Celebratory explosions in Tripoli?

In a telephone address to the Libyan people, Muammar Gaddafi appealed to them to “Go forward, go forward,” and he then hung up. An advance is indeed under way, but not the one Brother Muammar was asking for.

“If you can call any mobile number in Tripoli, you will hear in the background the beautiful sound of the bullets of freedom,” Anwar Fekini, a rebel leader from the mountainous region in western Libya, told the New York Times yesterday.

Phone calls to several Tripoli residents from different neighborhoods confirmed widespread gunfire and explosions. And there were reports of frequent NATO jet overflights and airstrikes — a common accompaniment to the drumbeat of the rebel advance in the past week.

But a report from Russia Today has a different angle. “[E]yewitnesses say the gunfire is sporadic and the explosions heard are victory celebrations of Gaddafi loyalists.”

Apparently the RT website does have some kind of editorial review since that line doesn’t appear in later version of this report. I guess even the most stalwart Gaddafi sympathizers have a hard time believing Gaddafi loyalists are detonating victory bombs.

Mahdi Nazemroaya, reporting for RT, says that the mainstream media is part of the NATO war machine, so I guess reports about Gaddafi’s imminent defeat, the continued defection of senior officials, and now large anti-government protests inside Tripoli are all just part of the misinformation campaign designed to demoralize Gaddafi’s supporters. And I guess if you subscribe to the notion that most of the reports coming out of Libya right now are misinformation, there’s no point reading any more of this post.

Taher, a resident and fighter close to the center of Tripoli, tells Al Jazeera that those inside the city now rising up against Gaddafi forces are not getting the support from NATO that they want — so much for the idea that everything now taking place is being choreographed by NATO.

The Guardian reports:

The fighting in Tripoli comes after days of battlefield defeats left Muammar Gaddafi’s government and troops penned ever more tightly in the besieged capital. Although the scale of the clashes was impossible to determine, there were widespread claims among the Libyan rebels that Gaddafi’s 41-year rule was edging ever closer to collapse.

As gunfire was still audible outside, a government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, told reporters the incidents were “isolated” and short-lived. He blamed “armed gangs” of a few dozen rebels who had sneaked into Tripoli, including foreign mercenaries, some of whom had been captured.

“Sure, there were some armed militants who escaped into some neighbourhoods and there were some scuffles, but we dealt with it within a half hour and it is now calm,” the spokesman said.

He added: “I ensure Libyans that Gaddafi is your leader … Tripoli is surrounded by thousands to defend it.”

Later in the evening news agencies in Tripoli reported that the sound of gunfire appeared to diminish – although why was not clear. “It has become much less,” said a Reuters reporter. “Almost a minute went by without the sound of gunfire.”

Two Tripoli residents in different parts of the city also said the sound of shooting, which earlier had been intense, had subsided, suggesting Gadaffi’s forces remained largely in control. The reports of clashes in Tripoli came in the midst of a febrile mood among rebel forces, who swapped rumours and fired weapons in celebration, convinced that Gaddafi’s days are almost over.

One of the few things that was certain was that the long anticipated battle for Tripoli itself – if not here yet – was coming closer.

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4 thoughts on “Celebratory explosions in Tripoli?

  1. rosemerry

    You really think Aljazeera and the Guardian are reliable sources?

    Since the USUKFrance “democracies” are determined to go on bombing a country until the leader is killed or quits, it is hardly surprising that the fighting is going their way at last. What will they do when the “rebels” rule this devastated land, formerly with the highest living standard in Africa?

  2. Colm O' Toole

    /Agree with Rosemerry.

    However something doesn’t sit right with the developments of the last few days. I don’t think this war is even close to being over. I’m wondering what is going on when for the last few weeks the rebels couldn’t take Brega (pop 7,000) and only 125 from Benghazi.

    Now a week later they have seized Surman (pop 25,000) and Az Zawiyah (pop 91,000) and Gharyan (pop 87,000) all on the opposite side of Libya from Benghazi. If I was to guess I would say Gaddaffi has decided against fighting in the open desert roads where NATO bombs could hit and instead withdrawn to Tripoli for urban warfare.

    But to be clear something is up when rebels couldn’t hold Brega (7,000) a week ago and are now talking about taking Tripoli (1 Million). It just doesn’t make sense. Also most sources I read said that Gaddaffi has support of the majority of tribes including the largest tribe Warfalla. So where the hell are Gaddaffi’s troops?

    Every single major news outlet last week seemed to accept that Libya was a stalemate. Now seemingly out of nowhere Tripoli is surronded? With no media asking how it got to be this way? Suspicious and deceptive is how I would sum up the sitution in Libya.

  3. John Somebody

    The, “highest living standard in Africa”, surely if it applies to Libyans, must only be those Libyans being bribed by the insane, “King of Africa”, aka, “King of Kings” declared to be such by insane, bribed followers. Surely it could not be a reference to those living in the slums of Benghazi, negelcted by Gaddawful zealots, 42 years ?

  4. Christopher Hoare

    Dear me, could Uncle Curly be losing his propaganda war? Suddenly the Libyan people are not believing his lies and have started the last phase of freeing themselves from him? ‘Stalemate’ was no more than a lull while strength was gathered.

    Al Jazeera and Guardian are not parroting the Qaddhafi line and so they must be telling lies? Sounds as if the ghost of the Comintern is stirring again. One has to wonder what some people use for judgment—it sounds like wishful thinking to me. What is so difficult about accepting that he is so hated by the Libyan people that they will sacrifice their lives to get rid of him?

    If this is truly the last phase in a civil war I’d suggest that humanity is winning. For once in a long time the Americans, the Brits, and the French are acting to stop a genocidal maniac—the first time since they overthrew Hitler. (Where are their allies the Russians? Vlad Putin is with the tyrants?)
    The lives of those murdered in Rwanda, in Srebenica, and elsewhere are celebrated in the advance of a UN committment to Responsibility to Protect. It only needs one more step forward to create a permanent UN emergency force to act when any petty dictator turns against his people and scum like Uncle Curly, Mugabe, Idi Amin and their underlings could be wiped from the face of the Earth.

    The true commitment of progressives everywhere should be to social justice, and if they accept the assistance of the old imperialists to get there, then so be it. No villain is wrong all the time, as Qaddhafi’s original constitution testifies—but one must be prepared to let go of ones heroes when they cease to respect their common humanity with those they deride as ‘rats’.

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