The Libyan Revolution: truth and lies

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis used to have an ethos: the bigger the lie the more likelihood that people will believe what you are saying. And so it is with regime in Libya. Gaddafi says that his people love him, that all is calm, that the protesters are a small group of thugs and are being given hallucinatory pills by al Qaeda, etc, etc (this kind of rubbish is broadcast continuously by the state controlled media in Libya). This evening, Khaled al-Koaem, the Libyan deputy foreign minister, has been giving a press conference. Amongst other things he said that troops loyal to Gaddafi have captured more than 1,500 rebel fighters

“And what you can tell from the way they dress – the beard, the turban, the trousers – for us it’s clear, they are really part of al-Qaeda. Some of them I’m sure are not al-Qaeda members. But the core of these attacks are the al-Qaeda elements.”

This morning, on the BBC’s Have Your Say, a woman wrote:

“Although we are no longer in Libya, we are in phone contact with friends in Tripoli… Since the first Tripoli uprising, the night of 21 February, most of the population have been trapped in their houses… One friend has recently told us that the families of the dead protesters are too afraid to take the bodies to the cemetery, so they are burying them in their gardens, or keeping them in their apartments with air con on very cold to try to preserve them. These are their dead sons, brothers, husbands, fathers. Everybody we speak to in Tripoli say they are absolutely terrified of Gaddafi’s forces.”

In the early hours of last Sunday morning, in Tripoli, there was the sound of heavy gunfire. Most independent observers said that it sounded like some kind of battle was going on. The Gaddafi regime said that it was celebratory gunfire, by way of recent victories the government had over the rebels. The regime hastily organised a pro-Gaddafi rally to try and prove their point. This is Al Jazeera’s report on that rally…

At the same time that the above pro-Gaddafi rally was taking place, there were fierce battles raging for the town of Zawiyah, which is about 30 miles from Tripoli. Earlier this week, a Sky News correspondent, Alex Crawford, who was in Zawiyah for 3 days, filed a report about the battle there. It should be noted that most of the protesters are unarmed, and with incredible bravery they are fighting heavily armed forces of the regime (warning: this video contains scenes of graphic violence)…

Gaddafi’s regime are butchering their own people, and thus far the rest of the world has not done much to try and prevent the slaughter (although today the French have recognised the rebel National Council as the legitimate government of Libya, and French president Nicolas Sarkozy is apparently going to propose “targeted air strikes” against the Gaddafi regime). In fact today, General James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, advised President Obama that Gaddafi will beat the rebels (well, that’s good, because it might mean that the ‘mericans keep out of it), although it should be said that US ‘Intelligence’ did not see these uprisings coming, and General Clapper has made serious misjudgements in the past; so much so that many on Capitol Hill are calling for his resignation.

So, are the Libyan rebels on the way out..? Of course not: Gaddafi and his regime are almost universally hated in Libya, and after the recent brutal killings even more so. In many instances the rebels retreat to avoid civilian casualties (Gaddafi’s mobsters take civilian hostages and use them as human shields), in other instances Gaddafi’s limited air power makes them retreat. There’s military tactics involved as well. Also, it should be realised that this did not start as an armed uprising – and even now many of the rebels do not have arms. It’s only been three weeks since the Libyan revolution started. It takes much longer than that to organise a liberation army from scratch. The hatred that just about all Libyans have for Gaddafi’s regime means that its days are numbered.

But what sort of message does Gaddafi’s actions send? Worryingly, the BBC is reporting this evening that at a meeting in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, six Gulf Arab states from the Gulf Co-operation Council vow in a statement to deal “decisively and immediately, without hesitation” against any threat to the security of any of the oil-rich monarchies, where calls for democracy have been mounting.

Tomorrow, after Friday prayers, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Saudi Arabia’s Day of Rage

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