The death of Osama Bin Laden may be a very arresting punctuation mark in the conflict against tyranny — but the conflict continues nevertheless, not least in Libya. The latest news from the country is that the rebels are maintaining their fragile hold on the port town of Misrata, although Western agencies are still struggling to send in aid and relief supplies. “We have seven ICU beds and eleven cases,” is how one hospital worker puts it to Channel 4’s Alex Thomson. “What is Nato doing? What is the world doing? If any more people come here they will die.”
In political terms, there has been one significant development today: the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, has called on Gaddafi to “cede power immediately … without causing more bloodshed, tears and destruction.” Words that will do little to salve the situation in Misrata, perhaps. But — given how Turkey has previously sought to act as an undecided intermediary between the Libyan regime and the rebels — this is a fresh line in the sand, and one weighted against Gaddafi. The Turkish embassy in Tripoli has been evacuated, no doubt in concern at the anger which scorched our own over the weekend.
So, Turkey has now matched its rhetoric to Nato’s actions, and the Arab League is peddling a stronger line on freedom in the Middle East than it ever has before. These sentiments may fade in time, as the fundamentalists ooze onto the stage. But maybe, just maybe, they might strengthen some of the bonds between the region’s powerbrokers and the West. In either case, what’s happening in northern Africa has quite some bearing on this post-Bin Laden world.