Hana El-Gallal, a law professor from Benghazi, writes:
The global community must act to stop Gaddafi and his forces reaching Benghazi. If he gets here, he will kill everyone. We in Benghazi, in what is left of Free Libya, have a very simple message for the Security Council. Please, do something. We are desperate for your help and you must do it now. It is the time to act and if you don’t there will be genocide. We are called rebels, but we are not rebels. We are a people that simply wants the same freedoms and liberties enjoyed by the people in the West. For 42 years, one man and his family have denied the people of Libya their dignity.
Whenever he gets to Benghazi, he will deny us our lives too.
Days ago, a no-fly zone could have been imposed and that would have helped. It would still help, but now it may be too late. Even so, it is not too late to help to stop him reaching us.
There are soldiers here, willing to fight for us, but we have no weapons. We are walking around gathering up what we can use to defend ourselves. I am a mother, not a member of al-Qa’ida; not a mujahideen. But when Gaddafi gets to Benghazi, I will have to be a fighter, not only to defend myself and my family, but also to defend the dignity of a people who have told the tyrant that has raped our country to go.
The world needs to know this will not happen unless we get help. We are a brave people and we will fight. But we will also lose without the help of the rest of the world. And if the international community does not act, it will remain of the conscience of the people that did nothing. China, with your riches; America, with your power; Europe, with your history – you will all be guilty of standing aside and letting Gaddafi massacre his innocent people. We did not want to fight, but we were forced to, and now, in our moment of need, we are calling for the world to come together and defend us from this evil man. It has been said the Libyan people do not want foreign troops on our soil, but which country does? Now it is too late for these arguments. Libya is not Iraq: it is full of desperate people and if the international community decides to send its armies, they will be greeted with joy; a joy that will replace what is now a growing sense of hopelessness.
We pray that our brothers and sisters can hold Ajdabiya. Gaddafi says that he has taken the town, but we know that our friends are still fighting for their lives, even if we know in our hearts that they won’t be able to hold on forever without assistance. And when Ajdabiya falls, there is then nothing to stop Gaddafi and his thugs reaching us here in Benghazi. We are all so frightened of what he will do when he gets here. We are all going to die.
We are all desperately waiting for the UN, or Nato, or the EU or anyone to act. Even the Arab League has called for action – what more of an invitation do people want? It the first time that the Arab League has called for action against one of its members: we have heard the call, but God knows that we have to see the action. We all know intervening in the affairs of another state is a controversial act. The world was sick when it released that inaction led to the deaths of thousands in Rwanda; the world said “never again”. That was only 15 years ago and, without urgent action, what happened in Rwanda will be repeated on the streets of Benghazi, maybe as soon as tomorrow.
We have all heard the speeches of Gaddafi and his sons: does the international community really believe that we are al-Qa’ida and on drugs? It will know that answer soon enough when, after Gaddafi reaches Benghazi, the pictures of our murdered children are shown around the world.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge, U.S. and Libyan rebel officials said.
The shipments—mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition—appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters. Those fighters have been losing ground for days in the face of a steady westward advance by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The Egyptian shipments are the strongest indication to date that some Arab countries are heeding Western calls to take a lead in efforts to intervene on behalf of pro-democracy rebels in their fight against Mr. Gadhafi in Libya. Washington and other Western countries have long voiced frustration with Arab states’ unwillingness to help resolve crises in their own region, even as they criticized Western powers for attempting to do so.
The Independent reports:
Even as the votes to take on the Libyan regime were cast last night, the battle for Benghazi had begun. Col Gaddafi’s warplanes carried out several strikes on the city as artillery volleys started to come in from units approaching from several directions.
The skies above were lit up by constant streams of anti-aircraft fire. Rebel fighters, buoyed by reports that the vote in New York had gone for military action, began to stream towards the western gates of the city.
Even as the violence flared they believed that, at last – a month to the day after Libya’s revolution began – their only realistic hope of avoiding defeat at the hands of the regime had finally come true. But there is a fierce battle ahead. The firefights took place with the constant background sound of mosques in the city playing chants of “Allah hu Akhbar” at high decibel through loudspeakers. The chant was taken up by the rebel fighters, the Shabbab, as they traded fire. Many of the exchanges were chaotic with heavy calibre guns used at random. Flames appeared in parts of the city with black smoke blending into the night sky.
Down below, however, Benghazi was a bright target for the warplanes. No attempt had been made to dim the lights in any of the public buildings in the centre and residential areas also lit up as people came out to windows and balconies to watch the action with some women ululating. The mood of the rebel fighters, who had suffered repeated defeats in recent weeks and had been forced to withdraw from town after town was buoyant. As he manned his anti-aircraft gun, Selim Astersi shouted: “The devil Gaddafi wants to come into Benghazi, we shall throw him back. Tonight we shall prove ourselves. We shall avenge all those he killed.”
Khalid Ibrahimi stopped his truck, carrying five fighters in the back, to ask: “Is it true that they have voted [at the UN] yes ? That is what we needed my brothers, we have got help at last.” At just after 1am local time, two explosions echoed through the waterfront followed by machine-gun fire. Shabaab fighters claimed infiltrators had come into the city but it seemed more likely that some ammunition had detonated.