A frightening chaos grips Tripoli as Moammar Gadhafi’s regime plays out its final convulsive hours with machine guns and snipers the streets have run red with blood. Civilians do what they can while in fear for their lives, dreading a run-in with Gadhafi’s forces or reprisals from undisciplined rebel fighters, not knowing where safety will come from. Others have been risking their lives to bring food and water to their terrified families.
Col. Ahmed Bani held a press conference in Benghazi informing the press that Tarhouna based forces opened fire on a convoy of armored cars when it ignored their orders to stop. “From prisoners taken from this convoy it appears they were the guards of Khamis,” said Colonel Bani. Qaddafi’s forces still control the area around Sabha and Tarhouna lies on the road that connects the south to Tripoli. Opposition forces have now taken control of Bin Jawad which was the last major point before they can head to Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown.
With fighters in a constant retreat westward toward Sirte, Qaddafi’s grip seems to be slipping. Currently there are statements being made that opposition leaders are attempting to negotiate with residents and tribal leaders so that they can avoid an armed and bloody conflict in Sirte.
Meanwhile, the AP reports tonight, “Two men claiming to be Moammar Gadhafi’s sons made conflicting appeals from hiding Wednesday night, with one of them calling for talks with rebel leaders and the other urging the regime’s loyalists to fight to the death.”
All this comes as we are beginning to see reports out of Libya of horribly violent atrocities. Reporters have mentioned seeing the bodies of 30 men who are said to have fought for Gadhafi. At least two had their hands bound, the Reuters news agency reported. One was strapped to a hospital gurney with a drip still in his arm. Meanwhile medical workers report that Gadhafi’s forces carried out a “mass execution” of 16 or more prisoners. A survivor of the massacre said the troops methodically shot the group as they prepared to retreat.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and the National Transitional Council that for the moment holds a volatile upper hand is the current hope for a restoration of peace and calm. Many still fear a reprisal and return of the former regime. Libyans hear the drum of history as they recall post-Saddam Iraq, where there was a bloody attempt to purge the country and prevent a continued anarchy. Iraqis are still paying the price and Libyans are no doubt gripped by that realization. The Libyan rebel council has promised 6 million citizens a free, democratic and inclusive future. While little can be expected of Gadhafi’s hired guns, the rebels have pledged themselves to a higher standard.
Now is their chance to deliver.
While the Libyans are unlikely to request peacekeeping forces they may need help establishing a credible police force. They also want the United States and other countries to free up tens of billions in frozen assets to get a new government up and running and to rebuild infrastructure and services. And they need investors to develop the country’s key oil reserves. All this will hinge on the new regime proving better than the old.
Libya has already suffered more than Egypt and Tunisia, to shake off tyranny. There is no need to mark its fall with a season of reprisal.
Growing up in Northern Ontario as a Jehovah’s Witness, Michael Talon experienced firsthand the struggle for equality. Now living in the U.S. with his partner, they work with advocates for federal equality, including immigration. Working side by side, Michael and his partner Brad, head of Luna Media Group, help to deliver messages for equality to the nation.
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