Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Tripoli Road



Libya: Fierce fighting south-west of Tripoli
They were on their way to Tripoli

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13921665

Rebel forces in Libya have clashed with troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi about 80km (50 miles) south-west of the capital, Tripoli.

A rebel spokesman in the Nafusa mountains said there had been heavy fighting on the outskirts of the strategic town of Bir al-Ghanam.

The rebels told the BBC they were making a push for Tripoli.

Meanwhile the International Criminal Court is to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for Col Gaddafi.

A decision by a three-judge panel is expected at 1100 GMT. The ICC's chief prosecutor has also requested arrest warrants for Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah Senussi.

The warrants are for alleged crimes against humanity committed against opponents of the regime.

The international military operation in Libya entered its 100th day on Monday, with the rebels still struggling to take advantage of coalition air strikes on Col Gaddafi's infrastructure.

The Libyan news agency reported fresh strikes on Tripoli overnight.
'Consolidating gains'

The rebels control the east of the country as well as pockets of western Libya, including the Nafusa mountains.

Guma el-Gamaty, a spokesman for the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC), told AP news agency that Bir al-Ghanam - the focus of the latest fighting - was important as it was barely 30km (18 miles) south of Zawiya, a western gateway to Tripoli.

Opposition fighters seized Zawiya in March before government troops drove the rebels out of the oil-refinery city. Fighting again broke out there this month.

The BBC's Mark Doyle, who is in the village of Bir Ayad near Bir al-Ghanam, says Sunday's fighting began when government forces tried to cut off the rebels by attacking from behind.

Clashes continued in the distance, where the boom of artillery, the rattle of automatic gunfire and the occasional rumble of Nato jets could be heard, he says.

A medic said two rebels had died in the battle. The rebels said government forces suffered far greater casualties, although that cannot be confirmed.

The rebels came down into the plains from the Nafusa mountains in early June, adds our correspondent. But they have met strong resistance from Col Gaddafi's forces.

He says that although it is a shifting front line, the rebels appear to be gradually consolidating their position in the mountains.

The minister of defence for Libya's rebels, Jalal al-Dgheli, told the BBC that because their weapons were so limited, most of them were focused on the push from the western mountains towards Tripoli.

But in the near future there could be an advance from the east near Brega towards Tripoli, he told the BBC's Bridget Kendall in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

"What we're learning from defectors is that Gaddafi's supporters are getting fewer, people who are close to him are abandoning him, and his inner circle is getting smaller by the day."

He added that he hoped Col Gaddafi could be gone by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in August, but our correspondent said this could be wishful thinking.
'Election proposal'

The Libyan government on Sunday meanwhile reportedly renewed its offer for a vote on whether Col Gaddafi should stay in power.

Gaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim was quoted as telling reporters in Tripoli that the government was proposing a period of national dialogue and an election overseen by the UN and African Union.

fires at a graduation ceremony after a weapons training course in Tripoli
"If the Libyan people decide Gaddafi should leave he will leave," Mr Ibrahim was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. "If the people decide he should stay he will stay."

But he said Col Gaddafi - who has run the oil-producing country since a military coup in 1969 - would not go into exile.

The idea of holding an election was first raised earlier this month by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Since then Italy has called for a political settlement to the conflict, following a Nato strike in Tripoli on 19 June that killed several civilians.

In a separate development, African leaders meeting in Pretoria said Col Gaddafi has agreed to stay out of talks aimed at ending the conflict.

In a communique after talks on Sunday, the African Union panel on Libya said it welcomed "Col Gaddafi's acceptance of not being part of the negotiations process".

The statement did not elaborate.

Libyan base falls to rebel ambush

http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/article/555161--libyan-base-falls-to-rebel-ambush

EL GA’A, LIBYA — In darkness Monday night and Tuesday morning, rebel soldiers from towns throughout the Nafusah Mountain region gathered to put the finishing touches on a bold mission: they planned to capture a sprawling military base controlled by government soldiers that was still stocked, they believed, with the kinds of weapons and ammunition that would help level their fight against the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

A group of the fighters spent the night at a safe house, and as the sun rose Tuesday here in the mountains of western Libya, hundreds of other fighters joined them in positions around the base. By midday, the rebels had routed 100 or so Gadhafi soldiers who had been guarding the base and who had left their potatoes, trash and crumpled green uniforms behind.

The soldiers also left a dubious bounty for the rebels, who carried off crates of outdated and aging ammunition and weapons’ parts, including components for heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles that security experts worry about falling into the hands of terrorists.

There was no sight of the rifles they desperately needed. But that could not diminish the glow of a hard-fought victory, and the fighters fired in celebration as they drove away from the base in trucks packed with olive-coloured crates.

As the rebel offensive has faltered in other parts of Libya, it seems to have picked up momentum in the west. The rebels have ambitious plans of consolidating control of the western mountain region and using it as a staging ground for an assault on the oil city of Zawiya and, finally, the heavily fortified capital of Tripoli.

Gadhafi is holed up there, and Tuesday the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, predicted that the colonel’s days as head of state are numbered and urged his associates to arrest him on the warrant issued by the court Monday.

The rebels are not banking on that turn of events, however. On Sunday, they made their farthest advance yet toward Tripoli, in a fight with Gadhafi soldiers in Bir al-Ghanem. The victory at the base also seemed to signal progress, in that the Gadhafi loyalists had kept control of the depot despite repeated bombings by NATO warplanes.

As hundreds of people rummaged through concrete ammunition stores Tuesday, one rebel leader, buoyed by the victory, framed the attack as one more step in preparation for an inevitable advance.

“We will go to Tripoli,” said the leader, Said al-Fasatwi, a revolutionary commander from the town of Jadu. “But we won’t leave anything behind.”

Monday night, as fighters gathered at the headquarters of the military council in the town of Rajban, Col. Mohamed Ethish and another officer reviewed a map of the battlefield surrounding the military base. Other men prepared their weapons, and a few fighters set out to scout the area.

Their offensive started at about 6 a.m., when rebels in trucks with anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers took up positions around the base, a meandering collection of more than 70 concrete bunkers and buildings that stretched for kilometres. An hour later, the Gadhafi soldiers were fighting back fiercely but aiming poorly. For hours, Grad rocket barrages and mortar rounds landed harmlessly in the desert scrub, sometimes far behind the rebel lines.

The rebels have boasted recently of a much-improved communications system that, coupled with the degradation of the Gadhafi forces’ communications, is giving them a major advantage on the battlefield. Although there is no cellphone service here, the rebels were equipped with walkie-talkies, which did seem to give them some tactical advantage.
By 10 a.m., spectators watching with binoculars from nearby hills decided the battle was going well enough that they could move closer. Two hours later, the hills were filled with brown dust, as rebel vehicles drove in convoys toward the base, reacting to the news: the Gadhafi soldiers had fled.

The rebels said only one of their fighters was dead, by rounds from an anti-aircraft gun. One man returning from the front lines thought some of the loyalist soldiers had been killed, though he did not know how many.

“I saw blood,” he said.

If the attack on the base was a showcase of rebel organization, its aftermath was a picture of the movement’s shortcomings. Apart from men directing traffic, there seemed to be no effort to secure the ammunition or weapons.

On a road outside the base, a truck hauled away cases of ammunition bearing stickers that showed two hands shaking above the words United States of America. A traffic jam clogged the narrow entrance. Young men hitched rides on the back of pickup trucks, hoping to find a Kalashnikov or any other gun. There were none to be had, so the men hauled away anything they could find.

“I found a new gun,” said Murad Ruheibi, 33, holding up an emptied plastic water bottle with a snake he found in one of the warehouses. A teenager slung an anti-aircraft component on his shoulder as others carted away dozens of the weapons, known as Manpads.

All but a handful of the concrete storage bunkers had been partly or destroyed by several waves of NATO airstrikes, rebels said. Carpets of metal stretched for hundreds of feet in front of the damaged buildings, consisting of destroyed ammunition and unexploded tank shells.

In undamaged bunkers, people ripped apart ammunition cases, striking them with crowbars or the butts of their guns. At least one person died while handling the ammunition, according to people at the hospital in the nearby town of Zintan. By day’s end, there were signs that the rebel momentum might be fleeting: Hundreds of people fled the base, after a rumour that the Gadhafi soldiers were returning. But they did not.

A fighter from Jadu, who asked to be identified by his first name, Sufian, suggested that any talk about an attack on Tripoli was premature.

“We are going to have to organize ourselves out here first,” he said.

Mercury news services

Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard & Canada's Role



Lt Gen Charles Bouchard: 'We will see this mission through'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13919380

He is the other man at the centre of the war against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The military commander who ultimately selects and authorises strikes by Nato warplanes.
Outside the alliance few may know his name. But Lt Gen Charlie Bouchard has been charged with directing this complex war, and political leaders in the West are pinning their hopes on him.

We meet the plain-speaking Canadian lieutenant general at Nato's Joint Command Headquarters on the outskirts of Naples.

The military operation is being run from an unremarkable office block. Men and women, in a surprisingly large variety of camouflaged uniforms and flying suits with the badges of different nations, walk with purpose between rooms closed off for security.
There is a sudden rush of activity as Gen Bouchard enters the building for his first morning meeting.

He asks one of his staff if it's going to be another busy day. He reassures them: "We'll get through it." This is a man who clearly does not stand on ceremony - he quickly places his juniors at ease.

Nor does he much like giving interviews. He has covered his black T-shirt with a camouflaged tunic just for the camera. A helicopter pilot by profession, he has the bearing of a man who would not avoid fighting in the trenches.

His pronunciation of a few words suggest that English might not be his first language - he is French Canadian. But he has spent a lot of his career working with the Americans and they clearly did not mind handing over the mission to him.

'Rigorous targeting'

My mission is to stop violence against people and I will go all the way down the chain to the man that pulls the trigger”

Gen Bouchard

Gen Bouchard believes the alliance is winning the war against Col Gaddafi.

"We have significantly destroyed his military capacity to the point that he now has no capability to run any offensive," he says.

That might sound like good news to Nato members, but he adds that the Libyan army "is shielding themselves and using civilians as human shields".

The general describes a recent video he watched, where a multiple rocket launcher was driven inside a house. On top of that same house a women with a young child was hanging out the washing. He says such examples make life difficult for Nato, but "not impossible".
With the mantra of this mission to avoid civilian casualties, he says the targeting process is "very rigorous". They first collect intelligence from a variety of sources. Spy planes fly over the target for imagery. An entire team - including lawyers - then assesses the mission and matches the appropriate weapon with what needs to be hit.

At the end of the process a recommendation is made and Gen Bouchard then makes the final decision. He says the questions he asks himself last are: Is this necessary? What will this do and what will be the impact on the civilian population?

The alliance believes that it has largely been successful in avoiding civilian casualties. Nato admits that last week a bomb malfunctioned and strayed. But the general is keen to point out that more than 5,000 bombs dropped by Nato warplanes have hit their target.

'He is the murderer'

I ask about a recent strike on a compound in Sorman to the west of Tripoli in which - the Libyans claim - three children were killed.

He insists that this was clearly a command-and-control centre being used by a senior Gaddafi aide. That aide, he says, would not hesitate to order the deaths of hundreds of civilians. If children were killed - and he seems willing to accept the possibility - he says it's "very regrettable". But the attack, he says, should be seen in the context that this was all about saving lives. The bomb, he said, carefully avoided a mosque and hospital nearby.

It was this attack that prompted Col Gaddafi to denounce Nato on the airwaves as murderers and barbarians.

Gen Bouchard replies: "I believe that he is the murderer. He is the man that's lost the moral authority to command his people."

Does that make him a legitimate target? The general repeats that his orders are not regime change or to kill a head of state.

"My mission is to stop violence against people and I will go all the way down the chain to the man that pulls the trigger," he says. He thinks Col Gaddafi is avoiding military instillation and "hiding" in mosques, hospitals and schools.

As to the strains within Nato, Gen Bouchard seems unperturbed. Does he have the military hardware to carry out the job? Every military commander wants more, he says, before adding that he has sufficient capability to carry out the mission. He will let Nato member states worry about resources.

How long will this take? He says that it's difficult to say, though he does not expect this mission to last years. Calls for a temporary ceasefire, he says, would just give Col Gaddafi's forces the chance to "rearm and reload".

Gen Bouchard ends the interview with an emphatic claim: "We will see this mission through."

He paints a picture of success - a Libya where Nato creates the environment for politics and diplomacy to take root, and with the Libyan people able to decide their own future.
He is clearly relieved when the microphone is switched off. He can get back to the job he wants to do.

http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110627/baird-canada-trip-libya-rebels-benghazi-110627/20110627/?hub=EdmontonHome

Updated: Mon Jun. 27 2011 15:18:40

CTV.ca News Staff

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he was "very impressed" with rebel leaders he met with in Libya Monday as part of a secret visit to the North African country.

Baird spent half a day with Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the National Transitional Council (NTC), in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

He also met with humanitarian aid groups and visited Canadian troops based in Sicily who have participated in the NATO-led bombing campaign against embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Canada recently joined other European and Arab countries in officially recognizing the NTC as Libya's legitimate government.

"I was frankly surprised -- pleasantly" by the rebel council members, Baird said. "I was very impressed with them."

But he added: "I don't think we're going to move from Gadhafi to Thomas Jefferson." The post-Gadhafi regime, "Won't be perfect," he said.

Baird told The Canadian Press his goal for the trip was to "get the facts" for himself, adding: "We are doing our due diligence because that is what Canadians expect and the Libyan people require."

The NTC has been at a standoff for weeks with Gadhafi, Libya's longtime dictator who has vowed to fight to the death against the rebels.

Baird said he wanted to meet with Jibril and his rebel leaders to see whether they are capable of leading the country if and when Gadhafi is deposed.

"This is one of the many steps that need to happen as Canada and the NTC go forward together," Baird said.

While in Benghazi Baird met with non-governmental organizations to discuss Canada's aid efforts to Libya and how those efforts could be maximized.

He also dropped off a planeload of trauma kits to help treat the many casualties from the fighting.

Canada has committed over $10 million in aid to Libya, with funds going to various groups including the Red Cross and the United Nations Populations Fund.

Baird 'moved' by rebels' courage

During his visit, Baird travelled via motorcade through the rebel-held city, past walls covered in anti-Gadhafi graffiti.

According to Baird, rebel leaders told him of their battles against Gadhafi's forces and their retreat to Benghazi.

"I was incredibly, incredibly moved by the courage and determination," Baird said.
"It is a remarkable accomplishment."

Baird presented Jabril with a letter from Prime Minister Stephen Harper that extended an invitation to Canada to meet with federal officials and MPs. Baird also met with his counterpart on the NTC, Ali Isawi, who was forced to deny reports that the council had been negotiating a peace agreement with members of Gadhafi's regime.

"We have no direct contact with the Gadhafi regime," Isawi told reporters. "But anything that can bring to an end the bloodshed, we will certainly look at it."

Baird told reporters he will look into whether Canada can transfer frozen Libyan assets to the NTC. However, he acknowledged that such a move presents "a complex legal issue," and said he was not optimistic that he could work out such a deal.

Ottawa has also called for women to play a role in any future democratic government in Libya.

Baird tells troops to ‘be patient'

After hastily retreating to the airport around 4 p.m. local time after celebratory gunfire was heard nearby, Baird travelled to Sicily to meet with Canadian Forces personnel. Canada has seven fighter jets, in addition to a warship and surveillance and refuelling planes in the region.

In total, there are about 650 Canadian Forces personnel taking part in the NATO-led initiative. The bombing campaign began just over 100 days ago.

While the rebels have become entrenched in the east of Libya, Gadhafi and fighters loyal to him have maintained control over much of the west, including Tripoli.

Baird addressed about 60 troops, telling them in a brief speech that he is proud of their efforts.

"We've got to be patient," Baird said. "We are making progress."

Algeria



Algeria responds to social protests

By Mouna Sadek for Magharebia in Algiers – 24/06/11
http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/06/24/feature-02

Algeria has witnessed unprecedented unrest in the past few months. Resident doctors, postal workers, students and the unemployed all have axes to grind. To placate the protestors, the authorities have adopted a raft of new measures.

Since the beginning of this year, law enforcement officers have carried out no fewer than 2,777 riot control operations. A record was set in March, when more than 70 rallies and sit-ins were staged.

In response, the government has issued calls for dialogue, bowed to demands for pay hikes and promised greater political freedom.

The measures, however, have come at a price. Experts fear that they will lead to a deficit of 33.9% of GDP in the amended 2011 budget, which was approved by parliament on Wednesday (June 15th).

"Algeria has managed to maintain law and order without resorting to violence" by adopting measures to curb the social unrest, according to Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia.

Algerian experts believe that the recent uprisings in Arab countries have served as a wake-up call for political leaders.

"Officials are looking for solutions and ways of enabling the country to switch to a new mode of governance," economic consultant Arslane Chikhaoui said. Increased attempts at dialogue and consultation lead to "a better understanding by officials of the reality on the ground".

"Until now, everyone has been confined to their own environment and there was no connection between the various parties," Chikhaoui said.

The protest movement in Algeria has brought about a new political culture which is seen "within both civil society and the government", said sociologist Amel Boubekeur.

"This is a political culture which is not being expressed through ideology since we did not see Islamists, leftists or Berberists during the riots," she told APS. "Only after the riots, these political currents tried to organise this movement."

Young Algerians are not in a position to demand alternative policies or ideologies; rather, they are displaying "civil resistance", Boubekeur added.

"Where the winds of social revolt, which blew in from Tunisia, have mobilised those who are in unstable situations, those who are badly paid and the poor, the authorities have made a tactical retreat," Socialist Workers' Party (PST) chief Chawki Salhi told El Watan. "Those in power have realised how vulnerable they are in the absence of mediation. These frameworks for dialogue are intended to be an alternative to riots."

The population has been supportive of the protests, despite the inconvenience they have caused.

The strikes are "understandable, people can't make ends meet any more," taxi driver Abdenour Zeriguine told Magharebia. "The Arab nations are calling for the overthrow of their regimes. The Algerians, meanwhile, want their system to collapse!"

Noria, a 40-year-old nurse, felt that the measures taken by the government were insufficient to quell the anger on the streets. "You can't make something new out of something old," she said. "There has been a big debate about civil society, but always with the same people."

Hana Gaddafi - Dead or Alive?

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

http://www.worldcrunch.com/exclusive-clues-gaddafi-s-daughter-killed-86-us-strike-still-alive/3574

DIE WELT

After American planes bombed Tripoli on April 14, 1986, the Libyan Ministry of Information declared that an adopted daughter of Muammar Gaddafi, Hana, less than a year old, had died in the attack. The news was announced on Libyan radio, TV and print media.

Up until then, no one had heard of the existence of the child -- Aisha, who was born in 1977, was thought to be Gaddafis’ only daughter.

The story of the adopted child killed by the Americans has persisted, although some doubted from the outset that Hana really existed and, if she did, that she died. An American journalist at the time was shown the body of a baby girl -- but was she a Gaddafi daughter or a victim being passed off as such for propaganda reasons?

Whatever the truth, the Libyan state propaganda machine kept milking the story, and on the 20th anniversary of the attack, organized the “Hana Festival of Freedom and Peace.”

Then in February 2011, Welt am Sonntag, the Sunday Edition of Die Welt, obtained a copy of a document related to the case that came to light in Switzerland after fighting broke out in Libya, and the Swiss government ordered Gaddafi assets in Switzerland frozen. The document lists 23 members of the Gaddafi clan. Seventh on the list: Hana Gaddafi. An official government spokesperson in Bern told “Welt am Sonntag”: “There are reasons why the name is on the list, which we are not revealing publicly.” Hana Gaddafi’s date of birth is listed as Nov. 11, 1985. At the time of the U.S. bombing, she would have been six months old.

There were some previous clues in the case. On June 6, 1999, the Chinese Xinhua news agency reported that “Gaddafi’s wife, Safia Farkash al-Barassi, and Gaddafi daughters Aisha and Hana” had had lunch with then-South African President Nelson Mandela. Indeed, photographs show a young girl with Mrs. Gaddafi and Aisha.

In recent information received by "Welt am Sonntag," sources say Hana Gaddafi is alive, has spent considerable time in London as a teenger, and speaks good English. Contacted by “Welt am Sonntag,” the British Foreign Office said it would not release information about Gaddafi’s family, and the MI5 intelligence agency would neither confirm nor deny Hana Gaddafi’s existence.

In Libya, it’s an open secret that a Hana Gaddafi studied medicine in Tripoli. The young woman was apparently protected by bodyguards. “When I asked who she was, I was told she was Hana Gaddafi, Gaddafi’s adopted daughter who was supposedly killed in 1986,” says an anonymous Internet commentator who claimed to have studied medicine at the university at the same time.

Libyan sources say Hana Gaddafi became a doctor, that she still lives in Libya, and holds an important position in the Libyan Ministry of Health. Diplomatic circles in Tripoli have known about Hana Gaddafi‘s existence for several years.

Theories continue to swirl around the story. However, recent developments in Libya indicate that Colonel Gaddafi doesn’t shy away from using the supposed death of family members at the hands of Western aggressors to win sympathy from his people.

In May, after a NATO bombing raid, the Ministry of Information announced the death of a son, Saif al-Arab, 29, and three of the dictator’s grandchildren. A funeral took place several days after the attack, and the regime announced that an independent French doctor had confirmed the identity of the dead man.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed doubt about the death of Gaddafi’s son on Italian TV. Information gathered by the secret service pointed to his not having been in Libya at the time of the attack. "Even the case of the three grandchildren appears to be unfounded," Berlusconi said.

Read the full original article in German by Patrick Müller

Photo - Ammar Abd Rabbo

Monday, June 27, 2011

On the Way to Tripoli



Libya: Fierce fighting south-west of Tripoli

They were on their way to Tripoli

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13921665

Rebel forces in Libya have clashed with troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi about 80km (50 miles) south-west of the capital, Tripoli.

A rebel spokesman in the Nafusa mountains said there had been heavy fighting on the outskirts of the strategic town of Bir al-Ghanam.

The rebels told the BBC they were making a push for Tripoli.

Meanwhile the International Criminal Court is to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for Col Gaddafi.

A decision by a three-judge panel is expected at 1100 GMT. The ICC's chief prosecutor has also requested arrest warrants for Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah Senussi.

The warrants are for alleged crimes against humanity committed against opponents of the regime.

The international military operation in Libya entered its 100th day on Monday, with the rebels still struggling to take advantage of coalition air strikes on Col Gaddafi's infrastructure.

The Libyan news agency reported fresh strikes on Tripoli overnight.
'Consolidating gains'

The rebels control the east of the country as well as pockets of western Libya, including the Nafusa mountains.

Guma el-Gamaty, a spokesman for the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC), told AP news agency that Bir al-Ghanam - the focus of the latest fighting - was important as it was barely 30km (18 miles) south of Zawiya, a western gateway to Tripoli.

Opposition fighters seized Zawiya in March before government troops drove the rebels out of the oil-refinery city. Fighting again broke out there this month.

The BBC's Mark Doyle, who is in the village of Bir Ayad near Bir al-Ghanam, says Sunday's fighting began when government forces tried to cut off the rebels by attacking from behind.

Clashes continued in the distance, where the boom of artillery, the rattle of automatic gunfire and the occasional rumble of Nato jets could be heard, he says.

A medic said two rebels had died in the battle. The rebels said government forces suffered far greater casualties, although that cannot be confirmed.

The rebels came down into the plains from the Nafusa mountains in early June, adds our correspondent. But they have met strong resistance from Col Gaddafi's forces.

He says that although it is a shifting front line, the rebels appear to be gradually consolidating their position in the mountains.

The minister of defence for Libya's rebels, Jalal al-Dgheli, told the BBC that because their weapons were so limited, most of them were focused on the push from the western mountains towards Tripoli.

But in the near future there could be an advance from the east near Brega towards Tripoli, he told the BBC's Bridget Kendall in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

"What we're learning from defectors is that Gaddafi's supporters are getting fewer, people who are close to him are abandoning him, and his inner circle is getting smaller by the day."

He added that he hoped Col Gaddafi could be gone by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in August, but our correspondent said this could be wishful thinking.
'Election proposal'

The Libyan government on Sunday meanwhile reportedly renewed its offer for a vote on whether Col Gaddafi should stay in power.

Gaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim was quoted as telling reporters in Tripoli that the government was proposing a period of national dialogue and an election overseen by the UN and African Union.

fires at a graduation ceremony after a weapons training course in Tripoli
"If the Libyan people decide Gaddafi should leave he will leave," Mr Ibrahim was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. "If the people decide he should stay he will stay."

But he said Col Gaddafi - who has run the oil-producing country since a military coup in 1969 - would not go into exile.

The idea of holding an election was first raised earlier this month by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Since then Italy has called for a political settlement to the conflict, following a Nato strike in Tripoli on 19 June that killed several civilians.

In a separate development, African leaders meeting in Pretoria said Col Gaddafi has agreed to stay out of talks aimed at ending the conflict.

In a communique after talks on Sunday, the African Union panel on Libya said it welcomed "Col Gaddafi's acceptance of not being part of the negotiations process".

The statement did not elaborate.

Martyr's (Green) Square Tripoli



(Reuters) - In Tripoli's Green Square, volunteers hand out the green flag, symbol of Libya since Muammar Gaddafi's 1969 coup, and a giant picture of the "brother leader" looks down on the palm-lined streets.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/05/03/us-libya-tripoli-mood-idUKTRE7424XS20110503

But in other neighborhoods, dissidents come out in the dead of night and leave the red, green and black rebel flag unfurled in the streets, residents and opposition activists say.

Opposition graffiti appears overnight, they say, only to be painted over in the morning or replaced with the pro-government slogan "God, Muammar, Libya and that's all."
With the uprising now in its third month, Tripoli remains under Gaddafi's control and he can count on a certain amount of popular support. But tension is simmering beneath the surface.

"Things are tense. They are not normal. I think something will explode soon. There are rumblings at night. You hear gunfire and it is not always celebratory," said one Tripoli resident. "In some neighborhoods, people wake up and find the rebel flag. It is just a sign, just to say 'we are here'."

It is difficult for foreign correspondents to venture out without government minders to check what is behind the occasional bursts of gunfire heard overnight.

Ten days ago, small arms fire and anti-aircraft guns rattled for over two hours outside the hotel where foreign journalists are staying. Gaddafi supporters said they were celebrating the rumored death of a rebel leader.

In a sign of growing concern that sanctions and NATO strikes could cripple Gaddafi's military efforts, text messages were sent to Libyan mobile phones in the following days, urging Libyans to save their ammunition for "the crusader enemy."

"The situation across the whole coast, from Misrata to Tripoli is tense. It is ready to blow," the resident said.

Fearing Gaddafi's plainclothes security and chastened by his crackdown on protests in February and March, Tripoli residents are afraid to speak, making it hard to gauge the public mood.

In the winding alleys of Tripoli's old souk, few shopkeepers agreed to speak. Asked how business was, one man said: "Fine" and turned back to his television set. Another made a gesture with his hand showing the situation was rocky.

In the pro-Gaddafi neighborhood of Abu Salim, a jeweler's face visibly blanched, sweat appearing on his brow, when he was approached by journalists with government minders looking on.

But snatches of conversation overheard among stacks of traditional clothes and cloth caps displayed in the old souk, suggest politics is on people's mind.

"How are you going to get into Misrata," one shopkeeper asked a friend, before he noticed passers-by and fell silent.

Elsewhere in Tripoli, a shopkeeper, who declined to give his name, said Gaddafi and his sons should all go.

"This man needs to go. After 41 years, he still wants to hand Libya over to his son. Is there no one else in this country?" he said, changing the subject when customers came in.

"Look what he is doing in Misrata, attacking the people. He wiped out Zawiyah and for what? So he can hand it to his son?."

Fighting has raged in Misrata for weeks now, but government forces have put down a rebellion in Zawiyah, west of Tripoli.

PETROL AND PROPAGANDA

In the petrol queues that wind around corners and block streets, scuffles are breaking out and frustration is rising as civilians wait overnight, in some cases for days, to fill up.

Sanctions have made it much more difficult for Gaddafi's government to import gasoline, and it is largely relying on one 120,000-liter-a-day refinery in Zawiyah to serve the government-controlled west.

The dinar has lost value, pushing up the prices of some imported food and consumer goods on which Libya depends.

The mood differs over neighborhoods.

In areas like Tajoura or Fashloom, the focal points of protests that shook the capital early on, streets are covered in green flags and crawling with informers, but there is tension.

The Tripoli resident said small numbers of youths come out at night and the discontent is spreading to other areas such as the upscale neighborhood of Gergaresh.

With the internet switched off, young activists are finding it hard to organize and people are too scared to come out due to what many believe has been a spate of detentions.

In the pro-Gaddafi working class area of Abu Salim, music stalls blare songs released to back Gaddafi and taunt dissidents he has vowed to weed out "zenga zenga" or "alley by alley."

Outside the national museum, set in a seafront fortress, a group of volunteers collect fingerprints of people who pledge support for Gaddafi and denounce NATO intervention in Libya.

Speaking outside a meeting of pro-Gaddafi tribes in Aziziyah, 60 km (40 miles) outside Tripoli on Saturday, Nasreddine Abou Amaid praised Gaddafi for handing out 500 dinars a month: "People who don't work get a salary. Hospitals are free. Bread is so cheap we feed it to the chickens and sheep."

That view was echoed by a taxi driver, who had a green flag on his dashboard and said he volunteered as an ambulance driver by night: "These people against Gaddafi are animals. If you have lived in peace and stability for years, why would you change that? We don't even close our doors at night."

MISTRUST

But those views are not universal.

A driver, who gave his name as Ahmed, said Libya was not run on merit but on connections. Those close to the Gaddafis benefitted. Others suffered, despite Libya's vast oil wealth.

"You hear about Libya and you imagine it to be different to this, an oil country, but I would not be working as a driver if we were rich," he said. "Libya is rich. People are poor."

Mistrust of the Gaddafi government runs so deep amongst some, that the shopkeeper said he did not believe government reports that Gaddafi's son Saif al-Arab and three grandchildren were killed in a NATO airstrike on Saturday.

It was a ruse, he said, to force NATO to stop its attacks and to elicit public sympathy.

"No one is with him except the few people who are benefitting," he said, adding that people were simply afraid to speak out. "In Tripoli, if you say anything you are disappeared and no one knows what happened to you."

Still, At Saif's funeral on Monday, crowds chanted support for Gaddafi and vowed revenge for the attack.

"We are all with Gaddafi's Libya," read one placard

Inside the Old Protestant Cemetery - Tripoli

Inside the Old Protestant Cemetery - Tripoli

Red Castle Fort, Tripoli Harbor, Libya

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Battle of Tripoli - May-June 2011



Many thanks to those over at LibyaYouthMovement.com for providing these terrific maps of Libyan battle fronts.

All the best!

Zoom in and read and survey the scene of the Battle of Tripoli - 2011

Apparently the African Football Union is still planning on holding their final match in Libya in 2012, so they must expect the revolution to be over by then.

Gee, the American Revolution took seven years and the rebels wouldn't have won if it wasn't for the French Navy.

If America had lost the revolution we'd all be speaking English now.

Libyan Revolution T-Shirt



Brought to you by ABC-TV

After the revolution I'd like to open a hot dog stand and maybe a cheesesteak, hoagie and Trenton style pizza parlor on Green-Martyr's Square.

LibyaYouthMovement and Jabal Nafusa News



15:19 Jabal Nafusa News The Jabal Nafusa (western mountain) Revolutionaries have managed to seize control of the electric power plant in Shakshook area and the petrol station in Gasr Al Haj. They are in full control of the area between shakshook and Gasr Al Haj and have managed to capture 1 soldier from Gaddafi’s forces and a number of military vehicles.

http://www.libyafeb17.com/2011/06/june-1st-updates/

LibyaYouthMovement Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/LibyanYouthMovement?sk=wall&filter=2

Morgan Strong – Tripoli Post -
http://tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c=1&i=6094

Libyan Football Logo

Soccer Football Fans fly Revolutionary Flag

Libyan Footballers Rebel

Libyan National Football Team



This might be the Algerian team, not the Libyan national team.

In any case, after the success of the Tunisian revolution, in early February, 2011, the Libyan national team was scheduled to play a game - (a friendly?) match against the Algerian team, but it was cancelled because the governments of both countries were afraid of having so many people together in one place and thought it might be safer to cancel it.

That, of course, should have triggered the interests of intelligence analysts interested in predicting unrest, and is what instigated me to start a blog on the revolution and begin a chronology and timeline of events.

The title Revolutionary Program stems sports programs you buy at a game that gives you the names, numbers and positions of players and details about the teams, with the idea that the revolution should be covered like a beat reporter covers a sports team or one sport in general.

At first I tried to report or cover what was happening in all the countries where the revolt has reached - from Tunisia to Egypt, Bahrain, Yeman, Syria, and even touching on Algeria, Morocco, Spain and Saudi Arabia, but Libya took center stage after Feb. 15, and I have to focus on Libya because I happen to know something about it and its history.

Also see by Remembertheintrepid.blogspot.com for deep background on US-Libya relations over the past 200 years.

Juma Gtat - Tripoli Goalie Joins Rebels



Juma Gtat, goalkeeper for the Libyan national team, manning a rebel gun.

Revolutionary Soccer Football III



By JAMES M. DORSEY (James M. Dorsey, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, is a senior researcher at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. He can be reached via email at: questfze@gmail.com

AL ARABIYA
http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/06/25/154730.html

A group of 17 leading Libyan football figures have defected to NATO-backed rebels fighting to overthrow Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi.

The defectors include national team goalkeeper, Juma Gtat, three other national team members, and the coach of Tripoli’s top club al-Ahli, Adel bin Issa. Al Ahli is owned by Mr. Qaddafi’s mercurial, soccer playing son, Al Saadi Al Qaddafi.

Mr. Gtat and Mr. Bin Issa announced the group’s defection during a late night meeting in the rebel-held Nafusa Mountains in western Libya.

“I am telling Colonel Qaddafi to leave us alone and allow us to create a free Libya. In fact I wish he would leave this life altogether,” Mr. Gtat said in a BBC interview in a hotel in the town of Jadu in the presence of other players.

The defections constitute a symbolic blow to Mr. Qadaffi. All the more so because it is only three months ago that Al Ahli Tripoli fans cheered Saadi as he toured Tripoli’s Green Square on the roof of a car, waving and shaking the hands of supporters, who chanted “God, Libya and Muammar only.”

The defections also are in stark contrast to the attitudes of soccer players elsewhere in North Africa who have largely stood on the side lines of anti-government protests even though their supporters played a key role in the demonstrations that toppled the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

The players’ failure to back the protests in Egypt and Tunisia has led to tension with their fans who feel that they have always supported their teams but that the players had abandoned them in their time of need.

The defection of the players has added significance because soccer was under Mr. Qaddafi an arena of confrontation between supporters and opponents of the Libyan leader long before the eruption of this year’s revolt.

Resentment against the Qaddafi regime in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi was fuelled when the fortunes of the city’s soccer team, also named Al Ahli, tumbled on and off the field a decade ago when Saadi took a majority stake in and became captain of it its Tripoli namesake and arch rival.

In a country in which the mosque and the soccer pitch were the only release valves for pent-up anger and frustration prior to this month’s protests, Saadi’s association with Al Ahli Tripoli meant that the prestige of the regime was on the line whenever the team played. As a result, soccer was as much a political match as it was a sports competition in which politics rather than performance often dictated the outcome of matches.

When Benghazi’s Al Ahli took a 1:0 lead in a match in the summer of 2000 against its Tripoli namesake, Saadi engineered that the referee imposed two penalties against it and also granted Al Ahli Tripoli an offside. The Benghazi players walked off the pitch in protest but were forced by Saadi’s guards to return. Tripoli won the game 3:1.

A similar incident occurred when Benghazi’s Al Ahli played against a team from Al-Baydah, the home town of Saadi’s mother and the place where the first anti-Qaddafi demonstrations erupted this year in protest against corruption in public housing.

Things came to a head a decade ago when Saadi engineered Al Ahli Benghazi’s relegation to the second division. A referee in a match against Libyan premier league team Al Akhdar sought to ensure Al Ahli’s humiliation by calling a questionable penalty that would have sealed Al Ahli’s disgrace.

Al Ahli’s coach confronted the referee, allegedly shoving him. Militant fans stormed the pitch. The game was suspended and Al Ahli’s fate was sealed.

Al Ahli fans didn’t leave it at that. They headed to downtown Benghazi shouting slogans against Mr. Qaddafi junior, burnt a likeness of his father and set fire to the local branch of his national soccer federation.

“I was ready to die that day, I was so frustrated,” The Los Angeles Times quoted 48-year old businessman Ali Ali, who was among the enraged crowd, as saying. “We were all ready to die.”

It did not take long for Libyan plainclothes security men to respond. Al Ahli’s 37-hectare clubhouse and facilities were razed to the ground as plainclothesmen visited the homes of protesting soccer fans. The rubble is till today all that is left of the clubhouse.

Some 80 were arrested of whom 30 for trial to Tripoli on charges of vandalism, destruction of public property and having contacts with Libyan dissidents abroad, a capital offense in Libya.

Three people were sentenced to death, but their penalties were converted to life in prison by the Libyan rule. The three were released after serving five years in prison.

Public outrage over the retaliation against Benghazi forced Saadi to resign as head of the federation, only to be reinstated by his father in response to the federation’s alleged claim that it needed Qaddafi’s son as its leader.

The resistance of Benghazi’s Al Ahli to Saadi’s machinations was all the more remarkable in a country in which sports broadcasters were forbidden to identify players by name to ensure that they did not become more popular than Mr. Qaddafi junior.

James M. Dorsey, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, is a senior researcher at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

http://www.attackingsoccer.com/

7 Libyan football star’s have joined the anti-Gaddafi rebels, four of which are members of the Natinal side. Goalkeeper Juma Gtat one of the defectors revealed ” I hope to wake up one morning to find Gaddafi is no longer there.

Libyan football stars defect to the mountains join anti-Gaddafi rebels

Four members of Libya's national football team and 13 other leading figures in the sport have defected to the rebels.

By Nick Meo, Tripoli
9:23AM BST 25 Jun 2011
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8598235/Libyan-football-stars-defect-to-the-mountains-join-anti-Gaddafi-rebels.html

For 40 years Libya’s footballers have been the pride of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s repressive regime, hailed as heroes of the nation for every victory against a foreign team.

From the moment Libya first qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in 1982, surprising the continent by making it to the final before losing a penalty shoot-out, to its recent Fifa listing as 58th in the world, its highest ever ranking, every triumph on the pitch has been celebrated across the country.

So enthusiastic was the Libyan leader about the prowess of his country’s players that he installed his son, Saadi, as president of the Libyan Football Federation after a spell as captain of the national football team.

So there must have been cold fury at the top of Gaddafi government on Saturday when 17 footballing figures, including four who said they were members of the national team, turned up unexpectedly in a rebel-held town and declared themselves opponents of the regime.

“I am telling Colonel Gaddafi to leave us alone and allow us to create a free Libya,” said Juma Gtat, 33, who has played as goalkeeper in the national team. “In fact I wish he would leave this life altogether.”

He was speaking in Jadu in Libya’s western mountains, 50 miles south of Tripoli, where rebels have seized a swathe of territory that stretches to the Tunisian border after driving Gaddafi’s forces back towards the capital.

Adding insult to injury he was flanked by Adel bin Issa, the coach of Tripoli’s top club al-Ahly where Saadi Gaddafi used to play, who said he had come to the town “to send a message that Libya should be unified and free”, adding: “I hope to wake up one morning to find that Gaddafi is no longer there.”

Others were afraid to be named, in case of reprisals against their families.

A Libyan official in Tripoli poured cold water on the claims, saying: “This is not true. It is just a goalkeeper who has appeared for al-Ahly and a coach, who is from Bayda and has been with the revolution from the beginning. No players from the national team have defected.”

But The Sunday Telegraph has confirmed that, although not listed on the most recent national squad, Mr Gtat has played for Libya on several occasions and was celebrated as the saviour of the team after saving a penalty shot by Tunisia during a qualifying match for the 2009 African Championship of Nations.

Gaddafi had “done nothing for Libya since he took over; there’s no proper infrastructure, no good education, no health care,” he told the BBC.

“The young people are not well educated. This is because of the last 42 years.”
The western mountains are now almost wholly in the hands of lightly-armed ethnic Berber rebels who have driven out government forces and fought off counter-attacks.
They lack the weaponry to march on Tripoli — less than an hour’s drive from their positions — but claim to have cut one of the regime’s last oil pipelines and say they are assisting guerrilla fighters in the capital. Rebels claim to be launching more night-time attacks against Gaddafi’s security forces in preparation for a new uprising.

The rebels’ mountain enclave also makes defections much easier.

Saddoun al Misrati, of Misurata council, said: “Just like in England, footballers here are big celebrities. For these men to willingly make the move shows how bad the situation must be in Tripoli, about how much they want to bring change.”

Gaddafi’s son Saadi played one game for the Italian club Perugia before he was suspended for failing a drugs test. He also signed with a Maltese club, but never showed up to play, and was for a while president of the Libyan Football Federation.
Fans in Benghazi once dressed a donkey in the kit of al-Ahly to mock Saadi, a notoriously poor player, provoking a vicious crackdown. Fans believe it was Saadi who ordered their stadium bulldozed and dozens of supporters jailed.

In February he directed the brutal security crackdown in Benghazi at the beginning of the uprising, where he was accused of ordering soldiers to shoot unarmed protesters.
The defection of players from his club comes as 100 days of Nato bombing are reached today . Muammar Gaddafi looked doomed four months ago when the uprising broke out; yet he has survived the initial shock of rebellion, and then the worst that the world’s strongest military alliance could throw at him.

“It has been a glorious victory just to withstand for so long,” Gaddafi declared on state television last week, as a loop of pictures showed burning buildings, gigantic explosions, and dead and wounded children and civilians in Libya’s hospitals.

His voice quivered with emotion as the camera lingered on the dead face of the four-year-old grandchild of one of his oldest comrades. Khoweildi al-Hamidi was a fellow army officer who helped Gaddafi launch his revolution in 1969, then served him loyally for years before taking command of the brutal operation to crush rebels in the town of Zawiyah in February.

Eight Nato bombs released from aircraft three miles high in the sky smashed precisely into Hamidi’s luxurious home 40 miles west of Tripoli, turning it into a field of rubble in which servants and family members were buried as they slept. Miraculously, the man who Nato said used his home as a command and control centre escaped without a scratch.
The attack seemed to mark a new willingness by Nato to target key regime figures, even if that meant a risk of some civilian casualties.

Fifteen more civilians died yesterday when an airstrike hit a bakery and restaurant in the frontline oil town of Brega in eastern Libya, the government claimed — the third reported loss of civilian lives in an airstrike in the past week.

Pictures of civilian casualties have handed a potent propaganda weapon to the hardliners and old revolutionaries who now run things.
“The people still around him have genuine loyalty, and there is an element of wanting to avoid punishment for the crimes they have committed,” said Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya.

“Muammar Gaddafi himself is very tough and can take a lot of punishment.”
What has heartened the remaining members of the regime is the sense that there are growing fractures within Nato. The US and Italy look less than fully committed and in Britain, military chiefs have publicly expressed doubts about their ability to sustain the fight.

It would threaten the RAF’s ability to carry out future missions if Britain’s intervention in Libya continued beyond the summer, Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, the head of combat operations, said last week.

Gaddafi loyalists are clinging to the hope that, if they can only hold on in the current stalemate for a few more weeks, Nato will lose heart - or interest - and some kind of negotiated deal will become possible.

“They are fighting for time now, not land or victory,” said Noman Benotman, a Libyan analyst based in London.

“Their strategy is either to reach a political settlement which includes leaving the Gaddafi family in power, or to split the country.”

The loyalist line in Tripoli, repeatedly endlessly, is that Gaddafi will never go.
“If you think Muammar Gaddafi will step down, you don’t know Muammar Gaddafi,” said Abdul Najid al-Dorsi, a former foreign ministry official, over a cup of mint tea in the seven-star Rixos Hotel, which is now home to foreign journalists, government minders, and gentlemen who sit in chairs in the foyer all day pretending to read newspapers but staring intently at every new arrival.

According to this theory Gaddafi is an Arab hero and a leader who would never let down his tribal supporters by backing away from a fight with foreigners.

Libyan officials, who raise the spectre of civil war if he goes, point out that already 400 of the Warfala tribe have died fighting for Gaddafi, as have 200 of the much smaller Gaddafa tribe to which he himself belongs - making it impossible for him to step down now without betraying the memory of these martyrs.

It is partly for that reason that the rebels mistrust the feelers put out to them by the regime in recent days.

Last week Bashir Hamed, Gaddafi’s personal secretary and adviser for 35 years, quietly travelled to Paris to deliver a message to the French government that the regime was ready to talk about Gaddafi stepping down.

Yet when pressed Mr Hamed could not say when Gaddafi would actually go - making it look like another attempt at stalling by the Libyan leader.

Some in both Benghazi and Tripoli whisper quietly that perhaps Gaddafi might accept internal exile, perhaps in the remote south of the country deep in the Sahara where his greatest popular support lies.

Such an outcome could remove him from political life but leave him beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court, where he would face trial for war crimes if he tried to flee Libya.

The regime’s battle for survival is now based around his sons and a few trusted old comrades like Hamidi, the lieutenant who was targeted in last week’s airstrike. Nearly all the modernisers and reformists have defected from the regime, or are lying low.

As well as the footballer Saadi, three of Gaddafi’s sons have taken prominent battlefield roles fighting against rebels. Moatessem, an army officer, has been reported in the loyalist city Sirte directing operations.

Hannibal, a playboy formerly best known from his troubles with police in various European capitals, has also taken a combat role, but the most prominent of the warrior sons has been Khamis, formerly the obscure youngest son. He is in command of the crack 32 Brigade, one of Gaddafi’s most effective forces, around Misurata and elsewhere in the east.

As Khamis’s star has risen during the course of the crisis, Saif-al Islam’s has waned.
Saif was the English-educated reformist who had been positioned as his father’s likely successor.

His interventions early in the crisis, threatening brutal treatment to rebels, were disastrous miscalculations which ruined his carefully-crafted nice guy image. The regime has however tried again to portray him as the peacemaker; a fortnight ago he surfaced to make an unconvincing offer to hold elections, an offer which was contemptuously rejected by the rebels.

“Saif is finished,” said one regime supporter last week in Tripoli. “He got us into this mess by trying to reform too quickly.” Many of the rebel leaders in Benghazi are former protégés of Saif.

A sixth son, Saif al-Arab, was killed in a bombing attack in May along with three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren, the regime says.

Gaddafi’s pregnant daughter Ayesha was reported to have fled to Tunisia early in the bombing campaign with her husband, a soldier who had been injured, accompanied by her mother Safiya, Gaddafi’s second wife.

But there have been no sightings of them for weeks and so they are believed to have returned home.

The flow of high-level defectors, including men like the former foreign secretary Moussa Kusa, has slowed to a trickle.

Remaining officials, the hard-core of loyalists, remain convinced that somehow they are going to stay in power. They even have an answer for their biggest problem — Nato’s insistence that Gaddafi must step down.

“Gaddafi could accept elections,” one said. “Elections would be regime change, after all. That’s Nato’s exit strategy.”

Additional reporting Ruth Sherlock in Misurata and Samer al Atrush in Cairo

Misatra Battlefield Schematic

Misatra Map

Misatra Battle Map - May 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Report from Mistrata



Report from Libya: Misrata's Terrifying Routine

By Andrew Harding

The rebels have paid a heavy price for not digging trenches to protect themselves
Libya Crisis

First comes the distant, early-morning thunder as the bombardments start on the western front; then the louder booms of rockets hitting Misrata itself. Before long there's the wail of ambulances, and the dull roar of Nato jets overhead.

After weeks of fighting on a long, meandering front line that seems to have got bogged down in the dunes, woods and orchards surrounding this rebel-held city, the conflict here has settled into something close to a daily routine. Terrifying and chaotic - but a routine nonetheless.

Before breakfast this morning, I stood on the roof as usual and watched three plumes of smoke rise from the port area to the east. From the west, the familiar rumble of Col Gaddafi's rocket bombardment was longer and louder than usual.

Soon we were driving out of Misrata towards the western front - a tentative, stop-and-start process, as we checked each roadblock for news of incoming fire.

Risk worth taking?
The first ambulances were already rushing past. Suddenly, one smashed into a passing car a couple of metres behind us. A bloodied driver was put into another car and driven to hospital.

Before long, on a dusty country road maybe 15km (10 miles) outside the city, we saw the first plumes of smoke, and then heard the sickening scream of shells overhead.

This is always the moment when the queasy calculations begin - spoken and unspoken. Wait? Retreat? What are the risks of pushing on, and are they worth taking?

For half an hour, we paused, perhaps 3km behind the front line. A rebel mortar position was firing over our heads. The boom of distant rockets echoed around us. Two artillery rounds fired by Col Gaddafi's forces smashed into the woods just ahead, setting fire to the trees.

Then came the faint drone of at least one Nato jet in the clouds, and with it - that routine again - Col Gaddafi's rockets and artillery fell abruptly, and more or less completely, silent.

"They push the guns away under the trees now - to hide them," a young fighter explained. "While Nato is up there, it will be quiet."

The trouble with lulls is that you have no way of telling how long they'll last. I can remember, as if it was yesterday, an unbearably long walk through rubble and snow to the ghostly centre of Grozny in January 1995, when the Russian guns fell silent for an hour.

Rockets and rebels
We decided to move on, and a few minutes later joined Libya's rebels on the front, sheltering behind a long ridge of sandy earth. After a "busy" morning, the fighters were relaxing - some gathered on a blanket eating rice and stew. There was a gun battle rattling on a little to the north, but the men shrugged it off.

It's not quite trench warfare here; in fact the rebels have been oddly reluctant to - and heavily punished for - failing to dig in properly. "It's in God's hands," they invariably say, when another casualty is taken away. But the battle here appears to be deadlocked, with the rebels pinned down by Col Gaddafi's rockets, and unable to make any significant advances across the narrow strip of open land that separates the two sides.

We did not stay long.

One shell whistled above us and smashed into an orchard perhaps 100m away.

By the time we reached a nearby field clinic the front line ambulance crews had brought in six dead, and 36 wounded fighters - a little higher than usual, but nothing out of the ordinary in this war of attrition. The casualties had already been sent back to the main hospitals in the city centre.

And so by early evening, the usual crowds were gathered outside the Hekma hospital in Misrata, scanning through lists of the dead and wounded. The death toll had risen to 10 by then. Local radio started broadcasting appeals for blood donations.

A little later, we heard more explosions coming from the port area, and news of another civilian casualty. For weeks Misrata itself has been spared the indiscriminate bombardments that killed so many civilians here in April and early May. But somehow Col Gaddafi's rockets seem to be back in range. On Friday, a woman was killed in her kitchen. On Saturday, another woman was killed. Today, a pregnant woman was badly injured.

And now the light is fading. Outside the building we're staying in, the non-stop, looped recordings of "God is great" continue to sing plaintively across the city from half a dozen mosques.

Tomorrow, I imagine, will be much the same.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Report from Tripoli June 17 2011



THE ANCIENT RED CASTLE FORT - AL-SARAYA AL-HAMRA -
AND MARTYR'S SQUARE
IS AT THE END OF TRIPOLI ROAD
WHERE THE REVOLUTION WILL EVENTUALLY
COME TO A HEAD

Report from Tripoli

In Tripoli, Muammar Gaddafi's opponents are preparing for a new uprising when rebels draw closer

Opponents of Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli are preparing to launch a new uprising, as they lose their fear of the embattled regime's weakened security forces.

By Nick Meo, Tripoli
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8584268/In-Tripoli-Muammar-Gaddafis-opponents-are-preparing-for-a-new-uprising-when-rebels-draw-closer.html

7:12PM BST 18 Jun 2011

The first sign that the street was anti-Gaddafi was a surprising whisper from the men in T-shirts and jeans who were loitering in shop doorways.

"David Cameron, very good," they said with a wink – coded approval for Nato's bombing campaign against Gaddafi.

Soon a young man called Abdul approached, eager to tell the outside world that Tripoli's youths have not lost their zeal for fighting the regime.

"We're waiting for the moment," he said. "Bit by bit the government is losing its control. There are no security forces in Tripoli any more – they are all at the front.

"When we tried to have an uprising in February there were tanks everywhere in the capital and it was crushed. But they are not here now. We are ready again and when the opportunity comes it will be quick and we will force Gaddafi out."

He said thousands like him were waiting for rebel forces to approach nearer the capital, when they would take to the streets again. A few weeks ago most people in Tripoli were too scared to speak to a foreign journalist; the willingness of young men like him to speak marks a growing confidence among Gaddafi opponents.

The changing mood comes despite repeated claims by the Libyan government - including, on Friday night, by the prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmudi - that it is in clandestine talks with the rebels. "Ask the Egyptians, French, Norwegians and Tunisians for information. They will tell you the truth," he said. "We are sure of our meetings and everything has been recorded." That claim was denied by the rebels' leader, Mahmud Jibril, and by French officials.

The regime hopes that it can tough it out for long enough for Nato to lose heart and momentum; the alliance hopes that the regime will succumb to the slow stranglehold in which it has been caught. Yesterday Nato hailed what it called "positive signs" that civilians were rallying against the regime.

Abdul guided The Sunday Telegraph around the old city's maze of alleys and souks for nearly two hours, greeting friends who denounced the man officially known as the Brother Leader. They were working-class men in their twenties, frustrated by the regime's stifling rule and eager for revenge after their friends were killed and they were beaten during February's uprising.

Most of them lived in squalid, ramshackle slums which missed out on the oil wealth Gaddafi lavished on Libya's elite; but even in residential areas in southern Tripoli, places considered solidly Gaddafi-supporting, young men with middle-class parents were easily found who would speak out against the Libyan leader.

"I hate him now, after the killing in February. He has to go," one man in a confectionary shop said in fluent English, within hearing of bystanders.

They appeared to have little formal organisation and no clear leadership, but are in contact with each other on the internet and by word of mouth. The lack of organisation may make it harder for a crackdown by security forces, who are keenly aware that Gaddafi's rule in Benghazi and the east was overthrown by similar informal networks of friends angry with the regime.

Discontent has been fuelled by crippling economic problems. Prices have increased sharply in recent weeks, petrol, some types of food and cigarettes are no longer affordable for ordinary Libyans, and workers have gone without payment for weeks or simply lost their jobs.
Groups of protesters have meanwhile embarked on a low-level urban guerrilla war against security forces, launching hit-and-run attacks in districts a few miles east of the city centre which are hotbeds of opposition to Gaddafi. Some working-class districts of Tripoli have become virtual no-go areas for Gaddafi's forces, which set up random checkpoints on Thursday to search vehicles for weapons.

The day before, shoppers sprinted for cover when gunfire erupted in a street just south of Green Square, the spiritual home of Gaddafi's revolution in the centre of the city, and after dark unexplained fire fights are now commonplace across Tripoli. Opponents of the regime are also being smuggled east to join rebel forces in the embattled city of Zlintan.

Abdul admitted that the prospect of the battle ahead was frightening for the city's population. Gaddafi has distributed weapons to thousands of his supporters, who can be seen driving around with Kalashnikovs in their cars or firing them wildly in the air at official demonstrations.

"Everybody is worried about what will happen," Abdul said. "We want to get rid of him but we don't know what the cost will be in blood." There was also evidence of torn loyalties and the pressure that the civil war is putting on Libyan society. Abdul said four of his friends, all aged 26 who had grown up together, had been recruited to fight for Gaddafi's army but did not return.

"I begged them not to go," he said. "They didn't even believe in Gaddafi, they just needed the money and thought they would be doing safe things like handling ammunition and cooking. There are so many young men who are unemployed in Libya. Now for the sake of 200 dinars (£102) they are dead." Friction is growing between Arabs and black Libyans, many of whom have stayed loyal to Gaddafi, he added.

One reason for the growing boldness of opponents is that Gaddafi's security forces are simply not very visible any more, although some men said there were still secret police and informers around. "You don't see any police. But that's the point," said a man wearing wraparound sunglasses, standing outside a gold dealer's shop. "You're not supposed to see them."

Colonel Gaddafi's attempts to cling to power have also been challenged in the past 10 days by new revolts breaking out in small towns in western and southern Libya.
His remaining loyal forces are becoming severely overstretched as they are attacked by Nato from the air – there were five air strikes in Tripoli early yesterday and dozens last week – and struggle to hold back rebel fighters beginning an offensive from the east.

If Tripoli's two million population came out on the streets again for mass demonstrations security forces might find it impossible to cope, although Gaddafi is believed still to command reserves of ruthless special forces units, including fanatics sworn to fight to the death for him. Such units have already killed large numbers of civilians to maintain his grip on power.

Tajoura, the suburb of the capital which is most hostile to Gaddafi, was quiet but tense when The Sunday Telegraph visited last week, with a few soldiers in the town centre.
Opponents of the regime say that since protests were crushed there it has become a centre of guerrilla war. "This place is dangerous now," said a Libyan who spoke English. "Whatever you do don't stay here at night."

Most of the noisy official pro-government demonstrations struggle to attract more than a few hundred people, many of them paid to turn up, although the regime did manage to put on an impressive display of support on Friday afternoon.

Colonel Gaddafi broadcast a live telephone call to supporters gathered in Green Square, telling them "Nato is bound to be defeated" and making a spitting noise as he called the rebels "sons of dogs". The crowd cheered, whooped and fired their guns in the air.
One Gaddafi supporter, Osama Madi, who was studying to be a tourism student before
the crisis, said: "I truly love Muammar Gaddafi. He is like a father to me. Every day when I wake up I cannot believe that this fighting is going on. It is like a nightmare, not reality."

On the streets there were still plenty of men ready to pledge their support for the Libyan leader, but that may not signify much. "They say they like Gaddafi, but they have to say that," one teenager said, before changing the subject to a safer one.


Libyan Rebels Trumpet Coordination in Attacks

Published: June 16, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/world/africa/17libya.html?pagewanted=2

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

TRIPOLI, Libya — Emboldened by improvements in their military communications, the rebels challenging Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi say they are now coordinating attacks on three fronts in order to stretch the loyalist forces’ defenses.

Their efforts were evident this week, rebels say, as they initiated new attacks in the east from Benghazi toward the oil port of Brega; on the central coast from Misurata toward the pivotal barracks town of Zlitan; and from their newest stronghold in the Nafusah Mountains into the town of Zawiyah on the doorstep of the capital.

In addition, rebel spokesmen in Misurata and Benghazi said they had succeeded in smuggling weapons to cells of allies here in the capital, where residents say there are nightly clashes with Qaddafi security forces in the rebellious neighborhoods of Tajura, Souq al-Juma and Feshloom.

Two Tripoli residents said Thursday that rebel supporters in Tajura and Souq al-Juma were distributing leaflets urging Qaddafi soldiers to put down their weapons and the residents to rise up. A rebel spokesman in Benghazi said that the leaflets were composed in the east and e-mailed to the Tripoli residents to print and distribute.

The existence or origin of the leaflets could not be confirmed because foreign journalists trying to visit the neighborhoods were stopped by Qaddafi soldiers and returned to their hotel. Nor could the level of rebel success on other fronts be determined.

On the most active front, between Misurata and Zlitan, a rebel spokesman said this week that the anti-Qaddafi forces had advanced as far west as the town of Naima, though NATO was urging them to retreat to the older front line at Dafniyah. Rebels and news agencies say NATO planes have been dropping leaflets urging Qaddafi soldiers to leave their weapons and flee, with pictures of an attack helicopter and a warning that when one arrives there is “nowhere to hide.”

Much of the information from the battlefield has been hard to verify and, at times, unreliable. The rebels said the city of Zlitan had risen up against Colonel Qaddafi, but during an official visit to the neighboring town of Al Khums many residents said that was overstated. Several residents, speaking in the presence of official government news media minders, said the only fighting was at the Dafniyah front. Two residents speaking without supervision said that Zlitan was at best divided, with some residents attacking the Qaddafi troops stationed there.

In other cases the rebel communications system may have transmitted overly optimistic reports. Spokesmen in Misurata and Benghazi suggested Wednesday that the insurgents in the important oil port of Zawiyah had closed the main road through the town to the Tunisian border. But journalists traveling the road both ways said they passed undisturbed.
In Tripoli, officials of the Qaddafi government remained defiant. They said that the brief flare in violence in Zawiyah was quickly snuffed out, and that Zlitan, Brega and Tripoli were firmly under control.

After a meeting with a Russian envoy on Thursday, Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, the Libyan equivalent of a prime minister, told foreign journalists that he had categorically ruled out the demands of the rebels and NATO that Colonel Qaddafi leave power.
“The whole Libyan people are Muammar Qaddafi,” Mr. Mahmoudi said. He said to NATO, “You are betting on a losing horse.”

Still, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Colonel Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam appeared to go further than he had in the past in pledging democratic reforms in what seemed to be an attempt to persuade NATO to stop the bombing. He said that Libya could hold national elections under international supervision within three months, and that Colonel Qaddafi would step aside if he lost.

“My father’s regime as it developed since 1969 is dead,” the younger Qaddafi said.
Western officials and the rebels have insisted that Colonel Qaddafi and his family leave Libya before talks on its future can begin. Democratic reform “is not yours to offer any more; you are a war criminal,” said Jalal el-Gallal, a spokesman for the rebels in Benghazi.

After at least two large blasts not long before dawn on Thursday, government officials escorted foreign journalists to what they said was the site of the two blasts, the wreckage of a hotel adjacent to a government building. It had been closed for renovations after damage in an earlier bombing, and several people on the scene said that no one was injured.

Speaking nearby, the deputy foreign minister, Khalid Kaim, said bombing the same civilian building twice reflected NATO’s “brutality” and “stupidity.”
Around 11 p.m. Thursday, jets were heard again in the sky over the capital, and about a half-dozen bombs exploded around the city.

Security forces seemed not to be as prevalent in the capital as they had been in previous months, perhaps reflecting the impact of the NATO airstrikes or the widening front with the rebels. On the highways entering the city, checkpoints that a few weeks ago were heavily guarded by tanks, armored personnel carriers and well-equipped soldiers were staffed by only a few irregular guards.

And security within the city appeared much less conspicuous as well, with fewer checkpoints along the streets. One rebel sympathizer said the Qaddafi forces had switched to plain clothes to avoid guerrilla attacks by underground rebels operating in the city at night, although that could not be confirmed.

In the Nafusah Mountains in the west, where a few weeks ago desperate rebel fighters were struggling to survive and information was almost impossible to obtain from the outside, the rebels have consolidated their hold well enough to set up an official “Nefusa Mountain Media Group,” with its own Web site and multilingual spokesman.

Rebels in the mountains, Misurata and Benghazi said they had managed to smuggle in and distribute satellite telephones that have allowed them to improve their communication from disparate corners of the country, at the same time that NATO’s bombing raids have severely damaged the Qaddafi forces’ communication abilities. And rebel fighters are now equipped with high-frequency radios that allow better coordination in the field, the rebels say.
“The strategy is to stretch his resources and hopefully draw them from Tripoli,” said Mohamed, a rebel spokesman in Misurata whose full name was withheld for the protection of his family. “The link between Misurata and Benghazi is only five weeks ago, and it is only two weeks old in the mountains.”

The goal, said Mr. Gallal in Benghazi, is “to coordinate so we can strengthen the attacks and weaken him and bring this to a conclusion.”

In a sign of their growing optimism, rebels in Misurata and Benghazi say they have even begun preparing teams to help secure vital facilities in Tripoli in anticipation of the Qaddafi government’s collapse.

At the moment, however, there is no evidence whatsoever of that on the streets of the capital, where green flags and Qaddafi posters are everywhere and residents still look nervously over their shoulders before speaking with a foreign journalist.

Libyans fear the scorpion sting of Gaddafi's informers
The violence and suspicion that reigns on Tripoli's streets catches Xan Rice and a journalistic colleague in its sway

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/17/libya-gaddafi-informers-tripoli

Locals call them pimps or snitches. They wear plain clothes, drive unmarked cars and are as numerous as scorpions in the Libyan desert, only more dangerous. Loathed and feared in equal measure, they are the eyes and ears of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and a large part of the reason that Tripoli has not been able to join the revolt sweeping the country.

The informers' work has caused hundreds of men and women, perhaps many more, to be swept up into interrogation centres for the merest hint of dissent since Libya's uprising began four months ago. A stroll through the capital's old city on Friday morning, which started with a cup of tea and ended in the back of a battered pickup surrounded by screaming men with cocked AK-47s, offered an insight into their methods.

Together with Martin Fletcher, a Times reporter, I had planned to spend Friday morning in Tripoli's picturesque medina, killing time until lunchtime prayers. Then we would take a taxi to a suburb called Tajura where, according to rumours sweeping the city, an anti-Gaddafi protest was planned for the afternoon.

We slipped out of the Rixos hotel, where all foreign journalists have to stay, at 8.45am, minutes before the government minders instructed the guards not to let anyone else through the gate, and took a taxi to the seafront. It being a Friday – the Arab equivalent of a Sunday – the downtown area was quiet.

At a sidewalk cafe we had a cup of tea, and made small talk with the Algerian and Tunisian staff. A middle-aged man in a brown shirt seated near us was paying too much attention, so we quickly moved on. One of the customers ran after us with two cans of Coke, a gift in keeping with ordinary Libyans' unfailing generosity.

We strolled down Omar Mukhtar Street, where five men smoking shisha pipes invited us to sit down for a coffee. Two of them spoke English. They discussed the situation in Libya, choosing their words wisely, and invited us to visit the city when the war was over. They took our business cards, but declined to give their own phone numbers.

"I think you know why," one of the men said. The phone lines have ears too.

When the man began to talk about Nato, the other English speaker, a genial man with a yellow nicotine stain on his silver moustache, hissed: "Be careful what you say." Suddenly, they all stood up and left, wishing us well. Something had made them feel uneasy.

Further up the road, we stopped at the ambitiously named Four Seasons hotel, which had three large pictures of Gaddafi at the reception desk. As we sat on the terrace, a slim young man with a crisp white T-shirt tucked into his jeans arrived and took a seat nearby. Martin walked across the road to make a phone call and I wrote in my notebook. A friendly young Egyptian waiter told us there were no milkshakes – we were getting bored of tea and coffee – so we moved on.

A few blocks away, we noticed the man in the white T-shirt loitering on the corner. As we walked on, he followed us, so we doubled back past him, and slipped into the narrow streets of the labyrinth-like medina.We emerged onto the corniche where, while admiring the cobalt sea, we realised we had a new tail. Or rather two tails; one in red shirt with a straw hat, the other in a blue and white sport shirt. Soon, the man in the white T-shirt joined them.

Suddenly a red pickup screeched to a halt next to us. Five men, one in a khaki uniform but the others in plain clothes, jumped out, pointing their AK-47s at us. "Get in, get in!" they shouted. When we resisted they cocked their guns. We got in.

The pickup sped off, with our three "tails" now on the back. The gunmen inside screamed "Shut up!" and "No English" as we tried to explain that we were journalists. Racing along the seafront, we pulled up behind a police van at Green Square, in the heart of the city. Immediately another dozen or so unmarked police cars, surrounded us.

The man in the white T-shirt took Martin's satellite phone and passport, and demanded my notebook. I refused, handing over my journalist card instead. Shouting at us all the while, the security agents, now more than 20, most of them out of uniform, started arguing among themselves over what to do. Eventually they allowed us out of the car, where we saw that they had arrested the young Egyptian waiter from the coffee shop and brought him here. He looked terrified.

A sinister-looking man called Mortaza – camouflage pants, slicked backed hair, beard, sunglasses – turned out to be the most reasonable. After we told him that the Egyptian had barely spoken to us, he ordered him released. The man in the white T-shirt fumed, and shouted "Liar, liar" at Martin.

A smart black sedan with tinted windows and a huge security agent in the passenger seat took us back to the hotel. As we got out, the bodyguard said gruffly: "We are sorry."

William Hague Visits Benghazi



OPINION EUROPE JUNE 17, 2011
Maintaining Resolve in Libya
Time is working against Gadhafi and for the people he has oppressed.

By WILLIAM HAGUE (UK Foreign Secretary)

London

It has been four months since the Libyan people decided that they would no longer be denied their basic freedoms. And it has been 90 days since NATO-led operations prevented a brutal massacre in Benghazi and stopped the sort of slaughter that we witnessed in Srebrenica in 1995. From the start, these operations have had one objective: to protect civilians from the murderous actions of the Gadhafi regime. Our actions have saved countless lives. As we mark this milestone and reflect on progress, it is clear that our action is still necessary, legal and right.

The international community is united. There are 18 countries taking part in the military operations, many of them outside NATO and in the region of North Africa and the Middle East. At the Libya Contact Group meetings more than 40 states and international organizations have recognized that Moammar Gadhafi has lost all legitimacy and must leave. Russia too is in agreement with this ever-growing international consensus, as it expressed in the Group of Eight Summit statement last month at Deauville, France.

We have been clear from the start that we will stand by the Libyan people to realize their legitimate aspirations. We have done so through military operations around Benghazi, Misrata and other Libyan towns. We have done so by increasing the economic, diplomatic and political pressure on the Gadhafi regime. The United Nations has imposed a comprehensive sanctions regime, freezing assets, imposing travel bans and denying Gadhafi the arms and oil needed to sustain his military campaign. Satellite channels spouting regime propaganda have been taken off the air. States are refusing to see regime envoys, diplomats siding with the regime have been expelled, and the International Criminal Court's prosecutor has issued arrest warrants for the regime's ringleaders, including Gadhafi himself. Time is against them and working for the people of Libya.

At the 90-day mark it is clear that this broad-based strategy is working, marking the beginning of the end for the Gadhafi regime. Across Libya Gadhafi's forces are facing reversals. The terrible suffering of the people of Misrata has been relieved. In recent days, the opposition has pushed Gadhafi's followers out of the suburbs of Zawiyah and prevented the regime from retaking the crucial border crossings to Tunisia in western Libya. Gadhafi's inner circle is crumbling around him. Following a string of high-profile ministerial defections, 10 senior military officers recently left the regime, sending the clear signal that Gadhafi can no longer count on his military. Those who care for Libya have already deserted him.

I visited Benghazi two weeks ago to meet the key figures in the opposition National Transitional Council. During my visit I saw a different Libya from the one oppressed for years by Gadhafi. I saw an alternative vision of an open, plural and democratic Libya that draws on the wealth of the country's natural resources and strength of her people. I saw a flourishing civil society born out of a desire for a better future. I heard calls and witnessed an earnest ambition for Libyans to secure across the whole of their country a new way of life free from the tyranny of secret police, bunk political philosophy and a state-directed economy. I detected the deep-seated yearning for these changes that we are seeing expressed across the Arab world, from Syria to Yemen and beyond. I saw that same Arab Spring spirit in Libya.

This spirit must not be stifled. We must intensify our efforts to ensure that it can be achieved by all Libyans. But to get there, the Transitional Council and the Libyan people require international support. They require funding to meet basic needs. Gadhafi's state-directed economy siphoned the profits of Libya's economy into private offshore accounts now frozen by the U.N. Security Council's sanctions. The security situation in the country means that the opposition cannot yet pump oil to get a sustainable stream of revenue flowing. I urge all those who want to see change in Libya to contribute to the temporary fund announced last week at the Contact Group in Abu Dhabi.

As Gadhafi's regime fractures we need to continue to crank up the pressure—militarily, economically and diplomatically. Each state and international organization brings different strengths to the campaign. NATO's role continues to be central. It is the only organization with the will and the military capacity to act. But the NATO mission would not be possible without the unique military assets and political weight that the United States has brought to bear. From the start, the U.K. has taken a leading role in both the military and diplomatic campaigns in Libya. We have now added Apache attack helicopters to the list of capabilities at NATO's disposal. The U.K. will continue to carry its weight militarily, as well as in leading diplomatic efforts through the Libya Contact Group, and by providing non-lethal material support to the opposition. We must all keep up the pressure and maintain our resolve to bring about the Libya that its people want and deserve.

Mr. Hague is the U.K. Foreign Secretary.