UPDATE: No Peaceful End In Sight For Libya
photo: Manuel Bale Ceneta / news.com.au
By Francesco Turso
Libya’s self described “Moral Leader” Moammar Gadhafi made a public statement over the phone, on Thursday morning, March 3 blaming Al-Qaida for the revolt in Libya. MSNBC reported that he believes Al-Qaida militants are “exploiting” teenagers by giving them “hallucinogenic pills in their coffee with milk.”
The country has been in turmoil since protesters took to the streets to depose their leader. A far cry from the peaceful resolutions in the middle east in recent weeks; many people have died and countless more injured. Army units and foreign mercenaries struck back against rebellious Libyans holding an anti-government sit in at the Zawiya mosque, killing at least 23 people and wounding 150.
The country is currently split in two factions; protesters occupying the eastern part of the nation, while loyalist to Gadhafi are held up in the west. Recently Gadhafi supporters assaulted an airport outside of Misrata, Libya’s third largest city. Protesters were able to overcome them and turned an anti-aircraft gun, used by the militia, against them.
With the help of mutinied officers from a nearby military base, protesters were able to disable jet fighters in an effort to prevent them being used against the uprising. According to Associated Press, two Libyan air force colonels, landed in Malta seeking asylum, shortly after two civilian helicopters landed carrying seven people who said they were French. The pilots had to fly low over Libyan airspace to avert detection.
On March 2, President Obama characterized the suffering and bloodshed in Libya as “outrageous” and “unacceptable,” and added that the White House is “not ruling anything out in its response to the Libyan government’s crackdown against a popular revolt.” Stltoday.com further reported that he is dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva for international talks “aimed at stopping the violence.”
Protesters have been seen marching the streets flying Libya’s old flag, a further sign that they want Gadhafi ousted. In cities like Benghazi and Tobruk, troops and police have either withdrawn or have joined disparate opposition groups to start providing some order and services.
According to BBC, the UN estimates that more than 1,000 people have died in nearly three weeks of unrest in Libya, in contrast to the relatively peaceful resolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. On March 7, Barak Obama spoke at the White House after a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“Australia and the US stand shoulder to shoulder in sending a clear message that we stand for democracy, that we stand for an observance of human rights, and we send a very clear message to the Libyan people that we will stand with them in the face of unwarranted violence and the continued suppression of democratic ideals,” said Obama, “I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Col Gaddafi: It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward,” adding that they would be held accountable for any violence.