In Libya, delusion makes a last stand

John Burns writes:

[T]he Qaddafi dictatorship is unusual for its lack of rigor and efficiency. In Libya, at least in the two-thirds of the country not yet lost to the rebels, a dictatorship that has all the standard instruments of suppression and fear seems in some measure to have lost the power to command the fealty of its citizens. This seems true not just in areas controlled by the rebels, and not alone in the areas of Tripoli like Tajura, Souk al-Juma and Feshloom that were fountainheads of the uprising’s early weeks and where an active underground survived the sustained use of live fire against protesters in February and early March. Now it seems broadly true among the population at large.

Over several weeks in Tripoli, it has been commonplace to encounter, at random, Libyans ready to speak openly of their contempt for Colonel Qaddafi, and enthusiastically about NATO’s ability to bomb targets associated with the most sensitive strongholds of the government. To be sure, there were others, in many places, who offered a ritual defense of him, and a loathing of the rebels. But the much more common response — in bookshops and cafes, in hospitals and hotels, and in the mosques and souks that crowd the winding alleyways of the old Ottoman heart of Tripoli down by the city’s ancient port — was to hail the day when the Libyan leader would be consigned to what Trotsky called the dustbin of history.

There was, for example, an educated, English-speaking young man, Muhammad (not his real name, for his own protection), who met this reporter as he sauntered along an alleyway in the Medina, not far from the hole-in-the-wall store where he sells vegetables while hoping for a better job. Smoking a cigarette, he reacted dismissively as a pickup truck packed with pro-Qaddafi demonstrators drove past on one of the few drivable passageways through the district, shouting the Libyan leader’s name, waving placards bearing his image and hoisting automatic rifles in the air. “They pay them 10 dinars a day to do that,” he said. “It means nothing.” Asked what outcome he would favor, he smiled. “Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream, a dream for Libya,” he said. “Victory is coming. With Qaddafi gone, everything will be O.K.”

Al Jazeera reports:

Libyan officials say a number of civilians have been killed in a NATO air strike in eastern Tripoli in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Reporters were taken by Libyan government officials to a residential area in the city’s Arada neighbourhood and saw a body pulled out of the rubble of a destroyed building.

“There was intentional and deliberate targeting of the civilian houses,” Khaled Kaim, Libya’s deputy foreign minister, said.

“This is another sign of the brutality of the West.”

There were heaps of rubble and chunks of shattered concrete at the scene, which a large crowd of what appeared to be local residents were helping to clear.

Reuters reports:

Rebels waging a drawn-out war to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have run out of money, their oil chief said on Saturday, and he accused the West of failing to keep its promises of urgent financial aid.

His comments came as cracks were appearing in the NATO alliance over its 3-month bombing campaign against Gaddafi, with some allies showing mission fatigue and the United States accusing some European allies of failing to pull their weight.

The rebels have made several gains in the past few weeks, but remain far from seizing their ultimate prize — Gaddafi’s powerbase of Tripoli and its hinterland — despite air support from the world’s most powerful military alliance.

“We are running out of everything. It’s a complete failure. Either they (Western nations) don’t understand or they don’t care. Nothing has materialized yet. And I really mean nothing,” rebel oil chief Ali Tarhouni said in an interview with Reuters.

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2 thoughts on “In Libya, delusion makes a last stand

  1. Christopher Hoare

    It’s easy, Susan. They get 10 Dinars apiece. (Who counted these demonstrators—the three blind mice?)
    The free reporters in Qadhafi’s Tripoli all have reported that they are only alowed to visit staged demonstrations put on by the regime. They also report that the green flag wavers are payed to do it.

    How much are you being paid to slag the UN sanctioned humanitarian mission?

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