The fight for Libya

Reuters reports Gaddafi may be looking for a way out:

Al Jazeera said Gaddafi had proposed to Libyan rebels to hold a meeting of parliament to pave the way for him to step down with certain guarantees.

It said Gaddafi made the proposal to the interim council, which speaks for mostly eastern areas controlled by his opponents. It quoted sources in the council as saying Gaddafi wanted guarantees of personal safety for him and his family and a pledge that they not be put on trial.

Al Jazeera said sources from the council told its correspondent in Benghazi that the offer was rejected because it would have amounted to an “honorable” exit for Gaddafi and would offend his victims.

The London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat and the daily al-Bayan, based in the United Arab Emirates, also cited unnamed sources as saying Gaddafi was looking for an agreement.

A source close to the council told Reuters he had heard that “one formula being proposed by the other side would see Gaddafi hand power to the head of parliament and leave the country with a certain guaranteed sum of money.”

“I was told that this issue of money is a serious obstacle from the national council’s point of view,” he said, adding that his information came from a single source close to the council.

Essam Gheriani, a media officer for the council, said: “No such offer has been put to the council as far as I am aware.”

Haaretz reports:

Long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi said Monday in an interview with TV network France 24 that his violent crackdown on opposition protesters is akin to Israel’s efforts to defend itself from extremism during its 2009 Gaza war against Hamas.

Libya has come under international scrutiny in recent weeks, in response to violent clashes between the Libyan military and anti-Gadhafi rebels, confrontations which caused what are estimated to be hundreds of deaths.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dispatched a team to Tripoli to assess the humanitarian situation in the wake of the Libyan crisis, criticizing the Libya military’s “disproportionate use of force.”

Speaking with France 24 later Monday, however, Gadhafi defended his military’s right to oppress rebel activity, comparing his crackdown to Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2009, saying that “even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists.”

Abigail Hauslohner reports from Ajdabiyah:

The provisional government in Benghazi says it needs time and reinforcements but insists that it is making progress nonetheless. To oversee the ramshackle force, the newly formed National Council appointed a Defense Minister, Omar Hariri, a former general who led an unsuccessful revolt against Gaddafi in 1975. Military officers in Benghazi says Hariri’s appointment will signal a shift to a more organized fighting force.

For the moment, the motley army has an overwhelming, undisciplined spirit in the place of military organization. The young men whoop and yell and set off celebratory gunfire with the slightest excuse. At a checkpoint in Brega on March 4, a blast of heavy machine-gun fire shattered the desert silence even as some men tried to restrain the exuberance of their younger compatriots. Wanis Kilani, an engineer turned volunteer fighter, shakes his head at the chaos. “So much ‘Blah blah blah,’ ” he says. “You know, we can’t prevent them from coming here because they all want to help — even the crazy, the young, even sick people want to help.” He explains, mostly to himself, that it’s a people’s army coming together. “We are not rebels,” he says. “We are mujahedin.”

The word is a loaded one for Westerners, a reminder of the holy warriors of Afghanistan who turned from fighting the Soviet Union to aiding Osama bin Laden. But it bears weight in liberated east Libya as well. Islamic scholars here have said that pious Muslim men in particular were persecuted under Gaddafi, and they may yet be a vocal and determined force in the fight to bring down the dictator. “He tried to stop people from going to dawn prayer because people who do this are very devout,” says Sheik Abdel Hamid Ma’toub, a religious leader in Benghazi. “He knows that the most dangerous people in Libya are those who go to dawn prayers.” That’s because, he says, the men who pray fear God, not Gaddafi.

Caught on open mic: Petraeus and Gates joke about attacking Libya

Print Friendly, PDF & Email