90% of Libya in Rebel Hands

The LAT reports that the rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi’s 41-year dictatorship in Libya headed toward an end-game on Wednesday, as Misurata, the country’s third-largest city (pop. 600,000), fell to the opposition. Significantly, Misurata is in the west of the country, where support for Qaddafi had been stronger. It is only 100 miles east of the capital, Tripoli.

Most of the country stretching from the outskirts of Tripoli east toward Egypt is now in the hands of popular committees allied with local security forces that have defected from the dictator. Even to Tripoli’s west, the rebellion had spread to some small towns. Qaddafi is increasingly left only with a sullen and sanguinary Tripoli, about 1 million people, where the streets are ghostly and marauding security forces hotrod it through the streets, sometimes firing indiscriminately.

Aljazeera Arabic is making the point that a lot hinges on the Libyan tribes’ response to the crisis. The reporter says that the officer corps is actually an assemblage of tribal notables cultivated by Qaddafi over the years, and in the end tribal loyalties may win out. The BBC concurs.

Thus, The city of Az-Zintan 150 km to the southwest of Tripoli is a major tribal center, Including of the powerful Warfala tribe, which has turned on Qaddafi. The az-Zintan tribes are even facilitating the volunteer activities of youth who want to go to the capital and help rescue its besieged population.

The former leader of the Awlad Sulaiman tribe, Sheikh Saif al-Nasr, went on Aljazeera and broadcast an appeal to the young people of this tribe and others in the south to join in the protests and end the dictatorship.

Likewise, the Tarhun tribe has largely washed its hands of Qaddafi. It is key because about a third of the residents of Tripoli belong to it.

And even some members of Qaddafi’s own Qadhadfa tribe are turning on him.

On the Libyan-Egyptian border, Members of the Awlad Ali tribe, who trace their origins back to Libya, condemned the iron-fisted crackdown of the regime.

Aljazeera reports on the spread of the rebellion to new cities, including Misurata:

Aljazeera English has video on the regime’s continued tactics of brutal oppression.

18 Responses

  1. .
    That leaves the Colonel in control of only a slice of the oil & gas industry.
    link to crudeoilpeak.com
    Not shown: the Greenstream Natural Gas pipeline to Sicily, that comes ashore 40 miles West of Tripoli.
    .

    • At the time that I was writing, it was difficult for me to find a major city aside from Tripoli that wasn’t under rebel control. Libya only has a population of about 6 million. Qaddafi has lost Dirna, al-Bayda, Benghazi, Misurata, as well as the rural areas controlled by the Warfalla (1 million strong) tribe and the 500,000 Tuaregs in the south. His security forces are riposting on Thursday, but as of when I wrote, he just had parts of Tripoli. Hence my guess that just 600,000 or so were still under his domination.

  2. link to protest11.org The site is engaged in spreading raw information of the current middle east protests (Video, Image, Audio) and allowing uploads of first hand info.

    Help us spread this. Let the world know what’s happening.

  3. Hi Juan,

    Thanks as always for these invaluable updates. Do you have any information as to the character/composition/politics of the “popular committees” you reference here?

  4. Juan, thank you for highlighting the important role the Libyan tribes play in this uprising giving me cause to read more about the subject e.g. link to globalsecurity.org
    From a Western point of view Qaddafi’s intent to substitute tribal rule and customs with education and merit based bureaucracy outweighed his inflammatory rhetoric and his history of terrorist activities. What role do you think will the tribes play in the future? Will they try to roll back Qaddafi’s reforms and substitute lineage, wealth, and piety as leadership criteria?

  5. One of the ways you can tell that Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya underwent a real people’s uprising is that there’s none of that CIA color coded crap : No “Green”,”Orange”, “Rose” revolutions here. Cf the “Jasmin Revolution” being pimped in China.

  6. The removal of Qaddafi is paramount to the emergence of representative government all along the North African north. See

    link to zcommunications.org to understand how important these upheavals are to changing the USA/Israel suppressive of the Arab people.

  7. It is amazing that the Libyan Deputy secretary to the united nation now is saying that Gaddafi used Serbian and Ukrainian pilots to bomb Libyans and asking for no fly zone over Libya. He did not provide any any prove but he said he is sure. What kind of representative of the Libyan people is he? . Keep in mind he is even jumping over the head of the Libyan secretary to the UN himself and disagreeing with him. He should fired him for speading rumors that Serbians pilots are involved in Bombing Libyans. How stupid does this poppet think we are?
    Libyans in Benghazi talked to Ben Weidamen and they themselves said they were not bombed but afraid because they heard he used it in Tripoli. Honestly, do Gaddafi and his sons think they can smell the !30 billion dollars that are in foreign banks if they bomb their own people? And Switzerland already froze their accounts.
    It shameful and nauseating that this man, without providing any prove, would spread to Libyans and the world these kind of unfounded and baseless rumors and jeopardizes the lives of 5 million Libyans.

    • Reuters: “Serbian officials are denying reports that its pilots or ground crews had been involved in Libyan air force bombing missions against protesters, and said it was suspending all its arms exports to the country.
      by Allan Shifman at 9:04 AM”

      Isn’t time for Mr. Dabbshi and everyone trying to get a no fly zone over Libya, in the name of protecting civilians, to stop being poppets and stop asking for an act of war? These still unfounded statements are already being used as facts to provoke a response. WE DON”T WANT ANYMORE WARS AND ANYONE ASKING FOR ANY KIND OF FOREIGN MILITARY INTERVENTION DOES NOT REPRESENT THE WILL OF PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE EAS. WE CAN GET RID OF OUR OWN DICTATORS. ENOUGH!

  8. Just some questions. I am curious about the nature of tribes and clans in the middle east. They seem to be of great political importance not only in Libya but also in Iraq, Arabia, and Afghanistan. Are they anything like the Indian tribes in the US? Why their persistence in Islamic lands? By my understanding the Roman empire was overrun by tribal peoples, but tribalism seems to have disappeared in short order from the barbarian successor kingdoms. One more question: some news reports mention the recruitment by Libya of “mercenaries” to defend the regime. Is there anything to this? If so, who are they?

  9. It would seem that using al-Qaeda as a bogeyman
    is not limited to the United States and its allies,
    both Gaddafi and al-Maliki also find it convenient.

    • Isn’t that great? The democratic government that Bush supported had arrested a reporter yesterday that was calling for more protestors on the streets of Bagdad on Friday. Is the US government going to call Al-Maliki to release him as it did for Aljazeera reporters that were arrested by Mubarak? Or this is a personal thing since that this reporter is the one that threw his shoe at president Bush?

  10. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I have noticed an increase in western commentators referring to what’s going on in Libya as a “civil war”.

    My understanding of a civil war is that there has to be at least some level of significant support in a country on both of the sides fighting – which does not seem to exist on the pro-Gaddafi side.

    I wonder if “civil war” is being advanced as a justification for intervention in Libya, especially as there is no alternate power structure like the army in Egypt.

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