Monday, February 21, 2011

Khadafi on the Ropes

A sure sign that a regime is on the ropes is that the ruling thug farms out the press duties to someone else. In Mumar Khadafi's case, he's given his son a higher profile in handling the ongoing crisis and existential threat to his 40+ year rule.

While there are rumors that Khadafi has already fled the country, I'd say that for the moment his regime is definitely on the ropes.

The tribes that make up the majority of the country's population are starting to line up in opposition to Khadafi and there are reports that Khadafi has left the capitol of Tripoli in favor of a more remote location in the country.
1310: Prof Aref Ali Nayed, one of Libya's most senior religious leaders and a member of one of the major tribes in Libya, the Warfla tribe, has told the BBC World Service he now expects the tribes will stand united against the government of Col Gaddafi in this crisis: "All the great tribes of Libya are united. The only thing that divided them was Gaddafi and his regime. A united Libya is a reality that is alive in our blood. That is why you see people in Tripoli taking to the streets without anything in their hands to be shot dead for the sake of their brothers and sisters in the east."
1308: Our correspondent adds: "Hour by hour there are reports of more defections. Almost all major tribal leaders seem to have joined the opposition, as well as important religious leaders, and several senior Libyan ambassadors. The east of the country is already almost entirely out of the hands of the government."
Hundreds of people have been killed in the protests, and the government crackdown.

Khadafi's son is vowing to fight to the last bullet, which is all but assuring a violent end to the Khadafi regime.

Government buildings are aflame in Tripoli and the violence is spreading like waves through the country.
The six-day-old uprising had reached the capital, Tripoli, where government buildings on Monday were in flames and police were noticeably absent from the streets. There were signs of growing disunity within the government and reports that several senior officials had resigned and joined the protesters.

In a rambling, disjointed address delivered about 1 a.m. on Monday, the son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, played down the uprising sweeping the country, which witnesses and rights activists say has left more than 220 people dead and hundreds wounded from gunfire by security forces. He repeated several times that “Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt” — the neighbors to the east and west that both overthrew their veteran autocrats in the space of the last six weeks

The revolt shaking Libya is the latest and most violent turn in the rebellion across the Arab world that seemed unthinkable just two months ago and now poses the greatest threat in four decades to Colonel Qaddafi’s autocratic power. The United States condemned the Qaddafi government’s lethal use of force.

Witnesses in Tripoli interviewed by telephone on Monday said protesters had converged on the capital’s central Green Square and clashed with heavily armed riot police for several hours after Mr. Qaddafi’s speech, apparently enraged by it. Young men armed themselves with chains around their knuckles, steel pipes and machetes, as well as police batons, helmets and rifles commandeered from riot squads. Security forces moved in, shooting randomly.
Things are going downhill at an accelerating rate. While there are report that the Libyan air force has opened fire on the protesters, although two fighter jets and two helicopters sought asylum in Malta.
"I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela," he said, according to Al Arabiya television.

Gadhafi spoke hours after reports that Libyan military aircraft fired live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in Tripoli on Monday.

"What we are witnessing today is unimaginable," Adel Mohamed Saleh, an activist in the capital, told Al Jazeera television. His accounts could not be independently confirmed. "Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead.

"Our people are dying. It is the policy of scorched earth," he said.

Another man, identified only as “Victory,” told after touring Tripoli, “We could hear firing every 15 minutes, I don’t know from where really.”

The accounts came as deep cracks opened in Gadhafi's regime, with diplomats abroad and the justice minister at home resigning, air force pilots defecting and a fire raging at the main government hall after the clashes in the capital Tripoli. Protesters called for another night of defiance in Tripoli's main square despite the government's heavy crackdown.

Arabiya television said the Tripoli clashes Monday left 160 dead.

Human Rights Watch said Monday that at least 233 people had been killed since the protests began last week, but opposition groups put the figure much higher. Most fatalities were in Benghazi, a region where Gadhafi's grip has always been weaker than elsewhere in the oil-producing desert nation.

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