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Libyan Open Thread: The Siege of Az Zawiyah

As the mainstream media, like other traditional organisations, struggles to place Libya into acceptable, familiar narratives the actual events emerging renew the dramatic, populist story of the courage and determination of people aroused by the taste of freedom.

Overnight Az Zawiyah, in opposition hands and surrounded on all sides, has endured a concerted attack by forces loyal to the Qaddaffis including the ‘elite’ security battalions of the regime:

TRIPOLI, March 4 (Reuters) – Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Friday fought their way into Zawiyah, a town near the capital that has for days defied his rule, killing a rebel commander and pinning fighters into pockets of resistance.

At least 30 civilians were killed in the clashes, residents said by telephone. An improvised force of rebels was pushed back to the central square in Zawiyah, about 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital Tripoli, a rebel spokesman said.

“We are under siege, we are surrounded from the east, west and south, only the north is open because it opens to the sea,” Ali, a resident, told Reuters by phone. “Electricity has been cut, we are in the dark … Maybe they are planning an attack.”

Maria Golovnina – UPDATE 3-Gaddafi forces fight to seize rebel Zawiyah Reuters 5 Mar 11

It is 3:50AM in Az Zawiyah now and only daylight will reveal the outcome.

At the moment even the Libyan state television is hedging their bets after earlier reporting the city as retaken:

“Now it’s quiet. The number of dead people, nobody can say, they took away the bodies,” rebel spokesman Youssef Shagan told Reuters by phone. “One doctor told me they were shooting inside the hospital. Government troops are all around the city. I just came back from the square, our people are still there.”

Shagan earlier said many people had been killed in the small town of Harsha, just outside Zawiyah, including rebel commander Hussein Darbruk. “We have appointed a new one.”

Maria Golovnina – UPDATE 3-Gaddafi forces fight to seize rebel Zawiyah Reuters 5 Mar 11

History is unfolding before our eyes for the people and the evolution of what Juan Cole is now calling the “Great Middle Eastern revolt of 2011.”  Just now Al Jazeera English is reporting the area is still under rebel control.  Perhaps a “rockets red glare” moment for the revolution:

@LibyaInMe: Let’s remember these days.The day will come when our children will take pride in every moment we lived making history.#libya #feb17 #gaddafi

Significantly the strategic oil refinery town of Ra’s Lanuf fell to the opposition today, who scattered the loyalist Saadi Brigade in tense fighting by small units of uncoordinated but well armed and enthusiastic volunteers who have been moving forward from their successful action yesterday at Mersa Brega as well as hanging on to Az Zawiyah against all apparent odds:

By mid-afternoon, state television claimed [Az Zawiyah] had fallen to government forces, but that was later retracted. Rebels admitted they were fighting with their backs to the wall but said they were not giving up.

“There has been fighting here all day,” said one man by telephone. “We are in a very difficult position. They have snipers and have used mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.”

Both sides said there had been an unknown number of casualties, with at least 15 dead but probably more. “I visited the hospital and mosque. I think there have been 25 to 30 people killed but it may be more,” said the rebel.

In the east of the country, loyalists lost further ground. Opposition forces appeared to have captured the outskirts of Ras Lanuf, an oil town, last night, bringing the uprising to within 150 miles of Sirte, the Libyan leader’s birthplace.

James Kirkup and Richard Spencer – Libya: British Army ready for mission at 24 hours’ notice Telegraph 4 Mar 11

There are rumours now that the next objective of Sirte, considered a Qaddafi stronghold, has a wavering army presence and the massacre of disloyal local army tribesmen by the Qaddafi forces could turn the residents to the revolt.  If Sirte fell the free city of Misurata would be directly linked by the coast highway to the heart of the revolution in Benghazi.  

Tweets emerging from Libya overnight have been moving, desperate and emotional:

@alphaleah: BREAKING REPORT: RT @hamzamu another call from #zawiya :”He is burning us down!” “He is killing us all!” #libya #feb17 PLEASE RETWEET!

The narrative of stalemate which seems the favourite of the mainstream media at the moment, however, fails to capture the reality of the aspiration and determination emerging from the front lines of this extraordinary conflict.  


  1. Shaun Appleby

    An appropriate response:

    WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011 – Two U.S. military aircraft will deliver humanitarian supplies to Tunisia today and return tomorrow to transport Egyptian refugees from Libya, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters today.

    The C-130s out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, will deliver six pallets of aid supplies, including 4,000 blankets, 40 rolls of plastic sheeting, and 9,600 10-liter water containers to Djerba, Tunisia, according to Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan.

    “Those two aircraft stopped in Italy, where they picked up humanitarian assistance [supplies] from the USAID … warehouse,” Lapan said.

    The planes will return to Tunisia tomorrow to relocate Egyptian refugees back to Egypt, he said.

    Karen Parrish – U.S. Military Aircraft to Deliver Libya-related Aid AFPS 4 Mar 11

    Looks like we finally settled on a strategy that provides engagement without controversy.

  2. Shaun Appleby

    By Al Jazeera English with Saif al-Islam:

    Anita McNaught makes Christiane Amanpur seem like a complete amateur, I got to say.

  3. HappyinVT

    Richardson favors a no-fly zone and seems to think Italy, the Arab League and/or NATO should be involved.  Zakaria doesn’t think those entities are ready, willing or able to be effective.  That would mean a unilateral or semi-unilateral US role in the Middle East which Zakaria says would be a really bad idea.  I believe most of us here would agree.  Richardson also thought arming the opposition was a good idea.  I am so not thrilled with this; we seem to have a bad track record of arming the wrong people.  But watching what’s going on today it’s hard not to want to help them militarily because Gaddafi will kill as many as he has to.

  4. Shaun Appleby

    But I disagree with this:

    6:03am Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Al Geila, says the pro-Gaddafi forces are beginning to have the upper hand in the tense standoff.

    Armed opposition fighters have little or no military experience or discipline, she reports, and the “rag-tag bunch” have cobbled together limited resources, weaponry and ammunition – including some Soviet-era anti-aircraft guns.

    Live Blog – Libya March 5 AJE 5 Mar 11

    El Agheila (extreme left on the map showing Afrika defence line in 1941) is well known to military historians as one of the few key choke points on the North African coast which cannot be outflanked by mobile forces from the south (the other is El Alamein):

    El Agheila is a small town on the southern coast of the Gulf of Sidra, south of Benghazi, in Libya. It comprises a thin strip of firm ground between the sea and extensive salt marshes forming a natural bottleneck and so during the North African campaign in the Second World War was of strategic importance to both sides.

    El Agheila Probert Encylopedia

    Furthermore the opposition has moved almost 70km in two days to reach this position.  Not saying the opposition had this in mind but still, Jacky Rowland doesn’t even consider it.  If this were the place they chose to take successfully and regroup in their eastward advance it would be strategically very sensible.  The willing historical and geopolitical ignorance of most journalists is stunning to behold and AJE is apparently no exception.

  5. Shaun Appleby

    From AJE:

    As the sun rises, however, [Az Zawiyah] remains in the hands of the opposition.

  6. Shaun Appleby

    “Give me liberty or give me death” –Patrick Henry, Virginia, 1775 “We do not surrender. We win or we die.” –Anon, Azawiya, 2011 #Libya

    @iyad_elbaghdadi Twitter

    If half of what I’ve heard in the last four hours from Az Aziwayah is true, and I have no doubt it is, the Libyans have earned themselves a truly honourable and lasting tradition.  If I were a Qaddafi I would be starting to have some serious doubts about the outcome.

  7. Shaun Appleby

    For spamming the live-blog while you guys are sleeping but this is one of those moments which may warrant it:

    11:06am Dr Hamdi, a surgeon in Az Zawiyah hospital, is on the phone with Al Jazeera. He tells us of the scene around him:    

       I am at the centre of Martyrs’ Square. A large number of people are gathering in the centre, after they managed to push back Gaddafi’s forces, the tanks have been pushed out of the city.

       There have been a number of tanks – the security forces of Gaddafi came into the city with armoured vehicles and tanks and trucks carrying antiaircraft wepons.  We managed to capture two tanks, and a number of four-wheel drive military cars.

       I live in one of main roads of the city, but I couldn’t leave home, because a large number of Gaddafi security men were shooting at anyone who came out.

       I couldn’t go to the hospital. But when our courageous fighters pushed them back, I could get to the square and helped administer first aid.

       There are between 150-250 injured as of now.

       At this moment, there are no Gaddafi security forces in the city; they have all been pushed outside of the city. The revolutionaries have taken control and have pushed them to the outside of the city.

       There is news that the security forces are gathering and preparing for another attack; the revolutionaries are also preparing for another attack. About 10,000 revolutionaries are preparing for the attack, and they are all happy for what has been achieved so far today.

    Live Blog – Libya March 5 AJE 5 Mar 11

    What a scene; it is hard to imagine, frankly.  I hope that medical care is available somehow to these brave men and women.  It is hard to estimate what the ultimate casualty toll might be but one assumes it is considerable given the reported indiscriminate shelling and executions.  

    The outcome is still in doubt but I would hazard a guess that the revolution is in a pretty strong position after the events of this morning.

  8. Shaun Appleby

    On the Brega, Al Geila, Ra’s Lanuf actions of the last few days.  From the earliest days I was watching to see which side would make a lunge for the Al Geila strategic position as whichever force controls this has the option of outflanking their enemy in easy going in open desert to the south of the coast road, as Rommel demonstrated to the discomfort of the British time and again.  This was probably a far greater threat to the revolutionaries than the loyalists given their respective training, logistics and equipment.

    And sure enough the Qaddafi loyalists made a surprise lunge for Mersa Brega which is just to the east of the gap and would have established a significant threat to Benghazi and Tobruk.  And just as quickly the revolutionaries counter-attacked with all forces at their disposal to fight them back through the gap and take the westward gateway Ras Lanuf, with the oil refinery as an extra prize.

    The media has completely missed the point and interprets these as merely local gains and the lack of forward movement as a ‘stalemate’ but it is not; it is a strategic victory that any first-year West Point cadet would understand.  The revolutionaries have sealed the gap and focused the potential threat of the better equipped armoured formations of the loyalists at their force-in-being on a narrow frontage at the coast where their infantry anti-tank weapons and existing manpower can best protect their heartland.  Notice from the map that in 1942 it took five days for the unopposed NZ “left hook” through the desert at this location; an eternity in mobile warfare.

    That they would pause here and consolidate is not only understandable but wise so long as there are uncommitted mobile armoured columns still able to threaten their rear areas.  Either they have good leadership or are getting good advice from elsewhere.

  9. Shaun Appleby

    Another precinct heard from:

    1:40pm The inter-tribal fighting in Sirte was sparked by one tribe refusing to support Gaddafi’s fighters in Ras Lanuf yesterday, Al Jazeera Arabic reports. This has reportedly opened a political divide overnight in the city, which is home to 135,000 people – and which houses several government ministries.

    1:33pm Pro- and anti-Gaddafi tribes have clashed in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte – formerly reported as a stronghold of the de facto Libyan leader. More details to follow.

    Live Blog – Libya March 5 AJE 5 Mar 11

    Bad news for bad guys, Sirte is not only Qaddafi’s birthplace but is considered a firm tribal ally of the regime.  If Sirte falls the ring around Tripoli will be virtually complete leaving only Sabha out in the desert as a Qaddafi base elsewhere.

  10. Shaun Appleby

    News now of Azawiya sustaining another wave of #Gaddafi attacks as we speak. Some 20 tanks and 50 4×4’s. #Libya

    6 minutes ago

    It’s 2:00PM in Libya.

  11. HappyinVT

    Because he’s a failed (more than once) former presidential candidate?  Or he’s so gung-ho to get the US involved?  Or both.

    I don’t think people realize a no-fly zone isn’t going to happen overnight or be the nail in Gaddafi’s coffin, so to speak.

  12. Shaun Appleby

    Of all sources, reporting that the revolutionaries have taken Sirte:

    Latest reports say Libyan revolutionary forces and protesters, heading eastward from the west of the country, have captured Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirt.

    The city had been held by troops loyal to the embattled Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi since the revolution began more than two weeks ago but fell into the hand of protesters on Saturday.

    Opposition forces also say they have downed two helicopters belonging to the forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi near Ras Lanuf and Ben Jawad.

    Protesters capture Gaddafi hometown Press TV 5 Mar 11

    The “heading eastward from the west of the country” comment is interesting and may be a translation problem.  If they are referring to an incursion from Misurata that would be a surprise to all concerned.

  13. Shaun Appleby

    iyad_elbaghdadi: Live call from Azawiya on Aljazeera: Eerie silence now, expecting another wave of attacks this night. No electricity or internet. #Libya

    4 hours ago

    Libyan state TV claims they are in control but they’ve been wrong before.  Creepy though.

  14. Shaun Appleby

    The interim council in Benghazi has issued a proclamation that they are the only “legitimate representative of the Libyan people.”

    They are creating an opportunity for the international community to formally recognise them as the formal “government in being” for Libya and they have a reasonable case under the circumstances.  They claim to be anticipating recognition soon:

    11:56 The Libyan National Transitional Temporary Council has told Al Jazeera that it expects to be recognized by some countries soon. “There are official contacts with European and Arab (countries). Upon the release (later) today of a statement, some countries will announce their recognition,” ex-Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who heads the council, told the channel.

    This will be interesting and puts the international community on the spot to fish or cut bait.

  15. Shaun Appleby

    From Saudi Arabia, the real enigma of the winter of Arabic discontent:

    Reuters – Saudi Arabia warned potential protesters on Saturday that a ban on marches would be enforced, signaling the small protests by the Shi’ite minority in the oil-producing east would no longer be tolerated.

    “The kingdom’s regulations totally ban all sorts of demonstrations, marches, sit-ins,” the interior ministry said in a statement, adding security forces would stop all attempts to disrupt public order.

    Inspired by protests in other Arab countries there have been Shi’ite marches in the past few days in the east and unconfirmed activist reports of a small protest at a mosque in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Friday.

    Ulf Laessing – Saudi Arabia says won’t tolerate protests Reuters 5 Mar 11

    That’s going to work out really well.  No prizes guessing the strategy behind this move.

  16. Shaun Appleby

    From behind the great paywall of Murdoch:

    An SAS unit was being held by rebel forces in Libya…Libyan uprising began on February 15. The SAS’s intervention angered Libyan opposition…regime. According to Libyan sources, the SAS soldiers were taken by rebels to Benghazi…

    SAS seized by rebel Libyans Sunday Times Evil Babbling Newspeak Paywall 6 Mar 11

    Get your act together Rupert you are a misanthropic menace to society.  As evil as Mordor and yet uglier in person.

  17. HappyinVT

    Let me just say that as someone really interested in this that I appreciate what you’re doing.

    At the moment I’m stuck at work trying to get all the stuff done that I need to do before I take my unpaid vacation so I don’t come back to a clusterf*ck.  (Yeah, good luck with that.)

    You might not get a ton of comments but, I for one, am grateful you’re keeping us updated.  Hopefully, tomorrow I can spend more time here.

    (By the way, and completely waaaaay off-topic, Congratulations to the Big Ten Basketball champion Buckeyes.  Now they need to beat Wisconsin to avenge that loss last month.)

  18. Shaun Appleby

    From You Tube via Twitter:

    Tried to verify the weather at the moment in Sirte to authenticate this without much luck.

  19. Shaun Appleby

    At dawn.  Anita McNaught on AJE described the two police cars normally parked at the hotel screeching off.  Libyan official sources claim it is celebratory due to the fall of Zawiyah, Misurata and Ras Lanuf.

    Standing by…

  20. Shaun Appleby

    Out in the desert:

    9:34am Bashir Abudl Gadir, a rebel commander in east Libya, says that his forces had pushed westwards and now controlled the town of al-Nawfaliyah.

    The town of al-Nawfaliyah is west of Bin Jawad, which rebels took on Saturday.

    Libya Live Blog – March 6 AJE 6 Mar 11

    Hope they aren’t overextending themselves and that pro-Qaddafi forces are as weak as it seems they must be.  If I was fighting this I would wait till they passed and then strike in their rear in an attempt to cut them off.  Hope someone is watching out for this but events seem to be overtaking the loyalists at this point.

  21. creamer

       I just wanted to restate my oppostion to any overt military invoment from the US. Humanitarian aid and airlifting refugee’s is all good. Maybe jamming pro Gadafi communications, any more than that is ill advised.

      American bombs and missiles will give pro Gadafi forces a rallying point the don’t have now. If the wave of revolutions in the M.E. continues it needs to sustain itself, not be seen as a result of Western intrest.  

  22. HappyinVT

    19:17 @iyad_elbaghdadi translating a call from Misratah live on Al Jazeera. Thank you Iyad. He tweeted:

    We lured their convoy into the city center and then cut them off and surrounded them.

    Among the Gaddafi cars today firing on civilians was an ambulance with Tripoli plates.

  23. Shaun Appleby

    Misurata withstood an attack now as well as another on Az Zawiyah in recent hours:

    CONFIRMED: Gaddafi’s brigade have backed away from Misurata after the death of 22 of its men #feb17 #libya #gaddafi

    This demonstrated inability to reassert control so near to Tripoli has got to be frustrating the loyalist strategy and weakening their operational capability.

    As for the loyalist counter-attack at Bin Jawad it seems the revolutionaries managed a tactical withdrawal to Ras Lanuf in reasonable order:  

    Live call from Ras Lanuf on Aljazeera: We proceeded all the way to Wadi-al-Ahmar but fell back according to orders. #Libya

    @iyad_elbaghdadi Twitter

    It is hard to assess that action without more detailed information but it seems the objective of Sirte is still being pursued; perhaps more cautiously now.

  24. HappyinVT

    Interim Transitional National Council:

    Finally, even though the balance of power is uneven between the defenseless protesters and the tyrant regime’s mercenaries and private battalions, we will relay [sic] on the will of our people for a free and dignified existence.  Furthermore, we request from the international community to fulfill its obligations to protect the Libyan people from any further genocide and crimes against humanity without any direct military intervention on Libyan soil.

  25. HappyinVT


    After its first effort went so well, Britain will send a second “diplomatic” team to Libya, “in order to strengthen our dialogue”, the UK foreign office has announced. A statement attributed to William Hague said:

    This diplomatic effort is part of the UK’s wider work on Libya, including our ongoing humanitarian support. We continue to press for Gaddafi to step down and we will work with the international community to support the legitimate ambitions of the Libyan people.

    Probably a good idea to let people know you’re coming.  I don’t open the door if you don’t call first.

  26. what will happen if the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank put on massive non-violent protests. I would imagine that possibility has to be keeping a lot of Israeli gov’t officials awake at night.

  27. HappyinVT

    it’s snowing here and it appears we’ve broken the 100 inches mark for the winter.  It can stop after today.

  28. Shaun Appleby

    That part, at least, of the gunfire in Tripoli early this morning was an exchange of fire at the Qaddafi military compound, Bab Al Aziziya:

    Via @nanoomer2010 doctors at a hospital in AbuSalim Tripoli says dozens of the injured as a result of a military rebellion in Bab Aziziyah

    Could explain a lot but unconfirmed by other sources.

  29. Shaun Appleby

    The media has finally dropped the “stalemate” narrative.  So far the French reporting has been the most adventurous and combat-ready at least as far as their film crews are concerned.  Apparently a reporter was shot in the leg this morning at Bin Jawad.

  30. HappyinVT

    23:54 @LibyaInMe tweets that there is fierce fighting between Gaddafi’s forces and revolutionaries in Sirte right now.

    22:47 BBC: The UN has demanded “urgent access” to the rebel city of Misrata, which has come under heavy shelling by government forces and where a UN envoy said the “injured and dying” needed immediate help, AFP reports.

  31. Shaun Appleby

    But adventurous French diplomacy:

    @LibyaInMe: URGENT: Paris has welcomed the new National Council of Libya as the new representative of the country #libya #feb17 #gaddafi

    Maybe their special forces team were more polite and brought a basket of snacks for the council.

  32. Shaun Appleby

    Earlier on Sunday:

    Rebels first took Bin Jawad on Saturday, but later withdrew. Army units then occupied local homes and set up sniper and rocket-propelled grenade positions for an ambush.

    “It’s real fierce fighting, like Vietnam,” rebel fighter Ali Othman told Reuters. “Every kind of weapon is being used. We’ve retreated from an ambush and we are going to regroup.”

    When the rebels returned, a fierce exchange of rockets and mortar bombs ensued just outside Bin Jawad with the army also using heavy artillery. Behind rebel lines, hundreds of fighters armed with machine guns and assault rifles waited to advance.

    “The firing is sustained, there is the thud of shells landing, the whoosh of rockets, puffs of smoke and heavy machine gun fire in the distance,” a Reuters correspondent there said.

    Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy – ‘Every kind of weapon is being used’ IOL News 6 Mar 11

    Sounds like on-the-job training to me but doesn’t seem they really have lost much ground.  Reports of fighting now in Sirte are still unconfirmed but would indicate they have advanced more than eighty kilometres if true.  The revolutionaries seem to have pretty good mobility.

  33. Shaun Appleby

    Here we go:

    Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi.  […]

    The Saudis have been told that opponents of Gaddafi need anti-tank rockets and mortars as a first priority to hold off attacks by Gaddafi’s armour, and ground-to-air missiles to shoot down his fighter-bombers.

    Supplies could reach Benghazi within 48 hours but they would need to be delivered to air bases in Libya or to Benghazi airport. If the guerrillas can then go on to the offensive and assault Gaddafi’s strongholds in western Libya, the political pressure on America and Nato – not least from Republican members of Congress – to establish a no-fly zone would be reduced.

    US military planners have already made it clear that a zone of this kind would necessitate US air attacks on Libya’s functioning, if seriously depleted, anti-aircraft missile bases, thus bringing Washington directly into the war on the side of Gaddafi’s opponents.

    Robert Fisk – America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels Independent 7 Mar 11

    Easier to deny I suppose than eight special forces caught in the act but still…  It obligates us to the House of Saud and demonstrates our intentions in that potentially upcoming tangle.  No sign of it happening, though, and the leak probably came from the Saudis, I’m guessing.  Fisk may be a thorn in the side of US foreign policy but he’s often on the money.

  34. Shaun Appleby

    About Syrian pilots flying for Qaddafi for over a week now and here we seem to be getting some evidence:

    A long-standing defence agreement between the two countries has meant that a number of Syrian pilots are stationed in Libya to train with the Libyan air force.

    Intriguing.. and quite possibly true. What gives this story a large degree of credibility was the shooting down yesterday of a Libyan air force jet by rebels, killing both pilots. After checking their ID papers, the rebels discovered that one of the dead pilots was a Syrian.

    A cameraman working for France 2 captured the moment. Watch the video here.

    Malik Al-Abdeh – Is Syria secretly supporting Gaddafi? Syria in Transition 7 Mar 11

    Where there’s smoke…

  35. HappyinVT

    Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. McCain said the U.S. can help the rebels now by pumping in humanitarian assistance; by providing technical assistance, intelligence and training; and by declaring support for a provisional government. Mr. McConnell of Kentucky, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said that “arming the insurgents” could be an option, citing as a possible model U.S. efforts against the Soviets during the Cold War.

    Administration officials said later on Sunday that President Barack Obama is considering various options, but he wants any action, such as the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, to be closely coordinated with international allies. The U.S. is cautious right now about providing military assistance to the rebels, on the grounds that Washington doesn’t know what aid is needed, who their leaders are and whether they can be trusted longer-term.

    I hate to keep harping on this but thank whomever you want that someone thinking long-term is making these decisions.

    The article at the link also mentions that both pro- and anti- government officials said that Gaddafi could overtake populated areas but he does not want to incur large casualties.  I guess that’s big of him.

  36. Shaun Appleby

    From a unconfirmed source that loyalists are headed for Ras Lanuf with air cover.  10:15AM in Libya:

    Al Arabiya: Gaddafi forces advance towards Ras Lanuf under military air cover. #Libya

    Al Arabiya has raised doubts regarding their agenda in the past.

  37. Shaun Appleby

    Is under attack again by loyalist forces for the fourth time.  Armoured vehicles again in the centre of town:

    @LibyaFeb17_com: AJA eyewitness live: 3 tanks destroyed and 1 tank was captured in good condition #libya #feb17

    The siege of Az Zawiyah continues.

  38. HappyinVT

    21 inches of snow and counting.  Snowing pretty good right now, too.  The record snowfall is set in the 1970s (’78, I believe) at 145 inches.  We are at +/- 119 by my calculations.  Imma gonna go play in it (ie walk to the store) soon.

  39. fogiv

    But even as troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi tried to reverse the rebels’ territorial gains, a former Libyan prime minister appeared on the state-controlled television station and called for negotiations to end the weeks-long uprising.

    Jadallah Azous Al-Talhi, who was prime minister in the 1980s, appealed to elders in this rebel-controlled city, asking them for a national dialogue to end the bloodshed. At the same time, opposition sources said the regime had made private overtures about launching negotiations.

    Jalal el Gallal, a spokesman with the opposition in Benghazi, said a Gaddafi representative has reached out to the Transitional National Council, but the council has refused to deal with him. “They’ve been asking for contact, but the council has refused,” Gallal said.

    How does this reek of anything other than (a) desperation, or (b) ambush?

  40. HappyinVT

    Usher is the latest.

    “Amnesty International activists are working globally to press the international community to support Middle East activists … Usher’s donation will support this urgent work to counter the brutal conditions like those imposed by Gaddafi and other leaders across the Middle East,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

    Last week, following Nelly Furtado’s initiative, Beyoncé and Mariah Carey said they would each return the $1 million the received for performing for Gaddafi’s family.

    Carey released a statement saying, “I was naïve and unaware of who I was booked to perform for. I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess. Going forward, this is a lesion for all artists to learn from. We need to be more aware and take more responsibility regardless of who books our shows. Ultimately we as artists are to be held accountable.”

    Read more:

    Maybe I’m being too harsh but Carey’s statement sounds ludicrous.  She didn’t know who she was performing for and didn’t bother to look.  Come one, admit you wanted the money at the time and now that the shit has hit the fan you don’t want it anymore.

    Beyonce’s money is going to earthquake relief in Haiti.

  41. Shaun Appleby

    To aggregate information at the moment but it seems:

    Az Zintan in South-western Libya has broken the siege on their city of ten days and forced loyalist forces to withdraw.  This may be significant as it would open up a new front which loyalists forces must deal with.

    Az Zawiyah has been under attack from shelling and apparently ground attack aircraft.  Impossible to get information from within the city but those outside claim it has been extremely heavy:

    @libyanexpat: Getting distress calls from people just outside zawiya saying the whole city has been destroyed. Ya Allah please protect our families #Libya

    In Ras Lanuf it is still unclear where the front line is at the moment.  There have been numerous air strikes on Ras Lanuf including a car destroyed with three fatalities.  Situation fluid and little reporting at the moment:

    There’s a lot of planning going on for the Ras Lanuf-to-Sirt front by revolutionaries, I can confirm that. Of course no details. #Libya

    It would seem the desert campaign is headed to a tipping point.

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