Sunday, August 21, 2011

Col. Qaddafi says he's going nowhere (8x UPDATED)

8th UPDATE: 6:01 p.m. EDT: For what this is worth: Remember when CNN led the world (so to speak) in covering Iraq 20 years ago? Now, it's al Jazeera. It appears at least one U.S. cable net is defending its absence of wall-to-wall coverage because it can't get a reporter safely onto the streets! And SkyNews and al Jazeera can?

If you think about the media environment from 20 years ago -- no Internet (as we know it), no smartphones, no Facebook, etc, -- the point is that CNN ought to be able to do even more in its world reporting than it was able to do then. Instead, it is allowing another news agency to dominate the international coverage.

7th UPDATE: 5:43 p.m. EDT: Al Jazeera also reports that Qaddafi's presidential guard -- his most elite troops -- have surrendered (and it appears without any kind of fight).

As Qaddafi sees his base crumble, one is left to wonder how the final moments of his reign will play out. The Transitional National Council has maintained that it is interested in capturing Qaddafi and put him on trial. (Of course, he would not be the only one, but he is the most important person.) However, Qaddafi could deny that either by killing himself or by being shot by someone else.

And perhaps that already has happened. The WestWingReport has sent out the following tweet: U.S. govt. source: "cannot confirm" reports that 's Qadhafi is dead.

6th UPDATE: 5:32 p.m. EDT: Al Jazeera is airing live video from Benghazi, which has been the rebels' stronghold for several weeks. There, what appears to be a raucous rally is taking place; those involved appear confident that the downfall of Qaddafi is imminent.

5th UPDATE: 5:29 p.m. EDT: A Libyan government spokesman adds that Col. Qaddafi is prepared to talk to the rebels, but he adds that NATO must suspend its attack on Libya.

4th UPDATE: 5:24 p.m. EDT: Reuters is one of many news organizations reporting that rebels have captured one of Qaddafi's sons.
Libya's rebels have captured Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif Al-Islam, the head of the rebel National Transitional Council told Al Jazeera television on Sunday. "We have confirmed information that our guys have captured Saif Al-Islam," Mustapha Abd El Jalil said. "We have given instructions to treat him well so that he can face trial."
Meanwhile, a Libyan government spokesman says NATO will be held legally and morally responsible for the deaths it has caused over the past 24-48 hours in Tripoli.

3rd UPDATE: 4:38 p.m. EDT: Multiple news agencies report that rebel forces have reached the center of Tripoli -- an area referred to as Tripoli Square -- and have faced no resistance.

2nd UPDATE: 4:11 p.m. EDT: You'll easily find stories examining what a post-Qaddafi Libya might look like. The Wall Street Journal provides one such perspective.
Though some within the rebel ranks would like to see all vestiges of Gadhafi's regime swept aside, leaders of the National Transitional Council in Benghazi are more pragmatic and are already working to prevent a security vaccuum. Their blueprint for a post-Gadhafi Libya, which was leaked to the Times of London this month, shows that the council has quietly recruited some 800 regime security officials, who are ready to form the backbone of a new government-security apparatus once Gadhafi falls. Likewise, the council plans to transfer some 5,000 policemen serving in units not ideologically committed to Gadhafi to the new government's forces. Many other regime figures, exhausted and frightened, aren't even seeking to hang on to power, but only want safety for themselves and their families.
1st UPDATE: 2:13 p.m. EDT: The Associated Press reports that the rebels continue to push into Tripoli and are meeting with no resistance. 

Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they reached the Tripoli suburb of Janzour around nightfall Sunday. They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags.

Hours earlier, the same rebel force of hundreds drove out elite forces led by Moammar Gadhafi's son in a brief gunbattle. The fighters hauled off truckloads of weapons and advanced full speed toward the capital.

Inside Tripoli, there was a second day of widespread clashes between what the opposition called "sleeping cells" of rebels who are rising up and Gadhafi loyalists.

ORIGINAL POST: The rhetoric suggests a man still committed to defiance, but the reality appears to be something else.

The BBC World Service reported just after 1:00 p.m. (U.S. EDT) that Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi spoke on state radio earlier today and insisted that he will not leave the country despite the consistent advance of the rebels.

Nevertheless, "the government is losing its grip on power," a BBC reporter in Tripoli said. But he added that whatever government might come next might not necessarily be fully in line with the West.

The Washington Post noted the successes of the rebels today.
As they advanced, the rebels captured a major military base that is home to the Khamis Brigade, an elite force led by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s son, Khamis.
Celebrating rebels seized weapons from the base. Two fighters carried boxes of brand-new Belgian munitions, as others zipped by in trucks filled with other ammunition they had taken from the base.
Reports from Tripoli were sketchy and impossible to confirm because journalists were confined to their hotel, and cell phone contact was cut off in many areas, making it hard for residents to know exactly what was happening in other areas.
But two rebel organizers contacted by telephone in the capital said Gaddafi opponents had secured control of at least five neighborhoods, including Souq al-Jumaa, Tajaura, Fashloum, Arada and Zawiyat al-Dahmani.

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