Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, February 2011
Libyan Revolution Moving to the Climax Stage, the Dictator Uses African Mercenaries and Air Strikes Against Tripoli Areas
February 21, 2011, 4:00 pm, ET
By Hassan El-Najjar
Updated on February 22, 2011, 8:00 am, ET
Aljazeera tv reported that it could verify that the Gaddafi regime used air force helicopters to attack protesters in the Fashloom area of the capital, Tripoli. However, there was no verification of air force attacks on other Tripoli areas as was reported from Tripoli residents by phones.
The Libyan revolution against the dictatorial and despotic regime of Gaddafi has reached a decisive stage by reaching the capital, Tripoli, and by the severe reaction from the bloody dictator.
The vast majority of Libyan cities in the east and west of the country are free now of the the control of the dictator after burning down the government buildings, particularly police and security forces buildings. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were injured in clashes with the regime forces and the African mercenaries used by them.
The major confrontation now is in the capital, Tripoli, where the dictator is headquartered in Bab Al-'Azeeziya military Camp. The loyal regime forces and the African mercenaries have been driving in Tripoli streets shooting protesters at sight.
Protesters in Tripoli have also been attacked by air strikes from helicopters, targeting areas inside and around Tripoli, particularly in Al-Jumhouriya Street, Fashloom, Tajoura, Janzoor, and Souq Al-Juma'a. There were also reports about more air raids on Tripoli areas as well as Al-Zawiya city, west of Tripolli.
A former Libyan pilot, called aljazeera tv from Germany, saying that these are old Mirage planes, which are too old to be used against enemy forces. The Gaddafi regime has kept them to be used against Libyans when they rise up. He also added that there were African pilots, training with him, and who could be used in attacking the Libyan people.
Two Libyan air force French-made Mirage jet planes landed today in Malta, a small state island off the Tripoli coast. The pilots announced that they refused to attack the Libyan people preferring to leave the country than killing their people for the benefit of the dictator.
Two more Libyan military planes landed in a Bani Ghazi airport, a city free of the Gaddafi control, after the Libyan pilots refused to attack their people.
There were reports coming to Arab TV stations about more African mercenaries arriving at the Mou'aitibiya in Tripoli, as reinforcement to the Dictatorial forces.
Many Libyan ambassadors and officials abroad, including a cabinet member visiting the US, announced their resignation and joined their people in the revolution to change the despotic Gaddafi regime.
It's disgraceful for the NATO countries which have not condemned the dictator for his brutal crackdown on the Libyan people. They are dead silent, probably because of the benefits they have been gaining by looting the Libyan natural resources, as a result of their relationship with the Gaddafi despotic regime. Time will tell about the cozy and disgraceful relationship between the regime and the ruling classes in NATO countries, like their relationships with the Mubarak and Bin Ali regimes in Egypt and Tunisia before.
The hypocrisy of NATO government is disgusting. While they can't wait to condemn anti-Israel regimes for the slightest human rights violations, they are dead silent towards the Gaddafi air strikes against Libyan civilian protesters in Tripoli.
Actually, there have been reports by Libyans calling Arab TV stations about Italian forces landing on Libya to help the dictatorial regime in an attempt to crush the revolution.
The Gaddafi brutal crackdown will only intensify the determination of the Libyan people to end the despotic and dictatorial regime of Gaddafi. This could be much sooner than the dictator and his backers think.
The Arab Revolution seems to be continuing with full force from Tunisia, to Egypt, to Libya, and to the rest of the Arab state.
The Tunisian poet Abul Qassem Al-Shabi once summarized it all in one verse that most Arabs know. He said:
"If the people one day will (wish) life, then Destiny (God) will respond (positively)."
Videos: Libyans Revolt for Regime Change, Hundreds Killed, February 20, 2011
Libya: Protesters, security clash in capital
Feb 21, 10:12 AM EST
By MAGGIE MICHAEL and HAMZA HENDAWI Associated Press
CAIRO (AP) --
Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi on Monday, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. Moammar Gadhafi's son vowed that his father and security forces would fight "until the last bullet."
Protesters demanding Gadhafi's ouster planed new marches in the capital's main Green Square and at the leader's residence for Monday evening. That was likely to bring a new round of violence after a similar march the night before prompted clashes that lasted till dawn, with witnesses reporting snipers opening fire on protesters and Gadhafi supporters racing through crowds in trucks and cars, firing automatic weapons and running people over.
During the day Monday, a fire was raging at the People's Hall, the main hall for government gatherings where the country's equivalent of a parliament holds its sessions several times a year, the pro-government news web site Qureyna said. It also reported the first major sign of discontent in Gadhafi's government, saying justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil resigned from his post to protest the "excessive use of force against unarmed protesters."
The capital was largely shut down, with schools, government offices and most stores closed, as armed members of pro-government organizations called "Revolutionary Committees" circulated in the streets hunting for protesters in Tripoli's old city, said one protester, named Fathi.
The protests and violence were the heaviest yet in the capital of 2 million people, a sign of how unrest was spreading after six days of demonstrations in eastern cities demanding the end of the elder Gadhafi's rule.
Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, went on state TV late Sunday night, warning civil war will break out if protests continue, a theme continued Monday on Libyan state TV, where a pro-regime commentator spoke of chaos and "rivers of blood" turning Libya into "another Somalia" if security is not restored.
Gadhafi's regime has unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. More than 200 have been killed in Libya, according to medical officials, human rights groups and exiled dissidents.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting neighboring Egypt, called the Libyan government's crackdown "appalling."
"We can see what is happening in Libya which is completely appalling and unacceptable as the regime is using the most vicious forms of repression against people who want to see that country - which is one of the most closed and one of the most autocratic - make progress. The response they have shown has been quite appalling," he told reporters in Cairo.
Fragmentation is a real danger in Libya, a country of deep tribal divisions and a historic rivalry between Tripoli and Benghazi. The Arab world's longest ruling leader in power for nearly 42 years, Moammar Gadhafi has held an unquestioned grip over the highly decentralized system of government he created, called the "Jamahiriya," or "rule by masses."
Libya's former ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo, Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who a day earlier resigned from his post to side with protesters, issued a statement demanding Gadhafi "be put on trial along with his aides, security and military commanders over the mass killings in Libya."
"Gadhafi's regime is now in the trash of history because he betrayed his nation and his people," al-Houni said.
The spiraling turmoil in Libya, an OPEC country that is a significant oil supplier to Europe, was raising international alarm. Oil prices jumped $1.67 to nearly $88 a barrel Monday amid investor concern.
Two leading oil companies, Statoil and BP, said they were pulling some employees out of Libya or preparing to do so. Portugal sent plane to pick up its citizens and other EU nationals and Turkey sent two ferries to pick up construction workers stranded in the unrest-hit country. EU foreign ministers were discussing on Monday the possible evacuation of European citizens. Mobs attacked South Korean, Turkish and Serbian construction workers at various sites around the country, officials from each country said.
The Internet has been largely shut down in Libya, residents can no longer make international calls from land lines and journalists cannot work freely, but eyewitness reports trickling out of the country suggested that protesters were fighting back more forcefully. Most witnesses and residents spoke on condition they be indentified by first name only or not at all, out of fear of retaliation.
In Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, protesters were in control of the streets Monday and took over the main security headquarters, known as the Katiba, after bloody clashes Sunday that killed at least 60 people, according to a doctor at the main hospital.
Cars honked their horns in celebration and protesters in the streets chanted "Long live Libya." Protesters took down the Libyan flag from above Benghazi's main courthouse and raised the flag of the country's old monarchy, which was toppled in 1969 by the military coup that brought Moammar Gadhafi to power, according to witnesses and video footage posted on the Internet.
Benghazi's airport was closed, according to an airport official in Cairo. A Turkish Airlines flight trying to land in Benghazi to evacuate Turkish citizens Monday was turned away, told by ground control to circle over the airport then to return to Istanbul.
There were fears of chaos as young men - including regime supporters - seized weapons from the Katiba and other captured security buildings. "The youths now have arms and that's worrying," said Iman, a doctor at the main hospital. "We are appealing to the wise men of every neighborhood to rein in the youths."
Youth volunteers were directing traffic and guarding homes and public facilities, said Najla, a lawyer and university lecturer in Benghazi. She and other residents said police had disappeared from the streets.
Benghazi has seen a cycle of bloody clashes over the past week, as security forces kill protesters, followed by funerals that turn into new protests, sparking new bloody shootings. After funerals Sunday, protesters fanned out, burning government buildings and police stations and besieging the Katiba.
Security forces battled back, at times using heavy-caliber machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, according to residents. One witness said she saw bodies torn apart and that makeshift clinics were set up in the streets to treat the wounded. Ahmed Hassan, a doctor at the main Al-Jalaa hospital, said funerals were expected Monday for 20 of those killed the day before, but that families of 40 others were still trying to identify their loved ones because their bodies were too damaged.
In some cases, army units reportedly sided with protesters against security forces and pro-Gadhafi militias. Mohamed Abdul-Rahman, a 42-year-old Benghazi merchant, said he saw an army battalion chasing militiamen from a security compound.
After seizing the Katiba, protesters found the bodies of 13 uniformed security officers inside who had been handcuffed and shot in the head, then set on fire, said Hassan, the doctor. He said protesters believed the 13 had been executed by fellow security forces for refusing to attack protesters.
Protest leaders and army units that sided with them were working to keep order in the streets Monday, directing traffic and guarding homes and official buildings, several residents said.
On Sunday night, Gadhafi's son Seif el-Islam - long seen as his likely successor - took to state TV, trying to take a tough line in a rambling and sometimes confused speech of nearly 40 minutes.
"We are not Tunisia and Egypt," he said. "Moammar Gadhafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him."
"The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet," he said.
He warned the protesters that they risked igniting a civil war in which Libya's oil wealth "will be burned." He also promised "historic" reforms in Libya if protests stop.
Seif has often been put forward as the regime's face of reform. Several of the elder Gadhafi's sons have powerful positions in the regime and in past years have competed for influence. Seif's younger brother Mutassim is the national security adviser, with a strong role in the military and security forces, and another brother Khamis heads the army's 32nd Brigade, which according to U.S. diplomats is the best trained and best equipped force in the military.
Even as Seif spoke, major clashes had broken out for the first time in Tripoli.
Sunday afternoon, protesters from various parts of the city began to stream toward central Green Square, chanting "God is great," said one 28-year-old man who was among the marchers.
In the square, they found groups of Gadhafi supporters, but the larger number of protesters appeared to be taking over the square and surrounding streets, he and two other witnesses said. That was when the backlash began, with snipers firing down from rooftops and militiamen attacking the crowds, shooting and chasing people down side streets. they said.
Gadhafi supporters in pickup trucks and cars raced through the suqare, shooting automatic weapons. "They were driving like mad men searching for someone to kill. ... It was total chaos, shooting and shouting," said the 28-year-old.
The witnesses reported seeing casualties, but the number could not be confirmed. One witness, named Fathi, said he saw at least two he believed were dead and many more wounded.
After midnight, protesters took over the main Tripoli offices of two state-run satellite stations, Al-Jamahiriya-1 and Al-Shebabiya, one witness said.
Libya protesters set fire to government buildings in Tripoli
Monday 21 February 2011 13.00 GMT
Protesters in Libya's capital are reported to have set fire to government buildings and attacked the headquarters of state television as the anti-Gaddafi demonstrations that began in the east of the country threaten to engulf the regime.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets overnight clashing with police and shouting anti-Gaddafi slogans as tribal leaders demanded an end to the violent government crackdown. There were also reports that some soldiers in the east had defected to the opposition, in a revolt that has killed more than 230 people.
Witnesses said that the brutal crackdown, that began in the country's second city of Benghazi, has spread to the capital overnight with reports of automatic gunfire and teargas in Tripoli for the first time since the unrest began.
The government building where the general people's congress, or parliament, meets was reported to be on fire and there were separate reports that protesters had attacked the headquarters of the state television network.
"I can see the People's Hall is on fire, there are firefighters there trying to put it out," a Reuters reporter said.
A hotel worker told the Guardian: "The mood is very tense here. We have heard that government buildings are on fire and locals are scared to leave their homes. Most foreigners are trying to leave."
Muammar Gaddafi has so far relied on brute force to crush what began as peaceful protests five days ago, and last night his son Saif al-Islam appeared on state TV to say it was a "tragedy" that Libyans had died but warned of "civil war" unless order was restored.
"There is a plot against Libya," said Saif, blaming "an Islamic group with a military agenda" for the bloodshed in Benghazi. Libya would see "rivers of blood", an exodus of foreign oil companies and occupation by "imperialists" if the violence continued, he said.
In reality, there has been little sign of Islamist involvement in Libya's unprecedented unrest. Nor was there in the uprisings in Tunisia or Egypt.
"Muammar Gaddafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him," Saif said. "The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."
Facts are hard to pin down in the face of a news blackout that has included jamming the signal of the al-Jazeera TV network and interference with telephone and internet connections. But there were multiple claims of the army firing into crowds and the targeting of mourners at the funerals of those killed on Saturday.
In fast-moving developments after midnight, demonstrators were reported to be in Tripoli's Green Square and preparing to march on Gaddafi's compound as rumours spread that the leader had fled to Venezuela. Other reports described protesters in the streets of Tripoli throwing stones at billboards of Gaddafi while police used teargas to try to disperse them.
"People are in the street chanting 'Allahu Akbar' [God is great] and throwing stones at photos of Gaddafi," an expatriate worker told Reuters by phone from Tripoli. "The police are firing teargas everywhere, it's even getting into the houses."
A Tripoli resident, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters the streets of the capital appeared to be calm early on Monday morning but that there was no sign of police, which is unusual for the city.
The drama in Libya overshadowed developments elsewhere in the region. Tensions eased in Bahrain after troops withdrew from a square in Manama occupied by Shia protesters. Thousands of security personnel were also deployed in the Iranian capital, Tehran, to forestall an opposition rally. Elsewhere in the region unrest hit Yemen, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait and Algeria.
But the eyes of the world are on Libya. In Benghazi in the east of the country shocked witnesses spoke of "massacres" and described corpses shot in the head, chest or neck piling up in hospitals running short of blood and medicines.
According to a Reuters report, Libyan soldiers said they had defected and were joining the protests. An intelligence source reported that 150 soldiers and officers who disobeyed orders and refused to shoot at protesters would be executed.
Estimates of the total number of fatalities over six days of unprecedented unrest ranged from 233 – the latest figure given by Human Rights Watch – to 285. But some opposition sources gave figures as high as 500.
Two of Gaddafi's other sons, Khamis and Saadi, and intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi were reportedly commanding efforts to crush the protests in Benghazi, where buildings were ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a compound to pick off demonstrators with sniper and artillery fire.
But one student blogger told the Guardian that people were becoming so desparate they were losing their fear of the regime. "Now people are dying we've got nothing else to live for. It's like a pressure cooker. People are boiling up inside. I'm not even afraid any more. Once I wouldn't have spoken at all by phone. Now I don't care."
In signs of mounting domestic anger at Gaddafi, Libya's representative to the Arab League, Abdel Monein al-Honi, announced that he was resigning in protest at the suppression of the unrest. Libya's ambassador to China, Hussein Sadiq al-Musrati, resigned on air while on al-Jazeera Arabic, calling on the army to intervene, and urged all diplomatic staff to resign.
In another striking development, the leader of a powerful tribe in eastern Libya warned that oil exports to the west – vital for the country's economy – would be halted within 24 hours unless the authorities stopped the "oppression of protesters".
Libyan unrest escalates, dozens killed
TRIPOLI, Feb. 21, 2011 (Xinhua) --
More than 200 anti-government protesters were killed during the last few days of political unrest in the Libyan city of Benghazi, Al-Jazeera TV reported Monday.
Witnesses from Benghazi said that dozens of people were killed on Saturday when troops opened fire on anti-government protesters in the city.
Al-Jazeera TV quoted medical sources as saying 61 people had been killed in the latest protests in Tripoli on Monday.
Fighting has also broken out in the eastern cities of Al-Bayada, Ajdabiya, Darnah, and Tobruk.
Earlier, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam in a televised speech warned that Libya would face a civil war if the clashes continued.
Seif al-Islam said 84 protestors were killed in Benghazi, denying early reports of 250 deaths of protestors.
He vowed that the government will fight until "the last man, the last woman, and the last bullet," to stay in power. He said that Libya is "not Egypt or Tunisia," neighboring countries whose leaders were swept from power in recent weeks.
Promising "incredible reforms for a new Libya", he urged protestors to go home.
Inspired by popular protests that had swept Tunisia and Egypt and forced their leaders to step down, thousands of Libyans have started a string of protests against their leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Editor: Fang Yang
Libya's central gov't building on fire
TRIPOLI, Feb. 21, 2011 (Xinhua) --
A central government building in the Libyan capital of Tripoli was set on fire Monday, according to Al-Arabiya TV.
Protesters in Tripoli have also ransacked the headquarters of state television overnight and set ablaze the offices of the People's Committees which are the mainstay of the regime, said the report.
Inspired by streets-born uprisings which swept Tunisia and Egypt and forced their leaders to step down, thousands of Libyans have started a string of protests against leader Muammar Gaddafi, in power for 42 years. But the protests have met with a heavy- handed security crackdown
A total of 100 protesters have been killed in the Libyan city of Benghazi by the security forces on anti-government protests, the pan-Arab Al Arabiya TV reported on Sunday, while Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam said in a televised address early Monday that 84 protestors were killed in Benghazi,
There are conflicting reports about the death toll as media reports depend on phone conversations with witnesses and medical sources and it has been hard to verify these accounts after Libyan authorities barred independent and foreign journalist from entering the city since the start of the unrest.
Editor: Tang Danlu
Gaddafi's son warns of civil war in Libya
CAIRO, Feb. 21, 2011 (Xinhua) --
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam on Monday warned of civil war in the country if violence continued, as the wave of anti-government unrest continued to grip some countries in the Middle East and North Africa on Sunday following protests in Egypt and Tunisia that toppled their long-time presidents.
In Libya, anti-government protests spread to the capital of Tripoli on Sunday. Some protestors in Benghazi, the second largest city, have reportedly seized tanks and heavy weapons, further worsening the country's turmoil.
Dubai-based Al-Alabiya said a section of troops in the city joined the protestors.
Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam early Monday went on state television to proclaim that his father remained in charge with the army's backing and would "fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."
Seif al-Islam said Libya's parliament would convene on Monday to discuss a "clear" reform agenda, while the government would also raise wages.
"We will have to lay down a constitution for the country," he said, pledging to make reforms in future.
Al-Alabiya and Al-Jazeera TV channels reported earlier that Gaddafi has left for Brazil or Venezuela, and his son Seif al-Islam took over as the head of the country. But this was not confirmed by any Libyan official sources.
A total of 100 people have been killed during anti-government protests in the Libyan city of Benghazi by the security forces, the pan-Arab Al Arabiya TV reported on Sunday.
The turbulence also spread to Morocco, where thousands rallied for change across the country.
Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday gathered in a number of Moroccan cities, including the capital Rabat, to protest the government's corruption and called for political reforms.
In Rabat, some 2,000 people participated in the march, chanting "People want change," while in the country's biggest city of Casablanca, about 1,000 people took to the streets to claim their political demands, the Arab Maghred News Agency quoted organizers as saying on Sunday.
Protests also broke out in cities like Marrakech, Jeddah, Tangier, Inezgane and Laayoune, the agency reported,
In Yemen's capital of Sanaa, nearly 2,000 protesters calling for the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, mostly students, held a sit-in Sunday evening and erected tents at a place they name it "Changing square" in front of the main gate of Sanaa University.
In southern province of Ibb, around 1,500 anti-government protesters gathered on Sunday for the first time in this province, asking Saleh to leave, said an unidentified local security official.
In Bahrain, thousands of demonstrators have been camping on the Pearl Square in central Manama again after troops and armored vehicles pulled out on Saturday, hoping to build on the momentum generated by protests in Tunisia and Egypt.
Protesters, most of them Shiites, are pressing for political reforms, including the release of political prisoners and the sack of the incumbent prime minister.
They also call for more economic reforms and new jobs.
Editor: Xiong Tong
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