The President last Friday, before the bombs started falling:
“Muammar Qaddafi has a choice,” Obama said. “The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Adjadbiya, Misrata and Zawiya; and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.”
That’s pretty emphatic.
As of a few hours ago, the Washington Post ran a piece with this inevitable headline:
Allied strikes pummel Libya’s air force but do little to stop attacks on civilians
From said story:
The Libyan military’s attacks and the mounting civilian deaths call into question whether the internationally imposed no-fly zone can achieve its goal of protecting civilians, let alone help loosen Gaddafi’s grip on power. It seemed unlikely that the coalition, which has argued in recent days over the scope and leadership of the allied mission, would countenance a significant escalation.
President Obama was clear in what the
original mission was for his Libyan adventure–the protection of civilians and a cease-fire. Now we read that the stated goal is not being achieved with the no-fly zone these targeted air strikes.
So now what? Marines wading onto the shores of Tripoli? Really? I’m hoping that this is over and done with as soon as possible, because the longer this goes on, the more the likelihood that the Obama plan is not working and then things will really start to get ugly.
Protesters are swarming the last defenses of the capital:
Clashes have continued on the outskirts of Tripoli for a third consecutive day as Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists attempt to shore up the capital from a rampant anti-government revolution.
Demonstrators at a large opposition rally in Libya’s second city, Benghazi, today received numerous phone calls from frantic relatives in Tripoli who relayed details of ongoing battles nearing the centre of the city.
There were unconfirmed reports today of a major airbase in Tripoli having fallen into opposition hands. If true, it would be a serious blow to the Libyan leader’s attempts to cling to power in the capital. In much of the rest of the country, the battle already appears lost.
Opposition activists have been striving to get their hands on military bases and ammunition, seeking to further weaken the regime of the veteran dictator [...]
Meanwhile, Gaddafi loyalists are staging a pro-government rally. Who knows what’s behind this? An act of defiance, ignorance or just insanity:
In the party of Italian journalists invited to Libya by the authorities is a correspondent of the news agency Ansa. A short while ago he reported that an “imposing” pro-Gaddafi demonstration was under way:
“7-8,000 people have gathered in Green Square with photos of the Libyan leader and the green flags of the Jamahiriya. Ansa was able to verify this on the spot. The square is being watched over by a small number of police.”
Ominously, just a few minutes earlier, the agency filed a dispatch from Rome quoting an eyewitness in Tripoli as saying that Green Square was also the destination of an anti-Gaddafi protest.
With reports of the main airbase in Tripoli being overrun by anti-government protesters, at this point it appears to be a matter of not if but when the regime will fall.
An act of desperation to be sure:
As antigovernment forces and demonstrators draw nearer to Libya’s capital, Tripoli, Col. Muammar Qaddafi appears to be further losing his grip on power.
In an attempt to appease the masses – possibly inspired by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, who promised his subject $36 billion in benefits to stave off any potential revolutionaries – Libya’s besieged leader on Friday pledged a 150 percent increase in some government workers’ wages and promised to give every family $400.
Libyan state television announced the wage increase and said each family would receive $400 to help them cope with the rising food prices. The broadcast aired shortly before Libyans went to mosques for Friday prayers. After prayers, antigovernment protesters are expected to continue demonstrating, reports MSNBC.
The dictator no longer has control of the eastern half of Libya, and from what I’ve seen, that’s the oil-rich half of the country. No doubt
Ghaddafi Qaddafi’s power is was derived from the oil proceeds there. Offering cash to back off the capital is the last gasp of a deranged tyrant.
A remarkable account from inside of Tripoli by Robert Fisk of the UK Independent:
There is little food in Tripoli, and over the city there fell a blanket of drab, sullen rain. It guttered onto an empty Green Square and down the Italianate streets of the old capital of Tripolitania. But there were no tanks, no armoured personnel carriers, no soldiers, not a fighter plane in the air; just a few police and elderly men and women walking the pavements – a numbed populace. [...]
Libyans and expatriates I spoke to yesterday said they thought he was clinically insane, but they expressed more anger at his son, Saif al-Islam. “We thought Saif was the new light, the ‘liberal’”, a Libyan businessman sad to me. “Now we realise he is crazier and more cruel than his father.”
The panic that has now taken hold in what is left of Gaddafi’s Libya was all too evident at the airport. In the crush of people fighting for tickets, one man, witnessed by an evacuated Tokyo car-dealer, was beaten so viciously on the head that “his face fell apart”. Talking to Libyans in Tripoli and expatriates at the airport, it is clear that neither tanks nor armour were used in the streets of Tripoli. Air attacks targeted Benghazi and other towns, but not the capital. Yet all spoke of a wave of looting and arson by Libyans who believed that with the fall of Benghazi, Gaddafi was finished and the country open to anarchy.
[Hat Tip: Memeorandum]