The fight for Libya

Turkey working on ‘roadmap’ to end Libya war
Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey was working on a “roadmap” to end the war in Libya which would include a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Muammar Gaddafi’s forces from some cities.

Turkey has held talks this week with envoys from Gaddafi’s government and representatives of the opposition.

“We are working on the details of this road map,” Prime Minister Erdogan told a news conference on Thursday.

He said a “real ceasefire should be settled immediately” and Gaddafi’s forces should withdraw from besieged cities.

“A comprehensible democratic transformation process that takes into account the legitimate interests of Libyan people should start immediately,” said Erdogan, calling for political reforms.

“The aim of this process should be to settle constitutional order that people freely elect their rulers.” (Al Jazeera)

General says US may consider sending troops into Libya as part of any international force
The U.S. may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, the former U.S. commander of the military mission said Thursday, describing the current operation as a stalemate that is more likely to go on now that America has handed control to NATO.

But Army Gen. Carter Ham also told lawmakers that American participation in a ground force would not be ideal, since it could erode the international coalition attacking Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and make it more difficult to get Arab support for operations in Libya.

He said NATO has done an effective job in an increasingly complex combat situation. But he noted that, in a new tactic, Gadhafi’s forces are making airstrikes more difficult by staging their fighters and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques.

The use of an international ground force is a possible plan to bolster the Libyan rebels, Ham said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Asked whether the U.S. would provide troops, Ham said, “I suspect there might be some consideration of that. My personal view at this point would be that that’s probably not the ideal circumstance, again for the regional reaction that having American boots on the ground would entail.”

President Barack Obama has said repeatedly there will be no U.S. troops on the ground in Libya, although there are reports of small CIA teams in the country.

Pressed by Sen. John McCain, a leading Republican, about the situation in Libya, Ham agreed that a stalemate “is now more likely” since NATO took command. (Associated Press)

Saif Gaddafi: his father’s son, or the would-be face of Libyan reform?
On 19 February Dr Muhammad al-Houni, a Libyan academic and long-time adviser to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, finished a speech he had written for his patron to deliver on state television in the midst of a crisis.

Four days into the Libyan uprising, Houni suggested Saif strike a conciliatory tone. He should apologise for those who had died in the country’s east. He should insist too on the necessity of reforming his father’s four-decades-old regime, announcing a tranche of long-promised laws to usher in new freedoms.

“I wrote down what he must say,” Houni recalled on Thursday. “I said he should say sorry for the victims. But he went to his father and his father did not like it. So his father changed the speech.”

When Saif appeared on television, he looked and sounded every inch his father’s son, waving his finger angrily, and saying the words that have since become notorious: “We will fight until the last man, until the last woman, until the last bullet.”

Houni left Tripoli the following day. Shortly afterwards he issued a furious open letter to his former employer, accusing Saif of “donning his father’s cloak, which is contaminated with 40 years of his deeds”.

Once regarded as the Gaddafi family’s friendly, reform-minded western face, Saif, supported by his brother Saadi, has emerged in the past week as the most visible figure in the regime’s efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict on its own terms.

One influential figure, who knows the regime and members of the Gaddafi family well, is convinced that Saif speaks for the family with his father’s support.

“They are looking for a way out,” said the source. “It makes sense for Libya if there is a good exit [for Gaddafi]. What I understand they are saying is that the sons want to continue playing a political role [after the regime has fallen] by having their own party.

“They would accept an interim government and a transition period. What they will not accept is being forced to leave the country. It is what Saif has been working [on]. It is about getting the sides to sit down together and talk and also about having an exit strategy that is not insulting to Gaddafi: that leaves him but without power. That’s what Saif is fighting for.” (The Guardian)

Nato ‘apologises for hitting Libya rebels’
The commander of Libya’s rebel forces has said Nato apologised for mistakenly hitting a column of rebel tanks near the eastern town of Ajdabiya.

Gen Abdelfatah Yunis said the deadly air strike had occurred despite a warning to Nato that the tanks were being moved to the front line.

Nato said it was investigating the claim, without giving further details.

Rebels said four rebels died, while local doctors told the BBC at least 13 fighters had been killed in the strike. (BBC)

Inside Gaddafi’s dark places: The headquarters of Benghazi’s Revolutionary Committees
On February 17, at the beginning of the revolution, one of the first buildings that demonstrators stormed in Benghazi was the headquarters of the Revolutionary Committees. They razed it.

The Revolutionary Committees (al-lijan al-thawriyah) are Gaddafi’s die-hards. Established in the 1977 as the ideological vanguard of the Green revolution, their members have a reputation as thugs who menace, beat up, and sometimes kill those who take issue with the regime.

Being a Revolutionary Committee member can be lucrative, too. It is widely reported that members special benefits — such as cars and cash payments — for their dirty work. Members have also been promoted to senior government posts, in recognition of their loyalty to the Colonel.

When you see footage of Gaddafi supporters in Tripoli waving green flags with gusto and holding Gaddafi’s portrait aloft, many of those you see are probably Revolutionary Committee members.

Their Benghazi headquarters looks like an outsized high-modernist tepee. A fence in green trim surrounds it. Inside its burnt remains, there is a mural that reflects some of the ideological affinities between Gaddafi’s Third Universal Theory and communism. There are heroic laborers, rockets, and lots of right angles. It wouldn’t look out of place in Minsk.

A few other people are walking through the building, poking around. “Is this your first time in this building?” I ask a man in a black faux-leather jacket, probably in his late 20s.

“Yeah — only Revolutionary Committee members were allowed in this place before. And anyway, I wouldn’t have had any reason to come.”

He seems a little nervous talking about it. I imagine how it must feel being in the burnt-out headquarters of an institution whose name has been associated with fear for as long as you can remember.

I talk to another man, in his early 30s. It’s his first time here too. “You know, the Revolutionary Committee members — they’re not the kind of people you’d want to associate with. If someone introduced me to a friend and said he was a Revolutionary Committee member, I’d stay away from the guy.” He shakes an imaginary hand as if only decorum demands it, and then feigns walking away.

He then explains that many people are still uncomfortable speaking about the Revolutionary Committees. “They’re scared that Gaddafi could come back, you know?”

Fear of die-hards dies hard. (Ryan Calder)

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2 thoughts on “The fight for Libya

  1. Christopher Hoare

    “A comprehensible democratic transformation process that takes into account the legitimate interests of Libyan people should start immediately,” said Erdogan, calling for political reforms.
    This would be a reasonable solution to the crisis, if the Turks can pull it off. If anyone imagines the conditions for arriving at such a solution was possible without first invoking the principals of Responsibility to Protect and chasing the dictator’s forces away from Benghazi and establishing the No-fly Zone they must also imagine they have fairies at the bottom of their garden.

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