David Blackburn

A weekend in Libya

A weekend in Libya
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There’s no respite in Libya, where there have been significant developments this weekend. There have been reports (and harrowing images) of mass graves being uncovered in Tripoli, the latest suggestion that pro-Gaddafi forces have committed appalling atrocities in what is now a purely callous struggle. The National Transitional Council says it has evidence of further crimes. On the other hand, Channel 4 has found a handful of Nigerians (presumably mercenaries) in captivity, who are terrified that they will be shot by their rebel captors.

Meanwhile, rebel forces have taken control of most of Tripoli and are now setting up a civil administration there. Already, the NTC has pledged to strive to end shortages of food, medicine and water, which have created a growing humanitarian crisis in the country. Western aid packages will provide the materiel to alleviate the strain and Tunisia’s decision to re-open the main road to Libya will allow those supplies to be delivered, in theory at any rate: Gaddafi guerrillas are apparently at large in the western desert, rebel forces are hunting them down.

The NTC ‘s rhetoric is encouraging, suggesting that it has the wherewithal to address issues that, if left unattended, might further destabilise the country. Scepticism about their cohesion has also quietened in recent days, although those concerns presumably remain beneath the joy at the fall of Tripoli, epitomised by rebels taking a dip in Gaddafi’s pool.

The rebels’ main military effort has turned to Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown and alleged last bastion. Rebel commanders warn that it may take more than 10 days to take the town, but after that they’ll hope that there is no need of further offensives.

Gaddafi remains at liberty and is apparently trying to sue for peace and form a transitional government, a “delusional” ruse according to William Hague, who points out that the transfer of power is already underway. The NTC has rejected the babbling Colonel. It seems that Gaddafi’s surrender must be unconditional.