The End of Qaddafi and other questions about Libya
All night in central Tripoli one heard mainly celebratory gunfire from the nearby newly renamed “Martyrs Square” (formerly ‘Green Square’) but so many questions are on most people minds this morning. Most hotel staff at my hotel appear crestfallen. Some ask, are the Qaddafi forces opening a trap for the rebel forces allowing them to come in quickly and easily and then when they are gathered in public celebrations and seek rest, counter attack?
The claim of the NTC representative this morning that the rebels control 95 per cent of Tripoli seems farfetched. This is a very spread out city and its clear rebel forces are not deployed everywhere.
There has been no sign of Colonel Gaddafi. Reports of Saif and Mohammad Qaddafi’s capture supports the idea that the government here wildly exaggerated its solid support and that the public largely believed them.
The outpouring of support for Qaddafi’s departure by the same crowds who seemed to adore him at Green Square the past five months is surprising but perhaps reveals why all powerful despots are often more form than substance and can collapse quickly under certain conditions.
The questions being asked here this morning by student friends include what happened to the resistance to NATO and its supported rebels, where are the “65,000 professional soldiers waiting to repel “NATO’s rebels” from entering Tripoli, mentioned just last night by Government spokesman, was there ever a real Libyan army of thousands ready to defend Tripoli, what will the transition be like, will there be tribal conflicts for power, will Libya have to pay for all the infrastructure damage, will NATO countries, given the widespread hostility to NATO killing so many civilians be granted oil contracts, will the US get another military base (Wheelus was closed by Qaddafi on June 1970), will the new government recognize Israel as NATO is said to be demanding, will the National Transition Council fulfill its pledges for a just, quick transition with early elections, and on and on.
[Excerpts of a report by journalist Franklin Lamb in Tripoli]