The Battle for Tripoli

After months of what has been described as a stalemate, the swiftness of the events in the last few days has been nothing short of amazing. The opposition force in Libya, often described as “rag-tag” has taken the majority of Tripoli and they have now overrun the Bab al-Aziziya compound. The battle there had lasted something like 5 hours, yet when it was breached there was no one in sight. The battle is not over by a long shot because it is more than likely that Gadhafi has made his way to his home town of Sabha, surrounded by forces that remain loyal. The BBC reports that these are people that he paid to come to Libya and that he granted them citizenship.

The opposition has reported that the forces in the east have taken Las Ranuf (again) and that the regime loyalists have retreated from Brega. However, like most reports that we have seen in the past 6 months, these should be treated with caution.

Another scene of intense fighting has been around the Rixos hotel, where the foreign journalists that have been allowed in by the Daffy Duck regime have been sequestered. The journalists are now wearing battle gear to protect themselves and they have moved themselves to the upper floors of the hotel. They have reported that their minders and their translators have disappeared. I wonder if there is any sign of Libya’s version of Baghdad Bob, he has been quiet over the last few days – perhaps he has fled to Sabha.

My question here is: why the stalemate? Why the sudden reversal? It seems to boil down to the assassination of General Younes. Perhaps I am reading too much into what he might have been doing, but it seems like the man had committed an act of treason, and that he was relaying information to Gadhafi on battle tactics etc, so that Gadhafi always had the answers. Another possible answer to the question is that Khamis Ghadafi, the one in charge of the elite Khamis Brigade was killed in an air raid at Zlitan, meaning that the troops who did in fact want to defect were free to switch sides. However, there is another answer, and it is one that explains why yet another elite brigade surrendered when the opposition reached their base. The general in charge had a motive to help bring about the end of Gadhafi.

Yet, there are other reasons to be taken into account. Propaganda: who won the propaganda wars? It seems at least for now that the opposition has gained the upper hand with the propaganda wars, and the positive proof is the manner in which the opposition had announced that they had arrested both Saif and Saadi Gadhafi. Mohammed Gadhafi was not arrested. He had surrendered, but then he escaped his house arrest. The news that Saif al-Islam Gadhafi had been arrested spurred on many who had been fighting with the regime to surrender. It was a piece of cake and it seems to have worked. Saif’s appearance later on caused consternation, but he had already lost  the upper hand as at least 80% of Tripoli was in the hands of the opposition.

The siege and breech of the Gadhafi compound is further proof of the fall of the Daffy Duck regime. Since there are underground tunnels, it is more than likely that Daffy has escaped to Sabha for his last stand. In the meantime the people of Tripoli and the opposition forces from Misrata as well as from the western mountains have entered the compound. Just like in Baghdad, the statues of Daffy Duck have fallen and crashed to the ground. The statue of the golden hand has been smashed. The people have raided and taken possession of objects found within the Daffy Duck house. I would use the word looting, but Daffy Duck stole the money from the Libyan people by living in absolute opulence and keeping many of them very poor.

This story is not over by a long shot. The battles continue, and already there have been scud missiles being fired from Sirte. On top of that the UN has to keep an eye on the chemical weapons that still exist in Libya.

The rat has fallen from power, but what we do not know at this point in time is whether or not there will be bigger rats to take his place. We should not be afraid to express our uncertainty about the opposition to the regime. We do not know how many are in fact Islamists. Only time will tell whether or not the NTC is for real with its claims that it wants Libya to be a democratic society. I doubt that the government will be totally secular… maybe it might emulate Turkey. We shall just have to wait and see.



About Aussie

Married with children. Bachelor of Economics and Commerce, Melb 1975
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