It Is now!
Monday, 22 August 2011
Tripoli has fallen to rebels as Gadaffi holes up in his presidential compound.
Mohamed Gadaffi and Saif Al Islam, two of Colonel Gadaffi's sons have reportedly been captured, as the government minders of foreign news journalists and other members of the old regime flee. It seems that Tripoli's resistance is collapsing. After Gadaffi personally broadcast appeals for the population to resist the rebels, the state broadcaster was silenced, and the dictator is thought to have retreated to his compound - the only part of Libya not under under control of the rebel National Transitional Council.
The final collapse of the regime was triggered by a coordinated attack from two directions, and an uprising of the anti-Gadaffi population within Tripoli. The Loyalists quickly realised the game was up and failed to mount any major resistance, as rebels quickly advanced throughout the city. There was some isolated fighting in a few parts of the city but resistance was quickly put down. The NTC has stated that the Presidential Guard has surrendered earlier, a vital step which may have paved the way for a relatively bloodless takeover of the capital.
Local residents have built blockades to keep security forces out of their neighbourhoods, and to prepare for any period of lawlessness as the regime collapses.
The rebels meanwhile have reached Green Square, met with chanting crowds supporting the rebels. They have met with very little resistance as Gadaffi's last loyalists flee the city. The rebels have offered Gadaffi the chance to surrender to avoid a final fight, but it remains to be seen if he will take this last chance to avoid a fight to the death.
People have are poured out of buildings in the city, hugging the rebels, celebrating and shouting "Freedom!".
The NATO Secretary-General has issued a statement on the situation in Libya:
"The Qadhafi regime is clearly crumbling. The sooner Qadhafi realises that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better -- so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering.
"The Libyan people have suffered tremendously under Qaddafi’s rule for over four decades. Now they have a chance for a new beginning. Now is the time for all threats against civilians to stop, as the United Nations Security Council demanded. Now is the time to create a new Libya – a state based on freedom, not fear; democracy, not dictatorship; the will of the many, not the whims of a few.
"That transition must come peacefully. It must come now. And it must be led and defined by the Libyan people.
"NATO is ready to work with the Libyan people and with the Transitional National Council, which holds a great responsibility. They must make sure that the transition is smooth and inclusive, that the country stays united, and that the future is founded on reconciliation and respect for human rights.
"Qadhafi's remaining allies and forces also have a great responsibility. It is time to end their careers of violence. The world is watching them. This is their opportunity to side with the Libyan people and choose the right side of history.
"We will continue to monitor military units and key facilities, as we have since March, and when we see any threatening moves towards the Libyan people, we will act in accordance with our UN mandate.
"Our goal throughout this conflict has been to protect the people of Libya, and that is what we are doing.
"Because the future of Libya belongs to the Libyan people. And it is for the international community to assist them, with the United Nations and the Contact Group playing a leading role. NATO wants the Libyan people to be able to decide their future in freedom and in peace. Today, they can start building that future."
An ICC spokesman has issued a statement that Saif Gadaffi has been detained. Colonel Gadaffi faces charges of crimes against humanity after using anti aircraft guns, tanks, and machine guns against unarmed protesters, causing massive horrific, and indiscriminate injuries against civilians. He also declared an intention to wipe out the population of rebel held towns, including woman and children, and caused many towns to be completely deserted as his troops fought their way east before being stopped in their tracks by action by UK and US air forces, once a UN resolution had been reached to allow intervention to halt the massacre. Saif Gaddafi was seen organising loyalist troops to these ends.
President Obama of the US has yet to make a statement.
The rebels now claim to have control over all of Tripoli except the presidential bunker. It remains to be seen how this last vestige of the old regime will be resolved, but it is clearly contained, as celebration spreads throughout Libya.
The big question is what comes next. We know that the constitution of the Transition Council disallows any member to run for government, which bodes well for a truly democratic future.
UPDATE: In the morning 22/8, pockets of resistance using heavy arms broke out in various areas of Tripoli and a few other towns, most notably at the presidential compound itself. About 20% of Tripoli is yet to be secured by the rebels, but it is hard to see how this can be sustained for long. Gadaffi remains at large.
23/8, The world was greeted by the surprise news that Saif Al Islam, Gadaffi's favored son and heir, also indited by the International Criminal Court, was actually free, rather than in captivity as previously claimed. He arrived at the hotel where foreign journalists are being held by Gadaffi loyalists, in a white armored car and claimed that the apparent collapse of the loyalist lines last night was a tactic to trap rebel fighters. He took a few journalists on a tour of Gadaffi held areas, ending up at the presidential compound where he presented a queue of supporters waiting for small arms.
This heralded an upsurge resistance from pockets of loyalist fighters, and snipers firing from rooftops. However, this afternoon rebel fighters successfully stormed Gadaffi's fortified compound. Gadaffi appears to have fled through a tunnel network under his compound, if indeed he was has even been there in recent weeks.
Gadaffi does have support from those most closely related to him, and from his own tribe. Indeed a scud missile was reportedly fired from his home town of Sirte, towards Miserata. It is likely that those with nothing to lose will continue to resist and sabotage for some time yet, but there is no way back to power.