Libyan Regime Holds On as Humanitarian Situation Worsens

Protests continue despite violence

The regime is fighting back today in Libya, as troops loyal to Gaddafi retake the town of Brega, 500 miles east of the capital Tripoli. After an aerial bombardment of the city, in the rebel-controlled east of the country, troops seized it in Gaddafi’s biggest military success since the Libyan uprising against his government began two weeks ago. There are also eyewitness reports of fighter jets bombing the towns of Ajdabiyah and Az Zawiyah, suggesting further attacks in the near future. However, the residents of the town of Zawiya, only 30 miles west of Tripoli, are celebrating holding off a six-hour attack by Gaddafi’s forces.

The regime is fighting back today in Libya, as troops loyal to Gaddafi retake the town of Brega, 500 miles east of the capital Tripoli. After an aerial bombardment of the city, in the rebel-controlled east of the country, troops seized it in Gaddafi’s biggest military success since the Libyan uprising against his government began two weeks ago. There are also eyewitness reports of fighter jets bombing the towns of Ajdabiyah and Az Zawiyah, suggesting further attacks in the near future. However, the residents of the town of Zawiya, only 30 miles west of Tripoli, are celebrating holding off a six-hour attack by Gaddafi’s forces.As Gaddafi remains defiant, US warships are moving through the Suez Canal towards Libya, joining ships and planes which have already been moved closer to the country. However, David Cameron’s support for the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya does not look likely to be adopted internationally in the near future. The US administration described it as being challenging both militarily and diplomatically, whilst the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that there would be no foreign military intervention in Libya without a UN mandate. There is little desire internationally to get involved militarily in the conflict, especially as the key players are already involved in two protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gaddafi, who has survived coups before, seems unaware of the scale of the uprising against him. As recently as Monday he claimed “all my people love me” when speaking to the BBC, whilst his son Saif has warned the West against launching direct military action, saying “we are ready, we are not afraid”.

Fears of a humanitarian crisis in the country are also growing. About 75,000 people have crossed the border into Tunisia since the uprising began, whilst a further 70,000 have left via the Egyptian border. However, there are still an estimated 40,000 people waiting to cross at the Tunisian border post, some being crushed in the crowds and many suffering from exhaustion. Ban Ki Moon called for food, water, sanitation, medical care and shelter to be provided as a matter of urgency. Meanwhile, Gaddafi sought to demonstrate his legitimacy as the country’s leader through his compassion to those living in rebel areas by sending aid to Libya’s second city, Benghazi, the epicentre of the area under opposition control. On Tuesday morning there were queues outside bread shops in Tripoli, and some were limiting the number of loaves per customer.

The UN General Assembly unanimously voted to suspend Libya’s Human Rights Council membership because of the violence used by loyal forces against the protestors. Gaddafi has also been referred to the International Criminal Court, and sanctions have been imposed, including the freezing of all Libya’s assets abroad. This is the most violent of the Arab revolts which have taken place this year, and the number of victims, which has almost reached 2000, is expected to rise.

To read more on this story, see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/01/libya-no-fly-zone-cameron

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/03/01/uk-libya-idUKLDE71Q0MP20110301

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/03/02/uk-libya-idUKLDE71Q0MP20110302

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12618367

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8356390/Libya-Gaddafi-forces-seize-eastern-town-Brega.html

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