So, Libya again.
As I’ve said before, the situation in Libya is incredibly important. It’s also unique in many respects.
Although Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt are all nearby, Libya differs from them significantly in its degree of isolation. America has had working relationships with Algeria Egypt and Tunisia for quite some time, whereas our relations with Libya have only recently, and very slowly been thawing.neither the US government nor the US media have any substantial presence on the ground there.
Right now, what is going on in Libya is unlike the protests anywhere else in the Middle East. Certainly, the violence in Bahrain and Yemen is jarring and horrific, but Libya is undergoing something of an entirely different stripe. While the government of Bahrain has turned to its allies in Saudi Arabia for support in suppressing public protests, and the Yemeni government lacks the stability for a coherent response to the uprisings in their streets, Libya is undergoing an all out war.
Battles for entire cities and towns are currently underway. Helicopters are shooting at crowds, and government hired mercenaries (reportedly non-Libyan french-speaking Africans) are gunning people down in the streets. Body count estimates at this point are into the hundreds, but I would suspect they are, in actuality, much higher.
The current strategy being used by the government speaks to the precariousness of their situation. The fact that mercenaries have been deployed in cities suggests that the leadership does not fully trust its own soldiers to do the dirty work, and there have been reports of soldiers being beaten for refusing to fire on civilians and even some areas where the military seems to have joined with the protesters.
The intensity of the uprisings seem to have taken the government by surprise, oddly enough. Or perhaps the Libyan Army isn’t all that good at logistics, or perhaps there is turmoil within the ranks. For whatever reason, there weren’t enough troops in place to control the situation when it began, and protester have seized two of the airfields in western Libya that were being used to reinforce the troops.
There have also been reports that some of the mercenaries have seized hundreds of hostages, and are demanding that they be allowed to leave safely in exchange for the release of their prisoners.
Benghazi was one of the first cities to rise up, and as a result of it has been the target of the heaviest attacks by Libyan military and the heaviest fighting. Hospitals are reportedly full of the dead and injured, the soldiers on the ground are shooting to kill, and Libyan voices are calling the government’s actions there “massacre”.
The extent of the situation is still unclear, but there are reports that the military has joined with the revolting citizens to free al-bayda and are headed to Benghazi to support the people in the streets there. There are also reports that the Libyan government is sending in more mercenaries to the conflict areas.
It’s basically become impossible to follow, but you can catch up here:
http://www.libyafeb17.com/ is pretty comprehensive,
I've also been following these four twitter feeds http://twitter.com/iyad_elbaghdadi and http://twitter.com/ShababLibya and http://twitter.com/EnoughGaddafi and http://twitter.com/libi4ever
Al Jezeera has a Libya live blog, but it's not as thorough as it should be
The Libyan government did shut down the internet yesterday, but parts of it seem to be back up.(Which is a good thing for bit.ly and anyone else using a .ly suffix)
The most comprehensive site for the situation on the ground is here:
http://www.libya-/letters/v2011a/v31jan11z.htm#n18feb116 (run through Google translate). Be warned - there are very graphic pictures of dead protesters on this page. This site will tell you more than you want to know about the situation right now.
This video is from the libya-watanona.com page - it's mostly protest footage, but be warned, there are some graphic images of the dead and wounded in the video as well.
Oh, yea, and Gaddafi's leadership congress has pledged a change in government administrators. Yea, that'll fix the situation.