The Battle Rages in Libya
The battles have grown in earnest in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi, seeing his grip on Libya slipping away, has stepped up his offensive, launching an assault on the oil and port city of Berga early in the morning. The protesters fought valiently as gunfire ripped through the night air to keep the pro-government forces at bay. All this as Gaddafi, in another speech of unimaginable confusion, claimed that there was no opposition to his rule and that the uprising was at the hands of foreigners and a conspiracy of the west. And yet photos from of protesters holding signs refuted this maddening delusion.
Later in the day, as the protesters were celebrating an important defensive victory, fighter jets bombed the town, with several correspondents of Al Jazeera on hand to witness and spectacularly photograph the explosions. Four people were killed in the attacks and many more were injured, and the terror of the ever-looming air forces spiked in the hearts and minds of those in opposition-held areas, including Benghazi. When an where, they surely wonder, will the next air raid come?
Wednesday, a day which was stamped with events of importance around the world (including a lethal assault on American soldiers in Germany and the suspected murder of a prominent activist in Saudi Arabia at the hands of state security), found the world’s eyes squarely fixed on the unfolding events in Libya as the protesters continued to fight long after that lethal air raid, and news of the region continued to surface throughout the afternoon through various news sources and the internet.
Among the news was the capture of a pro-government commander in Misurata, including his communications equipment (which was of American origin), and battles that continued to be won against a sporadic but near constant offensive by pro-Gaddafi forces. At the Tunisian border, the crisis of days past also seemed to lessen, although conditions continued to be poor and the government threatened to prevent refugees from fleeing the country. And mercenaries, paid by Gaddafi to fight against the protesters, have continued to be captured in larger numbers, with Al Jazeera reporting a total of between 50-60 this week.
And yet reports were not all in favor of the opposition. Twitter posts have reported family members of those in Benghazi who continue to reside in Tripoli are being captured, and continued evidence of torture by the Gaddafi regime are being uncovered by protesters. A funeral was also held today for man who died in an assault that he should have survived but for lack of proper and adequate medical care, and Al Jazeera has reported that Gaddafi forces are “throwing patients from windows,” kidnapping children, detaining activists, and starving prisoners to death. And late this evening, an unconfirmed distress call has surfaced online purported to be from Berga warning of an impending “massacre” at the hands of truckloads of mercenaries, beginning for deliverance from God.
The United Nations, the Arab League and the African Union continued to deliberate the possibility of enforcing a no-fly zone in the air space above Libya to protect protesters. And the International Criminal Court launched an initial investigation into possible war crimes committed at the hands of Gaddafi, with a promise for further details to be released tomorrow. And world leaders are taking ever stronger stances against the intense violence as the protesters further organize, grow in number and strength, and prepare for an all-important offense that must come soon to liberate Tripoli. Gaddafi’s rule, it seems, may be nearing its end.
And yet, so much fighting is yet to come. Where peaceful uprising prevailed in Egypt and Tunisia, it seems inevitable that the people of Libya will tragically have to purchase their freedom with blood, thanks to the madness of Gaddafi, who seems content to die. The hearts and minds of the world, desperate but unable to meaningfully help, will be watching anxiously as the people rise, take their arms and tell this ruthless dictator that has ruled for four decades that they will no longer stand for his tyranny.
The rest of the Middle East, and alas the world, should take notice and take heed; nothing, not even oppression and violence, can stand between the determined and undaunted masses when the freedom they crave is at hand.