To all those who argued that NATO’s involvement would irredeemably taint the Libyan revolution, here’s an idea that could be too much to wrap your mind around.
Look at the ongoing struggle in Syria, the brutally crushed revolution in Bahrain, the unfinished revolution in Egypt and then consider this possibility: Libya may turn out to be the first Arab country that really gets a fresh start.
No doubt it will be messy and who’s to say where it might lead, but Libya now appears to be on the brink of getting a chance to rebuild itself not only free from a dictatorial hand but also free from the regime through which that hand extended its power.
It might not quite all be over — Gaddafi’s death, departure or capture will be the final act — but the idea that Gaddafi’s supporters formed one side in a civil war looks flimsier than ever. MSNBC reports:
Libyan rebels moved into the capital Tripoli on Sunday and came within two miles of the city center, as Moammar Gadhafi’s defenders melted away. The rebel leadership said Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent Seif al-Islam has been arrested.
Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they met little resistance as they moved from the western outskirts into the capital in a dramatic turning of the tides in the 6-month-old Libyan civil war. The rebels took control of one neighborhood, Ghot Shaal, on the western edge of the city. They set up checkpoints as rebel trucks rolled into Tripoli.
One of the rebels, Mohammed al-Zawi, 30, said he was in a convoy of more than 10 trucks that entered Ghot Shaal. He said they progressed as far as the neighborhood of Girgash, about a mile and a half from Green Square, where Gadhafi supporters have gathered nightly throughout the uprising to rally for their leader of more than 40 years.
He said the rebels came under fire from a sniper on a rooftop in the neighborhood.
“They will enter Green Square tonight, God willing,” al-Zawi said.
Sidiq al-Kibir, the rebel leadership council’s representative for the capital Tripoli, confirmed the arrest of Seif al-Islam to the AP but did not give any further details.
Earlier, Gadhafi said he will stay in Tripoli “until the end” and called on his supporters around the country to help liberate the capital from a rebel offensive.
He said in an audio message played over state television he was “afraid that Tripoli will burn” and he said he would provide weapons to supporters to fight off the rebels.
Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they reached the Tripoli suburb of Janzour around nightfall Sunday. They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags. Hours earlier, the same rebel force of hundreds drove out elite forces led by Gadhafi’s son Khamis in a brief gunbattle.
The elated fighters danced and cheered, hauling off truckloads of weapons and advanced full speed toward the capital in pickup trucks. Ahmed al-Ajdal, 27, a fighter from Tripoli, was loading up a truck with ammunition.
“This is the wealth of the Libyan people that he was using against us,” he said, pointing to his haul. “Now we will use it against him and any other dictator who goes against the Libyan people.”
NATO called the situation in Libya “very fluid” on Sunday as rebel fighters streamed into the capital Tripoli, and said the rule of Gadhafi was “crumbling.”
How could the rebels make such a rapid advance? Because Gaddafi loyalists eventually realized they were supporting a lost cause. They have nothing to fight for.
What now? Are Libyans about to create a Western-friendly liberal democracy? No one in Washington or the other NATO capitals has the faintest idea. And that’s the point.
All those who see the heavy hand of Western imperialism shaping events have a distorted perception of how much power the US and the West are really able to exert. Sure, there’s no limit on how much power they want to exert, but at the end of the day their power has very real limits and as we will see, Libya’s future will be determined by the people on the ground — not those in the sky.