Libya uprising — updated

Update — Gadaffi’s insanely desperate and brutal effort to hold on to power has reached a new extreme: the Libyan air force is now reported to be bombing Tripoli!

Al Jazeera Arabic is speaking to a political activist in Tripoli, who tells us there are airstrikes “all over Tripoli”.

There is death, fear – and women are crying everywhere. The strikes are concentrated against areas that sent large number of protestors to the streets and there are cars full of foreign fighters firing on people.

He says at least 250 people were killed in the past 24 hours alone and is calling for international help. He tells us Tripoli is “under siege by foreign fighters” – that water and electricity have been cut and there is a shortage of food and medical supplies. “It is a genocide,” he says.

A rapidly growing succession of Libya’s ambassadors have resigned in protest against Gadaffi’s actions: UK (ambassador and embassy staff); India; Arab League; China (senior diplomat); Bangladesh; Indonesia; EU…

Original post follows:
In one of the latest developments, Reuters reports that Libya’s justice minister has resigned in protest at “excessive use of violence against protesters.” The best way to follow the rapidly changing events in Libya is through Twitter #Feb17 and #Libya.

The BBC reports:

On Monday, reports from Tripoli suggested the streets were mainly quiet, with government forces still patrolling Green Square after crushing protests in what witnesses called a “massacre”.

It followed a night of violence between supporters of Col Gaddafi and anti-government protesters.

Gunfire was heard into the early hours of the morning and firefighters struggled to contain a fire at a central government building, the People’s Hall, which was earlier set ablaze.

Libya’s envoy to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, announced he was “joining the revolution” and its ambassador to India, Ali al-Essawi, told the BBC he was resigning in protest against his government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators.

Mohamed Bayou, who until a month ago was chief spokesman for the Libyan government, said the leadership was wrong to threaten violence against its opponents.

“I hope that [Saif Gaddafi] will… change his speech to acknowledge the existence of an internal popular opposition, to enter into dialogue with them regarding thorough changes in the Libyan system,” Mr Bayou said in a statement obtained by the Reuters news agency that appeared to indicate disagreement within the ruling elite.

In another blow to Col Gaddafi’s rule, two tribes – including Libya’s largest tribe, the Warfla – have backed the protesters.

With Tripoli in ferment, the government has already lost control of much of the east of the country, says the BBC’s Jon Leyne in neighbouring Egypt.

It is beginning to look like just a matter of time before Col Gaddafi’s rule finally collapses, adds our correspondent. However Libyans are worried about how much more violence lies in store in the days ahead.

Mapping Violence Against Pro-Democracy Protests in Libya:

View Mapping Violence Against Pro-Democracy Protests in Libya in a larger map

Ian Black writes:

The crushing of protests in Benghazi and elsewhere bears the hallmark of [Muammar Gaddafi’s] instinctive brutality when faced with challenges to his rule, analysts say.

In the 1980s he sent hit squads to murder exiled “stray dogs” who challenged the revolution. Islamist rebels at home were crushed in the 1990s and in 1996 1,000 prisoners were gunned down in an infamous prison massacre.

“For Gaddafi it’s kill or be killed,” said opposition writer Ashour Shamis. “Now he’s gone straight for the kill.”

The uprisings in neighbouring countries do not appear to have shaken his resolve to stay in power. He sent messages of support to Tunisia’s Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali and to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak before they stepped down.

Regime survival has marked Gaddafi’s moves in recent years – from the handover of the Lockerbie bombing suspects to the surrender of his WMD programme after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. No-one expects him to give up peacefully. He may make gestures such as promising closer consultation or boosting investment in housing and social services, but that seems unlikely to satisfy protesters after such brutality towards ordinary Libyans.

“Gaddafi will find it hard to make concessions in order to survive,” said Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Libya. “The attitude of the regime is that it’s all or nothing.”

In a televised speech, Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said on Sunday evening: “We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even to the last woman standing.”

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Addresses the Nation – Part One
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Addresses the Nation – Part Two
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Addresses the Nation – Part Three

“We are analyzing the speech of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to see what possibilities it contains for meaningful reform,” a U.S. official said in Washington, Reuters reports.

In an indication that the Obama administration is poised to challenge Gaddafi with the toughest language it’s capable of deploying, after President Obama on Friday said he was “deeply concerned” by reports of violence from Libya and elsewhere in the region, the State Department now says it is “gravely concerned.”

How much further can US “concern” be ratcheted up?

Maybe Washington is preparing to move into a new and dangerous rhetorical dimension. Maybe Obama’s concern is about to escalate to the level of distress, or even deeply distressed.

Perhaps it’s time to warn the Libyan leader that if he doesn’t stop slaughtering his own people, then Obama will get very upset.

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11 thoughts on “Libya uprising — updated

  1. Dieter Heymann

    Armand Hammer and Gadaffi jointly revolutionized the oil industry overnight. Ever since the industry has learned to live with instead of only dictate to the rulers of OPEC nations. If Gadaffi loses the next rulers of Libya must quickly secure the major source of revenue which is oil export to secure the continued purchase and import of badly needed foodstuffs. Failure to do so must inevitably result in misery for most Libyan people and new uprisings. In Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain it was fairly clear which power or powers could fairly quickly establish or re-establish conditions for securing major sources of revenue. For me, the uprising in Libya is an enigma. The demonstrating masses in the streets cannot by themselves secure the oil export. There appears to be no new power which can but Gadaffi. The armed forces? They seem to be internally divided. Of course there is an “oil ministry” in Libya but that cannot function without commands from the rulers, currently Gadaffi. If Obama gets “tough on Gadaffi” he will only muddy the waters in Libya and possibly contribute to a complete breakdown of the economic network in Libya.

  2. Vince J.

    Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article at

    “The NYT’s journalistic obedience”
    Very good reading! Muito bom mesmo!

  3. dickerson3870

    RE: “the Libyan air force is now reported to be bombing Tripoli!” – Woodward
    MY SNARK: That is most unfortunate, but if we criticize Gadaffi he might cut off our oil thereby destroying “Our Way of Life”™. And that might put a crimp in “Pricky Dick” Cheney’s lifestyle!
    At any rate, I’m sure it’s all just a misunderstanding. After all, “stuff happens”!

  4. dickerson3870

    RE: “…if he doesn’t stop slaughtering his own people, then Obama will get very upset.” – Woodward
    SUGGESTED EDIT: …if he doesn’t stop slaughtering his own people, then Obama might get the “vapours”. Along with Lyndsey Graham!

  5. DE Teodoru

    Following the contagious Arab youth modernization revolution spread from day to day to even a backwater like Libya leaves me exhilarated, for I recall the feeling I had on 9/11 seeing Muslim youths ready to destroy themselves for a misguided but nevertheless sincere attack against the Western support of corruption of their sense of moral justice. Indoctrinated to criminal blindness to their innocent victims, with a calm and determination that I have only seen in displayed by soldiers in desperate times on a battlefield, they made me sure that– misguided indeed– the Jihadis will some day soon be followed by MODERNISTS youths who better understand the Muslim World’s real problems, putting their lives on the line to bring a better world into being for their surviving little brothers and sisters. We are seeing the other side of Islamic moral strength manifest. By contrast, Hillary’s babble/muddle of DoS’s official line seems to confirm the lesson of history: binLaden was right, AMERICA, AN OIL ADDICT AS AMORAL AS AN ALCOHOLIC, willfully supporting criminal leadership in the Middle East both for cheap oil and for Israel’s comfort.

    But by now alQaeda (Jihad 1.0) faded, degenerating into an entity whose spectrum from psychotics to ideologs to criminals becomes muddled into one ugly smudge that, like the dictators today’s Muslim youths resist, killed far more Muslims than “infidels.” We are witnessing “Jihad 2.0,” manifesting as a secular revolution by the same generation of EDUCATED Muslim youth that Israel still insists will go to the Muslim Brotherhood. Instead, it has– ON ITS OWN– gone to struggle for democracy, with the same fervor, courage and self sacrifice as the shahids of 9/11.

    Using the excuse that all Muslims “hate our freedoms,” on 9/11, Bush and his gang of oil thieves attacked Iraq and devastated it as if he were Sharon attacking Jenin. Yet, recently, a young Tunisian showed that they don’t hate freedom but rather TOTALLY self-sacrifice themselves for it. What they hate is sniveling little oil thieves like Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney, the three stooges running wars off the books for other generation of Americans to pay.

    Lastly, it is good to see that Bush now has the decency to keep quiet. At least he is not as much of a scum as the neocons that attribute this revolutionary current to their post-9/11 anti-Islam crusade. Indeed, they are quiet now, for these Zionist extremists wanted Muslims killed, not democratized. Yet, it is rather foreboding to note that, as the US becomes increasingly disabled and weak, the so-called “Third World” we’ve repeatedly invaded ever since TR has chosen to rise up for the same democracy for which our founders put their lives on the line, while our Nobel laureate president sits mum. Bush’s silence is soothing but Obama’s is infuriating. What in God’s name have these neocons got on him that he betrays all our principles before the UN Security Council as the only veto against denunciation of Israel’s racist lebensraum, betraying our nation and what it stands for?

  6. Norman

    “What in God’s name have these neocons got on him that he betrays all our principals before the U.N. Security Council as the only veto against denunciation of Israel’s racist lebensraum, betraying our nation and what it stands for”? Right off the top of me head, I’d say; he is the first one, probably the last one in this era, that the bullets have names on them, though probably only 2 would be needed. From all the flip flopping he’s done, it shows he hasn’t the guts to stand up and be all that he could be, the most powerful man in the world with his finger on the switch, he is just another one of the weakling who has a price and it will be met as long as he plays along. What a shame for the U.S.A.

  7. John Wafula

    The Libyan implosion was inevitable. Any regime that perpetuates itself in power until toddlers come of age invites the kind of generational schism rocking the Arab world now.

  8. freelibyan

    we (libyan) are sure that no one will do any kind of action against the slaughtering we know that we are alone in this
    and the whole world is just interested in the oil and they stand in the middle then eventually will clap the winner even if it is a devil

    by the way there no stamp for the crimes to tell who committed them

    since Iraq and Gaza certainly there in no freedom in the whole world

    sorry for my bad english

    free libyan

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