Al-Jazeera live blog
Scott Lucas at Enduring America
The situation in Libya with Gaddafi continues to deteriorate:
Deep rifts opened in Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, with Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigning, air force pilots defecting and a bloody crackdown on protest in the capital of Tripoli, where cars and buildings were burned. Gadhafi went on state TV early Tuesday to attempt to show he was still in charge.
Amid reports that Gadhafi fled Tripoli for Venezuela and an inevitable power lunch with Sean Penn, Quadaffi chose an unusual setting to reassure Libya that he was still in the country and in charge. He appeared in a car wearing a Cousin Eddy hat holding an umbrella and speaking into a microphone swiped from Bob Barker
Aaron Worthing at Patterico:
And Haaretz has this account, claiming that Gaddafi is barricaded in his compound:
A Libyan opposition activist and a Tripoli resident say the streets of a restive district in the Libyan capital are littered with the bodies of scores of protesters shot dead by security forces loyal to longtime leader Muammar Gadhafi, who is reported to be barricaded in his compound in the city.
(Must… resist… urge… to make boxing joke…)
…of the Libyan Salvation Front and the resident say Tripoli’s inhabitants are hunkering down at home Tuesday after the killings and warnings by forces loyal to Gadhafi that anyone on the streets would be shot.
Ali, reached in Dubai, and the Tripoli resident say forces loyal to Gadhafi shot at ambulances and some protesters were left bleeding to death. The resident spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Western media are largely barred from Libya and the report couldn’t be independently confirmed.
As they say read the whole thing. I am not pleased with that kind of sourcing, but I suspect it’s going to be hard to get reliable accounts of what happened for the next few days.
Meanwhile the New Yorker is already writing the epitaph of the regime. Mmm, I hope I am wrong on this, but that strikes me as jumping the gun. Yes, Gaddafi looks like he is in serious trouble, but it is possible to kill your way out of a thing like this, if your military is sufficiently loyal.
In related news, the National Editor’s Union has issued a statement calling for the ouster of the dictator, if only because no one can figure out how to spell his name. (Yes, that is a joke.)
Not a good week for authoritarians it appears. Of course be careful what you wish for – while we may see one crop of authoritarians shunted to the side, there is no indication that anything other than a different type of authoritarian regime would replace it in many of these places. Change is definitely in the air. But whether that’s finally a “good thing” remains to be seen.
Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy:
The unfolding situation in Libya has been horrible to behold. No matter how many times we warn that dictators will do what they must to stay in power, it is still shocking to see the images of brutalized civilians which have been flooding al-Jazeera and circulating on the internet. We should not be fooled by Libya’s geographic proximity to Egypt and Tunisia, or guided by the debates over how the United States could best help a peaceful protest movement achieve democratic change. The appropriate comparison is Bosnia or Kosovo, or even Rwanda where a massacre is unfolding on live television and the world is challenged to act. It is time for the United States, NATO, the United Nations and the Arab League to act forcefully to try to prevent the already bloody situation from degenerating into something much worse.
By acting, I mean a response sufficiently forceful and direct to deter or prevent the Libyan regime from using its military resources to butcher its opponents. I have already seen reports that NATO has sternly warned Libya against further violence against its people. Making that credible could mean the declaration and enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya, presumably by NATO, to prevent the use of military aircraft against the protestors. It could also mean a clear declaration that members of the regime and military will be held individually responsible for any future deaths. The U.S. should call for an urgent, immediate Security Council meeting and push for a strong resolution condeming Libya’s use of violence and authorizing targeted sanctions against the regime. Such steps could stand a chance of reversing the course of a rapidly deteriorating situation. An effective international response could not only save many Libyan lives, it might also send a powerful warning to other Arab leaders who might contemplate following suit against their own protest movements.
The Arab Street did not need the US in Egypt, but in LIbya it is a different story entirely. Reports suggest that Gaddafi’s forces have already used heavy equipment and aircraft weapons against protestors. Al Arabiya sources say that bombing of Benghazi will commence tonight – or any minute, since we are half a day behind the Middle East, night is already falling there. And there are even some reports via Twitter sources that the Libyan navy is firing on shore targets.
Earlier, it was reported that a group of Libyan Air Force officers had defected to Malta. It turns out that they were already on a mission to Benghazi and disengaged at 500 feet. Unlike in Egypt, where the military refused orders to fire upon the civlians, these air force officers are in the minority – Libya is killing its own people.
It’s rare for me to advocate something as direct as a military action – but a no-fly zone is something we must as a nation do, and do immediately, if we are to do anything to help bring about a new golden age of democracy in the Middle East. After Egypt, all Arab leaders feared their people; after Libya, the people will again fear their tyrants. All the progress will be lost, all the potential will be wasted.
This is the moment that must be seized. And only we can do it.
I am about to depart Cairo after five great days here spent conducting interviews and gathering “atmospherics” in post-Mubarak Egypt. I want to thank my employers for allowing me to take an extra five days off work to do this research as well as Issandr el-Amrani and his wife for being such generous hosts. I also want to thank Elijah Zarwan and many other people who have shared their expertise but would prefer to remain anonymous. I got to visit with my old friend Charles Levinson before he ran to the border, and let me continue to recommend both his coverage and that of his colleagues at the Wall Street Journal for what has been, in my observations at least, the best newspaper coverage to emerge out of these events. (al-Jazeera and CNN’s Ben Wedeman, meanwhile, continue to set the standard for television journalism.)
Like all of you, I have been horrified to see the images and reports coming out of Libya. Some of the images have been truly shocking, as has been the behavior of the evil Libyan regime.
But I am already reading calls for the United States and its allies to intervene in Libya, and I think we should all take a step back and first ask four questions:
1. Will an international intervention make things better, or worse?
2. If worse, do nothing. If better, who should be a part of this intervention?
3. Should the United States lead the intervention?
4. If so, what should we do?
All too often in humanitarian emergencies or conflicts, we skip ahead to Question 4 without first answering the first three questions. Let us not make that mistake this time. (Because I don’t myself even know the answer to Question 1.)
Frankly, I’m conflicted on this one. The crackdown on protesters is horrible but, unless is spills over international borders, I’m not sure that foreign intervention is either appropriate or justifiable. In either case, I certainly don’t think that unilateral American action would be appropriate, especially since it would seem to play right into the “foreign influence” meme that the Gaddafi family has been trying to tag the protests with over the past several days. In the end, how this turns out is going to have to be in the hands of the Libyan people.