/08/201182122425905430.html

It appears that the end is near if it has not already come for the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.  After nearly six months of civil war in which a rag tag coalition of rebels aided by NATO airpower, Special Forces and intelligence agencies has reduced Gaddafi’s zone of control to the Bab Al-Aziziya-Jazeera stronghold.Green Squarethe center of many pro-Gaddafi rallies since the beginning of the uprising is now decked out in the pre-Gaddafi flag that has served as a unifying symbol for the rebels who span the spectrum from pro-Western democrats to Islamists as rebels and residents of Tripoli celebrated together amid rifle fire.

Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, said from the Green Square: “There’s a party in the Libyan capital tonight. The people are in charge of the city. They’ve decided the square is now called Martyr’s Square, the original name. They’re shouting ‘we’re free’ and shooting at a poster of Gaddafi.”

The regime began to collapse this week as rebels captured the key western city of Az Zawiyah and rapidly advanced from the west into Tripoli gaining its outskirts by Saturday even as other rebel forces advanced from the south and east, a move that Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairman of the NTC said “There is co-ordination with the rebels in Tripoli. This was a pre-set plan. They’ve been preparing for a while. There’s co-ordination with the rebels approaching from the east, west and south.”  As they did most military resistance by pro-Gaddafi forces began to collapse.  There are reports that the unit in charge of Gaddafi’s security has went over to the rebels with its commander instructing his soldiers to “lay down their arms.”  The rebel forces also overran a key Libyan Army base which was the home of the Khamis Brigade named for his youngest son Khamis who serves as its commander.

The government of neighboring Tunisia has recognized the Nation Transitional Council as the legitimate government ofLibyaon Saturday joining a number of western nations in doing so.

The International Criminal Court has confirmed that Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam and his brother Saadi have been captured by rebel “Special Forces.”  Saif who has been the face of the regime for much of the rebellion was indicted with his father and the head of the State Intelligence Chief earlier in the year for the ruthless crackdown on Libya’s “Arab Spring” demonstrators was captured very early Monday morning inTripoli.   SkyNews has reported that the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court told CNN that talks will be held with the Rebel National Transitional Council about transferring Saif toThe Hague.

Another report through Al Jazeera reported that another of Gaddafi’s son’s Mohammed cut off an interview after gunfire was heard telling the reporter “I..I… I am being attacked right now…inside, inside my house, inside.” According to Al Jazeera he refused to surrender, his guards shot at rebels. One rebel was killed and one bodyguard was injured and that he and his family are “safe” but Mohammed has confirmed to Al Jazeera TV that he “has been detained and is under house arrest.” Mohammed said in the interview “I’ve never been a government or security official; however I can tell you the absence of wisdom and foresight is what brought us to here today. Our differences could have been solved easily.”

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said “We are still very strong. We have thousands and thousands of fighters who have nowhere to go but to fight.”  He also claimed that 65,000 “professional soldiers” were ready to defeat the rebels.  Despite this there are reports that defecting Libyan soldiers are now clashing with the loyalists and African mercenaries that remain.  The TNC admits that it does not yet completely control the city but is working on it.

As for Gaddafi himself there are some reports that he has fled even as he announced that he would not go into exile and said “We will fight to the last drop of blood,” he said. “We will never give up.”  I his radio address Sunday night Gaddafi appeared to be begging for help from the people of Tripoli.

You You !
Come out of your houses and do this !
That is your duty !
Death or Life !
Come on, swarm the city of
Tripoli !
From the inside and from the outside !
The women, who had weapon training, come out with her weapons!
You are all armed in the city of
Tripoli
There is no excuse, just come out !
The collaborators of occupation are very small groups
How can you allow
Tripoli, capital of Lybia, to fall under occupation another time, after the Revolution and Liberation and… ?
How can an armed population allow a handful of mercenaries, of traitors, of rats to open the way to occupation in the city of Tripoli
That is unacceptable
This is, this is dangerous
Tripoli burned and became like Baghdad, what is our excuse, why ?
The
Tripoli that was safe and beautiful
What became of her when they made it a war zone?”

The situation is rapidly changing and at times chaotic.  As in every revolution there is turmoil and it I am sure that there will still be some heavy fighting as loyalists aided by African mercenaries hired by Gaddafi continue the fight.  The rebels themselves are not well organized but have the advantage of momentum and apparently the support of many citizens inTripoli.  The fact that three of Gaddafi’s sons are now prisoners and that no major units of the Libyan Army appear to be intact indicates that Gaddafi’s regime is on its last legs. Despite this the rebels are preparing for more battles with Gaddafi supporters who they think will attempt to retake Green Square which has been renamed by the rebels “Martyr’s Square.”

What will come next is uncertain.  The rebels represent various factions and many are Libyan expatriates who have returned to oust Gaddafi including a good number from the United States.  In the mix are pro-Western democrats, Islamists, Socialists and others. Some represent the NTC while others represent tribes opposed to Gaddafi and some may be affiliated with Al Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups.  The problem is that the Libyan people, despite their passion for their country have no experience in governing and with the exception of expatiates from the United States and Western European countries no experience in democracy.  Thus when Gaddafi is finally overthrown the fate of Lybia and its people will be uncertain.  NATO has offered assistance and support to a post Gaddafi Libya. Likewise we have to wonder how this will impact the rest of the region in the coming months.

President Obama stated that the “United States will continue to work with partners to protect people of Libya and support shift to democracy” and that “Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all.”

The real question now is where Gaddafi is and what will happen to him?  I do not suspect that he will be able to escape at this point with a no-fly zone and with rebels in control of all major routes in and out of Tripoli if he did not make his way out of the city before Sunday.  If he is able to make his way to a country willing to shelter him is hard to say, however if the rebels catch him the question is will he fight to the death or will he surrender?

There will certainly be more to follow and Lord knows what will happen.  We can all pray for the best even as the rebels continue to liberate their country and President Obama and NATO leaders continue to work with the TNC. As my Iraqi friends say “Inshallah.”

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Strike on Libya: The Unknown outcome of Operation Odyssey Dawn

Libyan Rebels among tanks and vehicles destroyed by coalition air strikes outside Benghazi (AFP photo)

“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Field Marshal Helmuth Von Molkte the Elder

“War is the province of chance. In no other sphere of human activity must such a margin be left for this intruder. It increases the uncertainty of every circumstance and deranges the course of events.”
– Karl von Clausewitz

Under the authority of a United Nations Security Council resolution the military forces of a number of NATO nations began air and missile strikes against Libyan air defenses command a control facilities and ground forces.  While the United States and British Royal Navies lobbed salvoes of Tomahawk cruise missiles aircraft from France, Britain, the United States launched the initial air strikes. They have been joined by or soon will be joined by aircraft from Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Qatar, the first Arab nation to participate. A number of other Arab countries may join the force as operations move from air strikes to the enforcement of the no-fly zone itself. The French Navy has deployed the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle from Toulon and it will join the naval forces in conducting air strikes and enforce the no-fly zone.

Air strikes have significantly degraded Libya’s air defenses and blasted Libyan forces arrayed against the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The attacks on the ground forces stopped the Libyan attack in its tracks and the rebels have returned to the advance after appearing to be on the verge of a last stand against Gaddafi’s forces. In the past few days Gaddafi and his son Saif Al Islam Gaddafi have said that they would destroy the revolt and show “no mercy” in doing so. It is my belief that Libyan military officers and forces which have been “on the fence” will join the revolt in short order as the rebel forces renew their advance to the west as their loyalty to the regime is tenuous at best.

The strikes though extensive seem to have avoided doing to the Libyan people what was done to the Iraqi people and not targeted power plants or other infrastructure needed by the Libyan people. In other words NATO is trying to make sure that the Libyan people do not suffer for Gaddafi’s crimes. Gaddafi is trying to play up the attack as an attack against Libya by the “Crusader or Colonial enemy.”

Gaddafi has said that he will wage a “long war” and that he would arm a “million civilians” as loyalists gathered in his compound to act as a human shield to protect Gaddafi.  Gaddafi is known for his propaganda and his ruthlessness so we have to believe that he will at least attempt to resist but arming a million civilians is likely beyond his logistical capabilities while under heavy bombardment. The United States and NATO have said that they have not targeted Gaddafi but of course as everyone knows no one would object if Gaddafi happened to be in the neighborhood of a military target.

As the operation is in its early stages it is unknown how it will turn out. Morally and under the United Nations charter it is the right thing to do as Gaddafi was killing civilians and on the verge of killing many more and making the humanitarian crisis even worse. Unfortunately when any military operation is undertaken the consequences are and outcomes are never pre-determined. One hopes that the strikes will keep Gaddafi from killing more of his own people and causing greater chaos in the region. One also hopes that it will encourage the pro-democracy and secular movements that began in Iran but was crushed but which has taken root in Tunisia and Egypt to continue to spread across the Middle East. One hopes that other Arab nations will help Libya recover from Gaddafi and do what is right for the Libyans and for their own people. One also hopes that the strikes will level the playing field enough for the rebels to overthrow Gaddafi and bring him to justice.  So analysts in the Middle East believe that this will be the case. Al Jazeera reports that “Faysal Itani, deputy head of Middle East and North Africa forecasting at Exclusive Analysis tells Reuters that Gaddafi’s use of heavy weaponry against civilians has narrows his options considerably. He says: The doors are really shut for negotiation …  We think Gaddafi will be killed, or commit suicide or simply run away. It’s over.”

Of course one never knows. Gaddafi has stated that he has issued a cease fire but witnesses in Misrata which has been under heavy attack for the past week state that Gaddafi’s forces are still waging a campaign against civilians in that city. Likewise as Nicholas Burns a former United States Undersecretary of State notes that “one of the gambles that Britain, France and the United States, and indeed the Arab League, have taken is not having an agreement on what the mission is. Is the coalition trying to protect civilians in harm’s way, or in essence trying to overthrow Gaddafi? The coalition has intervened in a civil war on behalf of one of the protagonists. They have got to straighten out exactly what they are trying to accomplish.”

That is a big question mark. The real danger in this kind of unscripted intervention is the unforeseen consequences of each action taken. Even an action undertaken with the noblest of reasons can run afoul of unforeseen and undesirable outcomes. Thus only time will tell and we can only hope that freedom comes to Libya and that the bloodshed will end, hopefully with the Gaddafi regime thrown upon the ash heap of history by the Libyan people.

The die has been cast….

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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