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.
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.”
“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.