Libya: fear of collapse — ‘we need a no-fly zone’

Jon Lee Anderson writes:

Yesterday, as the government appeared to take control of the western city of Zawiya, Seif al-Islam Qaddafi made a public vow that was extensively texted and retweeted in Libya:

Hear it now, I have only two words for our brothers and sisters in the east: We’re coming.

A Libyan friend reached me by cell phone from Benghazi to ask how things were; people there had heard the news of the crumbling front line and were growing worried, he said. He mentioned the threats made by Seif Qaddafi yesterday. For the first time, it seems, people in “liberated” Libya were beginning to wonder if their freedom was to be short-lived, and if they might soon see Qaddafi’s troops attacking them in Benghazi itself.
There were far fewer reporters and photographers at the front today. We learned that rebel authorities had set up a roadblock outside the city of Ajdabiya—the last before Benghazi—to prevent them from coming to the front. A dozen of us had stayed the night in Brega, however, and were able to reach the front line, where we were immediately accosted by fighters who asked us not to take photographs of them. Zaid, a civil engineer who had accompanied me to the front line from Benghazi, explained: “They believe that the images—especially on television—are helping Qaddafi to find targets to attack.” As the day wore on, though, the fighters’ wariness wore off, and once again they were coming up to anyone who looked foreign to wave “V” signs in front of camera lenses and declare, “Qaddafi majnoun“—crazy—“Where is America?” and “Tell Obama to do something; why hasn’t he done anything? We need a no-fly zone.”

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