The New York Times reports:
A bold effort by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to prove that he was firmly in control of Libya appeared to backfire Saturday as foreign journalists he invited to the capital discovered blocks of the city in open revolt.
Witnesses described snipers and antiaircraft guns firing at unarmed civilians, and security forces were removing the dead and wounded from streets and hospitals, apparently in an effort to hide the mounting toll.
When government-picked drivers escorted journalists on tours of the city on Saturday morning, the evidence of the extent of the unrest was unmistakable. Workers were still hastily painting over graffiti calling Colonel Qaddafi a “bloodsucker” or demanding his ouster. Just off the tour route were long bread lines where residents said they were afraid to be seen talking to journalists.
And though heavily armed checkpoints dominated some precincts of the city, in other neighborhoods the streets were blocked by makeshift barricades of broken televisions, charred tree trunks and cinder blocks left over from protests and street fights the night before.
“I have seen more than 68 people killed,” said a doctor who gave his name only as Hussein. “But the people who have died, they don’t leave them in the same place. We have seen them taking them in the Qaddafi cars, and nobody knows who there are taking the people who have died.” He added, “Even the ones with just a broken hand or something they are taking away.”
In some ways, the mixed results of Colonel Qaddafi’s publicity stunt — opening the curtains to the world with great fanfare, even though the stage is in near-chaotic disarray — is an apt metaphor for the increasingly untenable situation in the country.
On Friday, before the journalists arrived, his forces put down a demonstration in the capital only after firing on the protesters. There were reports that an armed rebel force was approaching the city on Saturday, but Colonel Qaddafi’s forces are believed to have blocked the way at the city of Surt, a stronghold of his tribe.
He is no longer in full control of the countryside either. Rebels now control about half the populous Mediterranean coast, including the strategic towns of Zawiyah and Misurata, not far from the capital and near important oil facilities.
Misurata (225km east of Tripoli) – Rally in front of the People’s Hall after city is liberated:
Press TV reports:
The youngest son of the embattled ruler Muammar Gaddafi has joined the pro-democracy protesters in Libya amid an unabated outpouring of rage against Gaddafi, reports say.
According to the reports, Saif al-Arab, Gaddafi’s youngest son, who was sent by his father to cooperate with Libyan security forces in the massive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters joined forces with the demonstrators in the eastern city of Benghazi on Thursday.
Saif al-Arab, who is widely regarded as the most low-profile of Gaddafi’s sons have also hinted that his father would commit suicide or flee to Latin America in the face of rising public outcry over his tyrannical rule.
Saif al-Arab is said to have had the backing of combat troops and had military equipment that was dispatched to the eastern parts of turmoil-hit Libya.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi spent most of his 41 year-regime trying to sideline the country’s tribes. That may be something he’s now regretting as his power unravels.
Akram al-Qarfalli, a senior member of the Warfalla tribe, on Feb. 20 announced it was withdrawing support from Qaddafi, saying “he is no longer a brother.” The Al-Zawiya tribe threatened to halt the flow of oil if Qaddafi doesn’t stop killing protesters. By Feb. 23 most tribes were united in their opposition, says former interior minister, Abdul Fattah Younis.
“The tribes are powerful, especially outside urban centers,” said Charles Gurdon, a Libya analyst and managing director of the London-based Menas Associates political risk consulting firm, in a phone interview. “The fact the majority of them are now opposed to Qaddafi is probably the last nail in the coffin.”
Tribal loyalties form the bedrock of Libyan society. While Qaddafi says the patchwork of more than 100 tribes makes a slide into civil war inevitable if he’s ousted, academics and opposition members say they have been key in uniting Libyans against the regime and will help shape the country’s political future.
Citing human rights abuses against peaceful demonstrators in Libya, President Barack Obama late Friday ordered that all the assets of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, his children and their wives be frozen in the United States, or in branches of U.S. banks.
The order comes as Gadhafi is losing his grip on power against massive opposition in his oil-rich nation, which began on Feb. 15. Eyewitnesses reported murders and abductions by Gadhafi’s security forces and by hired mercenaries from other African nations.
“I . . . find that there is a serious risk that Libyan state assets will be misappropriated by Gadhafi, members of his government, members of his family, or his close associates if those assets are not protected, ” Obama said in the order.
And in a statement, Obama said: “By any measure, Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable. These sanctions therefore target the Qaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.”
The New York Times reports:
One day after the United States closed its embassy in Tripoli and imposed unilateral sanctions against Libya, the United Nations Security Council prepared to meet in New York on Saturday to consider imposing international sanctions, including an arms embargo and an asset freeze and travel ban against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, his relatives and key members of his government.
Ahead of the meeting, diplomats from the United States, France, Germany and Britain circulated a draft resolution that also called for the referral of the violent crackdown in Libya to the International Criminal Court to investigate possible crimes against humanity.
But Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned that sanctions would do more harm to Libya’s people than to Colonel Qaddafi, the Associated Press reported. He added: “We call on the international community to act with conscience, justice, laws and universal humane values — not out of oil concerns.”
The international community was being spurred to action by Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general, who gave a dire description of the continuing violence against protesters in Libya on Friday, as well as an emotional plea from the Libyan ambassador to help his countrymen.
“Please United Nations, save Libya,” Ambassador Mohammed Shalgham told fellow diplomats in New York on Friday, as he publicly broke with the Qaddafi government. “I tell my brother Qaddafi, leave the Libyans alone.”