Libya Live Blog – March 24
As the uprising in Libya continues, we update you with the latest developments from our correspondents, news agencies and citizens across the globe.
Loud blast heard in Libyan capital – residents
TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – A loud explosion was heard in the Libyan capital Tripoli early on Thursday and smoke could be seen rising from an area where a military base is situated, residents said. “We heard another explosion just now. We see smoke rising. There are people on rooftops. It seems to be in a military area near the engineering college (in the Tajoura area),” said one resident, declining to be named.
Gaddafi tanks at entrances to city of Ajdabiyah
TRIPOLI, March 23 (Reuters) – Government tanks loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were positioned at the eastern and western entrances of the city of Ajdabiyah, Arabiya television reported on Wednesday.
Doctor says Libyan tanks nearing Misrata hospital
BEIRUT, March 23 (Reuters) – A doctor in the rebel-held city of Misrata in Libya said on Wednesday government forces were closing in on the hospital where locals had described difficult conditions in recent days. “Government tanks are closing in on Misrata hospital and shelling the area,” said the doctor who was briefly reached by phone before the line was cut off.
Gaddafi snipers kill 16 people in Misrata-rebels
BENGHAZI, March 23 (Reuters) – Snipers from Muammar Gaddafi’s forces killed 16 people in the Libyan town of Misrata on Wednesday, Hafiz Ghoga, the official spokesman for the rebel national council said. Ghoga also told a news conference in Benghazi that six people were killed in a bombardment by Gaddafi forces at the eastern entrance to the town of Zintan, another town in west Libya.
Gadhafi’s forces carry out massacre in Misrata
TRIPOLI: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces resumed their attack on the rebel-held town of Misrata Wednesday, moving back onto the offensive just hours after Western strikes silenced their guns.
Libya denies cutting off supplies to Misrata
TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – Libya denied allegations on Thursday that it had cut off water and electricity supplies to the rebel-held city of Misrata. “We heard those rumours that the government has intentionally cut off supplies,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim. “It’s just a technical problem because of damage and looting.” Misrata residents say it is under attack by government forces who have severed their basic supplies and effectively besieged the last major rebel holdout in western Libya.
Libyan troops target rebels after air force ‘destroyed’
NEAR AJDABIYA, Libya – Libyan forces hammered rebel cities on Wednesday with tank fire forcing civilians to flee as a top British officer said Moamer Kadhafi’s air force had been almost obliterated. At the end of a day of bitter fighting in key rebel strongholds, forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi pounded a hospital in the western city of Misrata, a rebel spokesman said.
Muammar Gaddafi makes first appearance since air strikes began
“We will not surrender,” he said. “We will defeat them by any means … We are ready for the fight, whether it will be a short or a long one … We will be victorious in the end,” he said in comments carried live by state television.
Charred corpses after Western strikes on Tripoli
TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – Eighteen Libyans killed by what officials say were Western air strikes and missile attacks in the capital Tripoli lay in a hospital morgue, some charred beyond recognition. Reuters journalists given access to the morgue on Thursday saw the corpses of adult males on metal beds beneath green and white sheets. It was the first time foreign reporters in Tripoli were shown the bodies of alleged victims of the Western strikes. The journalists were not shown bodies of women or children. “They are civilians. They are not guilty of anything,” said morgue worker Abdel Salaam.
Libyan warplane shot down by French -ABC report
WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) – A French fighter jet shot down a Libyan warplane violating the no-fly zone over the country, ABC News said on Thursday. ABC reported the incident on its website. Reuters was seeking to confirm the report.
Airstrikes fail to deter Gaddafi forces
Residents say forces loyal to the Libyan leader shell area near Misurata hospital as explosions are heard in Tripoli.
Gaddafi compound under air strike – TV report
BERLIN, March 23 (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Ajdabiyah was subject to air strikes, Arabiya TV reported on Wednesday.
‘Civilians spared’ by Libya raids
The US chief of staff for the mission in Libya insists there have been no reports of civilian casualties caused by allied action.
Libya rebels coordinating with West on air assault
Leaders of the opposition national council, in Benghazi and in Europe, are helping allied commanders identify targets for strikes. Allied officials walk a fine line as the U.N. mandate bars them from actively helping the rebels in their goal to oust Moammar Kadafi. Leaders of the opposition national council in rebel-controlled eastern Libya say they are making regular, secure contacts with allied military representatives in Europe to help commanders identify targets for the U.S.-led air assault.
Allies Pressuring Qaddafi Forces Around Rebel Cities
The United States military said it was stepping up attacks on units loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi that are besieging rebel-held cities.
U.S. finds no organized Al Qaeda presence in Libya opposition, officials say
Eastern Libya, the rebels’ base, has a history as a breeding ground for Islamic militants, but an intelligence-gathering effort has not uncovered a significant number of extremists, officials say. Despite fears that Islamic extremists may be playing a hidden role in the rebellion against Moammar Kadafi, the U.S. intelligence community has found no organized presence of Al Qaeda or its allies among the Libyan opposition, American officials say.
U.S. Gates says up to Libyans to settle own fate
CAIRO, March 23 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday it was ultimately up to Libyans to settle matters in their country, where rebels are fighting an insurgency against Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule. “It seems to me that if there is a mediation to be done, if there is a role to be played, it is among the Libyans themselves. This matter at the end of the day is going to have to be settled by Libyans. It’s their country,” Gates told reporters during a visit to Cairo. Gates said he was unsure if there would be any value in trying to bring the rebels and Gaddafi together for talks.
Libya coalition steering group open to all-French source
PARIS, March 23 (Reuters) – A planned steering group of countries backing the military intervention in Libya will be open to all nations that want to join and could be set up in a matter of days, a French presidential source said on Wednesday. “The idea is to also invite countries who weren’t at the summit on Saturday who are interested in being involved,” the source said. “We need to have a place where all those who want to commit to help Libyans build a future and discuss the political framework.”
Libya rebels name US-based academic as finance chief
BENGAHZI, Libya, March 23 (Reuters) – The Libyan rebel national council on Wednesday named U.S. based academic Ali Tarhouni as the top financial official in a transitional government they are in the process of setting up. Tarhouni will head the financial and commercial committee, in effect acting as finance minister, spokeswoman Iman Bughaeus told reporters. Tarhouni has a doctorate in economics and finance from Michigan State University and teaches at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, Seattle. “He understands the Western mentality,” she said. Tarhouni has been a member of the Libyan opposition for 40 years while living in the United States.
Libyan rebels meet UN official as Gaddafi attacks anew
The United Nations envoy to Libya met Tuesday for the first time with leaders of rebel forces fighting Moamer Gaddafi’s brigades, as a number of western rebel-held cities came under attack.
Message from youth in Tajura (Tripoli) March 23
A message to all Libyans in all cities. Tajura (Tripoli District) today is rising up against Gaddafi. Take note of this, today we have risen up. In the next few days Allah Willing you will hear about Tajura being liberated from Gaddafi the dog and his criminal forces. Gaddafi’s battalions have been hit by airstrikes in Tajura, all of his six battalions in Tajura. Right now our youth are attacking Gaddafi’s forces and until now we have not lost any of our people, and all the losses are on Gaddafi’s side Alhamdulillah. And by the Will of Allah, we will achieve victory. Please make Dua for us.
U.N. says wants to negotiate Libya aid “corridors”
The United Nations wants to negotiate “humanitarian corridors” to let more aid into Libya where fighting in the east of the country has uprooted tens of thousands and hit food supplies, the U.N. said on Wednesday.
POLL-In US poll, 60 percent back Libya military action
* 48 percent see Obama military leadership as “cautious”
* Reuters/Ipsos poll taken 3 days after Libya strikes
* Just 17 percent call his military leadership “strong”
* 79 percent of Americans think Gaddafi should be removed
Three journalists freed in Libya
RABAT, March 23 (Reuters) – Two AFP journalists and a photographer arrested in Libya last week were released in Tripoli, the agency said on Wednesday. Al Jazeera television also said authorities would release its reporting crew within 24 hours. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, journalists have suffered 60 attacks in Libya since last month, resulting in two dead and 36 detentions. Libyan government forces arrested AFP reporters Dave Clark, Roberto Schmidt and Getty Images photographer Joe Raedle on Saturday near the eastern town of Ajdabiyah.
Libya: Free Detained Journalists
(New York) – The Libyan government should release all Libyan and foreign journalists detained because of their reporting and allow them to cover the crisis in Libya freely, Human Rights Watch said today.
Libya-headed Palestinian doctors wait Egypt’s approval to pass
A delegation of 20 Palestinian doctors and nurses prepare to leave the Gaza Strip for Libya to join Arab medics there, Palestinian Nursing Association said Thursday. Yousef Fahjjan, the secretary of the association, urged Egypt to let the medical mission leave Gaza through its territories. “We are still waiting for the Egyptian authorities’ approval,” he told Xinhua. The Palestinian doctors will be based on Egypt-Libya borders ” to help receive the wounded,” Fahjjan said. Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since Islamic Hamas movement took over the coastal enclave in 2007. Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt has been the only gate for Gazans to the world since then. However, the crossing is open only for urgent medical cases, visa holders as well as university students and nationals of other countries.
Prison of Terror, Nafissa Assed
On the 17th of March I headed to the airport, leaving Tripoli for safety reasons. The internet has been cut off in Libya since 3rd March, phone lines are very bad in all the cities, and some cities are totally isolated (no phone lines, no water, no electricity) – like Zawiya, Misurata, and now Benghazi’s too. God only knows what is coming next. After we lost the internet, Tripoli became a prison of terror. Qaddafi’s thugs are celebrating all the time, and every day gunfire starts and stops all of a sudden, at any second. Out of a complete silence, we see cars passing by our building playing very loud music, songs for Qaddafi. At other times (usually between 2 and 4 am) we hear gunfire that gradually increases, with no celebrations or cars chanting his name around the streets.
Many rural Libyans look to Kadafi
Libya leader Moammar Kadafi’s populist largess doled out disproportionately to rural people has won the loyalty of large swaths of citizens. And the countryside shows the signs of his attention to it. The gift for his family’s loyalty, service and sacrifice was an AK-47 assault rifle.
Muqtedar Khan: In Defense of Intervention in Libya
Yes, we cannot afford another war, and it may bankrupt us financially. But ignoring crimes against humanity will bankrupt us morally.
Obama’s Next Step in Libya?, George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C.
One wonders whether the hesitance of Barack Obama to go all out against Libya’s brutal dictator, Moammar Qaddafi, may be attributable to his fear that this may turn out as a repeat performance of what happened to the first American military intervention overseas along ‘the shores of Tripoli’ more than 200 years ago. Although this episode at the beginning of the so-called Barbary War, is now memorable, many militarists or historians do not see the first battle as glorious since the pirates, then the scourge of the Mediterranean, took over the American frigate that brought them over.
“Joint Statement of 58 Communist and Workers’ Parties against Imperialist Aggression in Libya”
The imperialist killers headed by the USA, France, Britain and NATO as a whole and with the approval of the UN started a new imperialist war. This time in Libya. Their allegedly humanitarian pretexts are completely misleading! They throw dust into peoples’ eyes! Their real goals are the hydrocarbons in Libya.
Israeli Press: Keep Gaddafi in power
Op-ed: Saddam example showed West that Arab states may be worse off after tyrants’ removal. It’s not as tough I like this man or have some kind of emotional connection to him and therefore wish to spare him. I only wish to spare his oppressed citizens. I do like his dresses and sense of fashion; the man would fit in well with Tel Aviv’s nightlife scene. Indeed, the city was overrun by Gaddafis during Purim as a last gesture to the tyrant, highlighting his value as a cultural icon.
how we missed you, humanitarian intervention, Max Ajl
With the mealy-mouthed support of the Arab League and soon-to-be-repentant sectors of the Arab left, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the creation of a free-fire zone in Qaddafi-controlled quadrants of Libya. NATO warplanes are already alight. Qaddafi’s air-defenses are reportedly being taken out, while a column of tanks manned by working-class soldiers – Qadaffi’s murderous mercenaries, in the cant of Western journalists and bamboozled Arab leftists – has been left smoldering on the road to Benghazi. Boom! We forget so quickly that the soldiers of Arab armies are made up of young Arab men, and when we bomb an army we kill its constituent molecules: in this case, human beings. (Already, Special Forces in an Osprey riddled a bunch of villagers with bullets. Freedom is never free, right?)
Bongani Masuku, “COSATU Supports Democracy, But Condemns Foreign Military Occupation in Libya”
In their own imagination, military occupation can deliver democracy to the masses. Is it not the same doctrine that failed in Iraq before, Afghanistan recently and is it not inevitably bound to fail in Libya? This can be best described as helicopter democracy, which disempowers the masses in whose name the struggle for democracy is waged and renders them spectators as foreign powers arrogate themselves the role of liberators, in the process, relegating the masses and their role in their own struggle. It is very clear that the UN resolution fitted into a well designed scheme by the big powers that was deliberately set to ensure military occupation and regional reconfiguration to further assert imperialist domination and neo-liberal economic orthodoxy in the interest of profiteering at all costs for their giant oil companies. It was further meant to ensure stage-managed “regime change” which sought to impose regimes that would best service their interests as was the case with Hosni Mubarak for a long time. International solidarity does not mean foreign occupation or undermining the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of any country and peoples, but supporting the struggling masses to defeat an oppressor through their own struggle.
There’s nothing moral about Nato’s intervention in Libya | Seumas Milne
The attacks on Libya risk a bloody stalemate and are a threat to the region. The alternative has to be a negotiated settlement. It’s as if it’s a habit they can’t kick. Once again US, British and other Nato forces are bombarding an Arab country with cruise missiles and bunker-busting bombs. Both David Cameron and Barack Obama insist this is nothing like Iraq. There will be no occupation. The attack is solely to protect civilians.
The consensus on intervention in Libya has shattered | Simon Tisdall
Russia and China have called for a ceasefire in Libya. Now South Africa and India have joined in the outrage over the scale of the attacks. Britain and France are facing a rising torrent of international criticism over military intervention in Libya, with Russia and China leading calls for an immediate ceasefire. Just as a majority of Britons distrusts their government’s motives, according to a new YouGov poll, many, if not most, countries around the world also view the action as risky, self-interested, and duplicitous.
Bahrain: Investigate Shooting, Arrest of Man Caught Up in Police Sweep
(Manama) – Bahraini authorities should immediately investigate the shooting of a 32-year-old man caught up in a police sweep on March 19, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately reveal his whereabouts and condition and hold those responsible for his attack accountable, Human Rights Watch said.
Obscene Sectarianism: Bahrain airlines stop Lebanon, Iran, Iraq flights (AFP)
AFP – Bahrain’s two carriers said Wednesday they have suspended flights to Lebanon, after a halt in services to Iran and Iraq, where Shiite communities have also slammed the kingdom’s handling of protests.
Obscene Sectarianism: Gulf states ‘to deport Hezbollah, Iranian agents’ (AFP)
AFP – Arab states in the Gulf plan to deport thousands of Lebanese Shiites over their alleged links to Hezbollah and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard force, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Thursday.
Bahrain: Armed Thugs Intimidate Protesters, Journalists (Time.com)
Time.com – The opposition accuses the government of hiring civilian thugs to intimidate protesters and foreign journalists.
30 hurt in Bahrain crackdown, some face probe: government (Reuters)
Reuters – Thirty people were wounded in Bahrain’s crackdown on protesters last week, including 22 who are facing investigation over their role and five who are in a critical condition, the government said on Wednesday.
EU envoy defends Bahrain police
A top EU diplomat says police in Bahrain, accused of human rights abuses, have had a tough task and during unrest “accidents happen”.
Bahraini activists plan Day of Rage on Friday
MANAMA, March 23 (Reuters) – Bahraini opposition activists are planning to hold a day of demonstrations throughout the tiny island country on Friday, in defiance of a ban on all public gatherings under martial law declared last week. It was not clear which groups were behind the marches, plans of which were circulated by email and Internet. They did not appear to involve the mainstream Shi’ite Muslim opposition group Wefaq, nor the Feb. 14 Youth Movement which led protests at Pearl roundabout that were dispersed by riot police a week ago.
Yemen: Emergency Law Does Not Trump Basic Rights
(New York) – Yemen’s new emergency law does not override the government’s obligation to respect fundamental human rights under international law, Human Rights Watch said today.
Pro-Saleh forces clash with Yemen army units
Forces loyal to the Yemeni president have clashed with regular army troops in the eastern town of Mukalla.
Yemeni president offers early elections
Saleh offers parliamenatry and presidential polls before the end of this year in bid to appease protesters.
Yemeni protesters call for march on palace
Opposition groups vow to oust Ali Abdullah Saleh from power as parliament approves emergency laws after weeks of unrest.
UK embassy team pull out of Yemen
Britain is temporarily withdrawing part of its embassy team from Yemen due to ongoing violence in the country, the Foreign Office says.
Yemen says Al-Jazeera shut for ‘false’ footage (AFP)
AFP – Yemen said on Thursday it evicted Al-Jazeera, which gives extensive coverage of Arab revolts, after it said footage of torture in an Iraqi jail was broadcast as having been filmed in the Arabian peninsula state.
Riyadh will decide the fate of Ali Abdullah Saleh – and of Yemen | Ginny Hill
The outcome of army and ministerial defections will reflect the internal politics of Yemen’s patron, the House of Saud. Passion for change in the Arab world is spreading to Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh has dominated national life for more than three decades. More than 75% of the population was born after he came to power in 1978. He was once a skilful manipulator, but now the political tide has turned against him. His latest offer, to stand down at the end of the year, comes too late to appease either his political enemies or the Yemeni people. Saleh is on his way out. The only questions now are the timing and the manner of his departure.
Other Middle East
Anger in Syria over crackdown
Around 20,000 people chanting freedom slogans march in funerals for protesters killed by security forces.
Moroccan FM: Obama needs to “adjust” his Middle East approach
Two years after President Barack Obama‘s famous speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, it’s time for him to rethink and adjust his approach to the region, according to the foreign minister of Morocco.Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri, who is touring Washington this week, met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday afternoon. He sat down with The Cable for an exclusive interview on Thursday afternoon, following a speech at the Brookings Institution. Fihri said that Obama should revise his strategy for dealing with the Arab world in light of the dramatic events sweeping the region.
Jordan aims to avoid unrest with dialogue on sweeping reforms
There is an ever-present worry in Jordan that, if dialogue fails now, a public that has so far asked only for reform of the regime could start thinking of revolution.
The Alternative Opposition in Jordan and the Failure to Understand the Lessons of the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions
In Jordan, no one seems to have learned from the lessons of Tunisia and Egypt. Especially not the “opposition,” which can be divided into the “official” opposition and the “alternative” opposition.
Bouazizi’s mom remembers him with pride
TUNIS: The mother of Mohammad Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit seller whose desperate protest has shaken strong-arm regimes across the Arab world, says she will stop her grieving because of the success of the revolution he inspired. Manoubiyeh Bouazizi, clad in black, still fights to hold back tears more than two months after the death of her son from gruesome burns.
Children of the revolution
Youngsters from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya share their experiences.
Preliminary Historical Observations on the Arab Revolutions of 2011
Towards the end of his long, eventful life, in 1402, the renowned Arab historian Ibn Khaldun was in Damascus. He left us a description of Taymur’s siege of the city and of his meeting with the world conqueror. None of us is Ibn Khaldun, but any Arab historian today watching the Arab revolutions of 2011 has the sense of awe that our forbear must have had as we witness a great turning in world affairs.
The road from Sidi Bouzid to Algiers
The profound disillusionment of Algerians makes following in Tunisia’s footsteps difficult, but activists believe change will come.