Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, February 2011
Demonstrations Continue in Tripoli Despite Attacks by Remnants of Dictatorial Forces, All Other Libyan Cities Are Free
February 25, 2011
News summary and commentary
By Hassan El-Najjar
Aljazeera TV has been covering the Libyan Revolution continuously day and night, with Libyan journalists, officials, and citizens becoming Aljazeera reporters. The Channel's is now broadcasting from the free eastern cities.
By its 10th day, the Libyan Revolution has succeeded in controlling all the country except the headquarters of the dictator and his remaining troops in Tripoli.
Protests broke out after the Friday prayer all over Tripoli but were attacked with live bullets from the dictator's loyal forces.
At 9:22 am, ET, today, Aljazeera TV aired footage from downtown Tripoli, the Main Post Office Square, where protesters were carrying casualties of the dead and injured, chanting that "Martyrs are beloved by God."
Other main demonstrations broke out in Fashloom, Souq Al-Juma'a, Al-Shat Road, Zawiat Al-Dahmani, Tajoura, and 'Aradah, with attacks by live bullets against demonstrators. In one case, an eyewitness said that African mercenaries drove an ambulance to carry casualties in a surprise attack against protesters. When the ambulance back door was open, the mercenaries started firing at the protesters.
The military police joined a large demonstration, about 20,000-30.000, leaving Tajoura and moving towards downtown Tripoli, the Green Square.
Almost all Libyan armed forces are not under the dictator's control, the most recent one was the Mu'aitiqa air base near Tripolic, which announced siding with the Revolution.
Many Libyan officials, particularly cabinet members, army commanders, and diplomats abroad, even the dictator's cousin, announced their resignation or joining the revolution against the brutal regime of Mu'ammer Al-Qaddafi.
It seems that the third Arab revolution against dictatorship is successful. Arabs in other states can't wait to see the final victory of the Libyan revolution, so they focus on the fourth Arab revolution, which has started forcefully in Yemen for weeks now. Protests broke out also today throughout Iraq, in 14 out of 18 provinces of the country.
Protests also broke out in Amman, Jordan, calling for changing the regime into a constitutional monarchy, instead of the current despotic monarch.
Egyptian protesters, guardians of the second Arab popular revolution, came back to the Tahrir Square calling for the befalling of the Shafiq government and protesting the slowness of the pace of change.
Tunisian protesters, guardians of the first Arab popular revolution, came back to the Square of Qasr Al-Baladiya, the local government palace square, demanding change of the transitional government and expediting the process of the revolutionary change.
We are living in a wonderful time indeed!
Arabs have rejected oppression, poverty, and corruption, imposed on them by the brutal dictatorial regimes of the Zionist Empire.
Videos from various Libya cities, February 19-20, 2011:
Libya's divided capital: Face to face with Gaddafi's militiamen
Fabrizio Caccia in Tripoli The Guardian,
Friday 25 February 2011
People wait at Tripoli's international airport for flights out of Libya. Photograph: AP
Cars with green flags in their windows flash past on the motorway, sounding their horns, just so you know this is Tripoli – the city still loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. But here too there is a settling of accounts in the air.
This is a divided city, of contrasting moods: the mob escaping at the airport and the frenzy of those who remain. But in everyone's eyes you can sense the ferocity of recent days.
Then the traffic comes to a standstill. A lorry halts, followed by the cars, as if they were all obeying a single command. Yet there are no traffic lights.
Suddenly, young government militiamen appear in the middle of the road, armed with sub-machine guns. These are Gaddafi's fanatics, furious with his enemies and ready to die for him. There are also some uniformed police officers but they seem awed by the militiamen's self-confidence and let them do what they wish.
They make straight for us – seven Italian journalists crammed into two cars, which we hired with difficulty at the airport and which are in the hands of drivers who have, understandably, no desire to bust through a roadblock.
The militiamen open the doors, aggressively, and push us out.
"I'm Italian," I say, showing my passport with the visa, and giving the hint of a friendly smile. But on hearing the word "Italian" one of them flies into a terrible rage. He screams something in Arabic and punches me in the face, sending my glasses flying.
Then they search my pockets, take my satellite telephone and order me into a hut by the side of the road, where I fear the beating could end badly.
Luckily – thanks to the intervention of my colleagues, who manage to explain to the group that we are harmless – things are sorted out. We're given back our money and satellite phones and the young man who hit me sticks out a hand in apology – I shake it.
The incident is symptomatic of an angry city where nerves are at breaking point, a city that feels itself surrounded. Near where the militiamen stopped us is the Bab al-Azizia barracks, the stronghold from which Gaddafi is launching his counter-offensive.
And yet so many are getting out. For days now the international airport has been an apocalyptic encampment of Egyptians, Eritreans, Tunisians and others. The face of Gaddafi looms over the check-in area from dozens of posters where half of Africa seems to be pressing to leave.
Almost 10,000 people are sleeping in the open on tattered blankets and carpets and defending themselves as best they can from a cold wind that shreds the palm trees. Some pay bribes to the police to gain a few places in the queue. The banks have run out of money and the only way to buy dinars is on the black market.
• Fabrizio Caccia is a special correspondent of the daily Corriere della Sera, one of nine Italian journalists invited to Tripoli by the Libyan embassy in Rome
Libyans hold mass protests in push to oust leader
By PAUL SCHEMM and BASSEM MROUE Associated Press
Feb 25, 2011, 7:36 AM EST
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) --
Thousands of Libyans demanding Moammar Gadhafi's ouster rallied to show solidarity with the besieged capital, while the government moved to tighten its grip on Tripoli following opposition gains elsewhere in the country.
Tanks and checkpoints lined the road leading to Tripoli's airport, and security cordons went up around mosques where protesters might gather. Young armed men, some wearing green bands on their arms in a sign of loyalty to Gadhafi, checked vehicles for weapons.
Foreign mercenaries and Libyan militiamen loyal to Gadhafi have fought fiercely to roll back the uprising against his rule, attacking two nearby cities Thursday in battles that killed at least 17 people. But rebels made new gains, seizing a military air base, as Gadhafi blamed Osama bin Laden for the upheaval.
A Tripoli resident said people in the capital have received messages on their cell phones urging them to launch demonstrations after Friday prayers, and he said he expected thousands to comply despite fear of pro-Gadhafi militiamen who have been deployed on the streets.
The capital's central Green Square was the site of intense clashes earlier in the week between government supporters and protesters.
The resident said the government detained several activists in Tripoli late Thursday to try to prevent the demonstrations from taking place. Among those detained was Mukhtar al-Mahmoudi, a former member of Libya's Muslim Brotherhood, who in the past spent six years in jail, the resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
"Let us make this Friday the Friday of liberation," one of the messages read, according to the resident.
Gadhafi's crackdown - the harshest by any Arab leader in the wave of protests that has swept the Middle East the past month - has so far helped him maintain control of Tripoli, home to about a third of Libya's 6 million population. But the uprising has divided the country and raised the specter of civil war.
Signaling continued defiance, Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam, vowed his family will "live and die in Libya," according an excerpt from an interview to be aired later Friday on CNNTurk. Asked about alternatives in the face of growing unrest, Gadhafi said "Plan A is to live and die in Libya, Plan B is to live and die in Libya, Plan C is to live and die in Libya.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch has put the death toll in Libya at nearly 300, according to a partial count. Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said estimates of some 1,000 people killed were "credible."
Residents in Tripoli have largely been holed up at home for days amid fear of pro-Gadhafi militiamen - a mix of Libyans and foreign mercenaries - and it was unclear how many would respond to the call.
But witnesses in cities under rebel control said they expected mass demonstrations in a show of solidarity.
Tens of thousands gathered outside a courthouse for prayer services in the eastern city of Benghazi, the coastal city where the uprising began on Feb. 15. Tents - some with photographs of people who had been killed in fighting - were set up on the square and protesters served breakfast to people, many carrying signs in Arabic and Italian.
"We will not stop this rally until Tripoli is the capital again," said Omar Moussa, a demonstrator. "Libyans are all united ... Tripoli is our capital. Tripoli is in our hearts."
A few tanks that were parked on the beach were covered with people.
Muslim cleric Sameh Jaber, wearing the traditional Libyan white robe and a red cap, told worshippers that Libyans "have revolted against injustice" and called for revenge against Gadhafi "because of what he did to the Libyan people."
International momentum also has been building for action to punish Gadhafi's regime for the bloodshed.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said Friday that the bloc needs to consider sanctions such as travel restrictions and an asset freeze against Libya to achieve a halt to the violence there and move toward democracy.
NATO's main decision-making body also planned to meet in emergency session Friday to consider the deteriorating situation, although Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the alliance has no intention of intervening in the North African nation.
The U.N.'s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, meanwhile, said reports of mass killings of thousands in Libya should spur the international community to "step in vigorously" to end the crackdown against anti-government protesters.
Most of the eastern half of Libya has already broken away, and diplomats, ministers and even a high-ranking cousin who was one of his closest aides - Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam - have abandoned Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya for more than four decades.
The rebels now control a swath of territory from the Egyptian border in the east, across nearly half Libya's 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) Mediterranean coast to the key oil port of Breqa, about 440 miles (710 kilometers) east of Tripoli.
Gadhafi is believed to be firmly in control only of the capital, some towns around it, the far desert south and parts of Libya's sparsely populated center.
A witness said police had disappeared from the streets and a committee had been formed to run things in Misrata, where pro-Gadhafi militiamen - a mix of Libyans and foreign mercenaries - battled with government opponents who had been guarding an airport outside the city.
"Now it is calm, but there are worries that the government is preparing lots of security forces and that there will be a massacre today," he said. "We are spread out all over the city and the youths are in control."
The witness, who like other residents and officials spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said a protest was planned later Friday in Misrata, Libya's third-largest city about 120 miles (200 kilometers) from the capital. He said a small group of youths might be dispatched to Tripoli after the opposition movement called for protesters to march on the capital, but the others had to stay behind to protect their city amid rumors the regime planned to attack again.
A doctor at Misrata's central hospital raised the death toll from Thursday's fighting to 20 protesters and one pro-government militiaman. He also said at least 20 people were wounded.
The opposition was in control of the city and thousands massed in the central square after prayers in support of protesters in Tripoli, according to the doctor and a witness.
The worst bloodshed Thursday was in Zawiya, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of the capital Tripoli. An army unit loyal to Gadhafi opened fire with automatic weapons on a mosque where residents - some armed with hunting rifles for protection - have been holding a sit-in to support protesters in the capital, a witness said.
The troops blasted the mosque's minaret with an anti-aircraft gun. A doctor at a field clinic set up at the mosque said he saw the bodies of 10 dead, shot in the head and chest, as well as around 150 wounded. A Libyan news website, Qureyna, put the death toll at 23 and said many of the wounded could not reach hospitals because of shooting by "security forces and mercenaries."
Zawiya, a key city close to an oil port and refineries, is the nearest population center to Tripoli to fall into the hands of the anti-Gadhafi rebellion that began Feb. 15. Hundreds have died in the unrest.
The upheaval in the OPEC nation has taken most of Libya's oil production of 1.6 million barrels a day off the market. Oil prices hovered above $98 a barrel Friday in Asia, backing away from a spike to $103 the day before amid signs the crisis in Libya may have cut crude supplies less that previously estimated.
Associated Press writer Ben Hubbard contributed to this report.
U.N. Security Council to meet, Libya hands out cash
By Tom Pfeiffer and Mohammed Abbas
BENGHAZI, Libya | Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:37am EST
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) -
The Libyan coastal town of Zawiyah was under the control of anti-government protesters on Friday, a witness said, bringing a popular uprising against Muammar Gaddafi within 50 km of the capital Tripoli.
There were other signs that the government's grip was slipping, as prosecutor-general Abdul-Rahman al-Abbar became the latest senior official to resign and told al Arabiya television he was joining the opposition.
In the first practical attempt to enroll the support of citizens since the uprising began, Libyan state television announced the government was raising wages, increasing food subsidies and ordering special allowances for all families.
The U.N. Security Council was to meet on Friday to discuss a proposal for sanctions against Libyan leaders, fighting for survival against a popular uprising that has already driven them out of the east and the second city, Benghazi.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that "thousands" may have been killed or injured, and called for international intervention to protect civilians.
Two pages on the social networking website Facebook, one with more than 85,000 members, called for mass demonstrations in the capital after Friday prayers, but it was not clear if the call would be heeded.
Gaddafi's troops still control Tripoli after cracking down on anti-government protests several days ago, and residents say they are staying indoors unless forced to search for supplies.
Zawiyah, an oil refining town 50 km (30 miles) to the west of Tripoli that had been attacked by Libyan security forces on Thursday, was fully in rebel hands, said Saeed Mustafa, who drove through the town early on Friday on his way to Tunisia.
"There are army and police checkpoints around Zawiyah but there is no presence inside. I just saw a few unarmed civilians," he told Reuters after crossing the border.
Army and police in the eastern city of Adjabiya told Al Jazeera television they had withdrawn from their barracks and joined the opposition.
Opposition forces are already in control of major centers in the east, including the second city Benghazi. Reports say the third city, Misrata, is also under rebel control.
The nature of the new ruling orders in the east is still unclear. There was little sign of radical Islamists among the lawyers, doctors, tribal elders and army officers who made up committees trying to bring order.
The turmoil, inspired by successful revolutions in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, has caused particular global concern because Libya supplies 2 percent of the world's oil, the bulk of it from well and supply terminals in the east.
Abdessalam Najib, a petroleum engineer at the Libyan company Agico and a member of the Feb 17. coalition that says it is running Benghazi on an interim basis, said the rebels controlled nearly all oilfields east of the key Ras Lanuf terminal.
Jammal bin Nour, a judge who is also a member of the February 17 coalition, said oil deals with foreign firms that were "legal and to the benefit of the Libyan people" would be honored.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said crude production in Libya was likely to shut completely and could be lost for a long time.
Benchmark Brent oil futures rose more than a dollar to about $112 on Friday on fears of supply shortages, but a Saudi assurance that it would replace any shortfall in Libyan output kept prices well below Thursday's peak of nearly $120.
President Barack Obama consulted the French, British and Italian leaders late on Thursday to discuss coordinated steps.
Washington said it was keeping all options open, including sanctions and military action, but coordinated action against Gaddafi, who has ruled the oil-rich desert nation of 6 million people for 41 years, still seemed some way off.
The U.N. Security Council was to receive a French-British draft text on Friday, but was not expected to vote on a resolution until the middle of next week, council envoys said.
French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said the draft would ask for an arms embargo, financial sanctions and a request to the International Criminal Court to indict Libyan leaders for crimes against humanity.
But NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO members had not yet discussed trying to impose a no-fly zone to protect rebel-held areas from air attacks.
Foreign governments mostly focused on evacuating thousands of their citizens trapped by the unrest. Chinese official media said on Friday that Beijing had so far evacuated 12,000, or about one third, of its citizens from Libya.
Gaddafi, appealing for calm on Thursday in a telephone call to state television, blamed the revolt on al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He also said the protesters were fueled by milk and Nescafe spiked with hallucinogenic drugs.
Two days earlier he had vowed on television to crush the revolt and die a "martyr" in Libya.
State television said on Friday that each family would get 500 Libyan dinars ($400) to help cover higher food costs, and wages for some public sector workers would rise by 150 percent.
As growing numbers of Libyan officials, including cabinet ministers and ambassadors, reportedly deserted Gaddafi, the Swiss government said it was freezing assets of his family.
Libya's foreign ministry denied that the leader had any such funds and said it would sue Switzerland for saying so. London's Daily Telegraph newspaper said in an unsourced report that Britain may seize some $30 billion held in Britain.
Gaddafi's grip on power could depend in part on the performance around Tripoli of an elite military unit led by one of his younger sons, U.S. and European officials and secret diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks showed.
Libya's 32nd Brigade, led by Gaddafi's son Khamees, is the most elite of three last-ditch "regime protection units" totaling about 10,000 men. They are better equipped and more loyal to Gaddafi than the rest of the military, which has seen heavy desertion, officials said.
A witness told Reuters the unit had attacked anti-government militias controlling the town of Misrata, 200 km (120 miles) east of Tripoli, killing several people, although residents said the forces were beaten back by lightly armed local people.
After decades of shunning Gaddafi, accusing him of supporting anti-Western militant groups around the world, Western powers had in recent years embraced the flamboyant leader with a penchant for flowing robes and female bodyguards.
Gaddafi was particularly reviled after the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. A defecting minister said this week he had evidence Gaddafi had ordered the attack, in which 270 people were killed.
His ending of some weapons programs and cutting of overt ties with international militants, especially following the U.S. overthrow of Iraq's Saddam Hussein in 2003, led to cooperation with Western companies on developing oil fields.
(Additional reporting by Alexander Dziadosz, Ali Abdelatti in Cairo, Amena Bakr in Riyadh, Michael Georgy on the Tunisian border, Stephanie Nebehay and Robert Evans in Geneva; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Andrew Roche)
Gaddafi's cousin, closest aide resigns: Al-Arabiya
TRIPOLI, Feb. 25, 2011 (Xinhua) --
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's cousin and one of his closest aides, Ahmed Gaddafi al-Dam, said he resigned from his all posts in Libya, the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya TV said, citing an e-mail sent from al-Dam's office on Friday.
Belonged to Gaddafi's inner circle, Al-Dam is one of the high- ranking Libyan officials and has served as a liaison with Egypt. He has arrived in the Egyptian capital Cairo several days ago.
Meanwhile, Libya's attorney general, Abdel-Rahman Al-Abbar, also announced his resignation in a video posted on the video- sharing site, Youtube.
The Libyan government has reportedly seen defection of its security forces and resignation of diplomats since the protests broke out.
Editor: Fang Yang
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