Friday, October 21, 2011

Gaddafi Rest in Hell

It has finally ended in the only way it could have ended.  Importantly it ended at the hands of his own people who did all the dirty work.  It is worth considering that the role of NATO was to neutralize the arms accumulated by Gaddafi so they could not be easily used against his own people.  There is a lesson here in terms of intervention in other revolutions.

The military has had a chance to train up and reorganize while the politicians have had time to come forward.  They can even begin to trust each other.

I have no doubt that Libya will be rebuilt in stunning speed and a well run democratic regime is on the way in Libya.  Questions lingering about other situations will not be here because the people have spoken as they did in Romania and other recalcitrant dictatorships.

Other dictatorships have yet to crumble, so much remains to be seen as the Arab Spring progresses.  However the correct role of intervention is now much clearer.  It can deny an illegitimate government outright access to the major weapon systems they may have accumulated which are clearly inappropriate for use against their own people.  This allows the people to organize an assault on the forces loyal to the regime and to set up a provisional government.  Sooner or late the former regime is worn down and buckles.

This strategy is plausible in order to take down the present government of Syria who certainly has destroyed whatever legitimacy it has.  It is not so plausible in Yemen which is also in the midst of a sectarian civil war.

As far as some of the other Arab States, it may simply be too soon as their populations are now looking to see reforms come their way.  What has fallen are the truly rotten apples.  Others can still bluff it out.

Gaddafi was 'killed in crossfire'

Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire in an assault on his birthplace of Sirte, officials say.

20 October 2011 Last updated at 20:29 ET

Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he had been shot in the head in an exchange between Gaddafi loyalists and National Transitional Council fighters.

He confirmed that Col Gaddafi had been taken alive, but had died before reaching hospital.

Nato's governing body, meeting in the coming hours, is expected to declare an end to its Libyan bombing campaign.

Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that with the death of Col Gaddafi "that moment has now moved much closer".

"After 42 years, Col Gaddafi's rule of fear has finally come to an end," he said. "I call on all Libyans to put aside their differences and work together to build a brighter future."

Golden gun

Mr Jibril, number two in the National Transitional Council (NTC), held a news conference in Tripoli to confirm the colonel's death.

"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed," he said.

Video footage suggests Col Gaddafi was dragged through the streets.

Residents swarmed the streets of the capital, waving flags and cheering from the windows of their cars.

Tripoli's myriad of streets in various districts has been gridlocked for hours.

People and fighters manning checkpoints shouted out "God is Great", as some distributed mints and biscuits - later dubbed "revolutionary treats" - to passing cars.

There are many who will be wondering "what next?" for Libya as it embarks on a new era unobtainable for almost half a century.

It is unclear from the footage, broadcast by al-Jazeera TV, whether he was alive or dead at the time.

Mr Jibril, number two in the National Transitional Council (NTC), held a news conference in Tripoli to confirm the colonel's death.

Later, he told journalists that a "forensic report" had concluded that the colonel had died from bullet wounds after he had been captured and driven away.

"When the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head," said Mr Jibril, quoting from the report.

"The forensic doctor could not tell if it came from the revolutionaries or from Gaddafi's forces."

Earlier, some NTC fighters gave a different account of the colonel's death, saying he had been shot by his captors when he tried to escape.

One NTC fighter told the BBC that he found Col Gaddafi hiding in a hole, and the former leader had begged him not to shoot.

The fighter showed reporters a golden pistol he said he had taken from Col Gaddafi.

Arabic TV channels showed images of troops surrounding two large drainage pipes where the reporters said Col Gaddafi was found.

US President Barack Obama said it was a "momentous day" for Libya, now that tyranny had fallen.

He said the country had a "long and winding road towards full democracy", but the US and other countries would stand behind Tripoli.

Col Gaddafi was toppled from power in August after 42 years in charge of the country.

He was making his last stand in Sirte alongside two of his sons, Mutassim and Saif al-Islam, according to reports.

Nato air strike

A body officials identified as that of Mutassim has been shown on Libyan TV.

A reporter for the Reuters news agency described how the body of Mutassim -- the former national security adviser -- had been laid out on blankets on the floor of a house in the city of Misrata, while local people jostled to take pictures of the corpse with their mobile phones.

The body of Col Gaddafi was also taken to Misrata.

There are conflicting reports as to the whereabouts of Saif al-Islam.

Acting Justice Minister Mohammad al-Alagi told the AP news agency Saif al-Islam had been captured and taken to hospital with a leg wound.

But another NTC official said his whereabouts were unknown.

Nato, which has been running a bombing campaign in Libya for months, said it had carried out an air strike earlier on Thursday.

French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said French jets had fired warning shots to halt a convoy carrying Col Gaddafi as it tried to flee Sirte.

He said Libyan fighters had then descended and taken the colonel.

Proof of Col Gaddafi's fate came in grainy pieces of video, first circulated among fighters, and then broadcast by international news channels.

The first images showed a bloodied figure presumed to be Col Gaddafi.

Later, video emerged of the colonel being bundled on to the back of a pick-up truck after being captured alive.

None of the video footage has been independently verified.

'Full of challenges'

Libyans gathered in towns and cities across the country to celebrate the reports of the colonel's death.

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse has visited the drain where Col Gaddafi was reportedly found by NTC forces

Groups of young men fired guns in the air, and drivers honked horns in celebration.

In the capital Tripoli, wild scenes of celebration continued into the night, with cars clogging the city centre.

Col Gaddafi's death came after weeks of fierce fighting for Sirte, one of the last remaining pockets of resistance.

A senior official, Mahmoud Shammam, told the BBC that fighting throughout Libya was over.

World leaders urged the NTC to carry through its promise to reform the country.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had taken a leading role in Nato's intervention, said it was "a day to remember all of Col Gaddafi's victims".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it a "historic" moment, but warned: "The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges."

Officials said the NTC intended to announce the "liberation of the country" in the coming days, allowing them to begin pushing through democratic reforms that will lead to elections.

Moammar Gaddafi’s demise in Libya swings spotlight to uprisings in Syria, Yemen
By Liz Sly and Leila Fadel, Updated: Thursday, October 20, 4:00 PM

DAMASCUS, Syria — As the Arab Spring claimed its first dead dictator, the spotlight swung to the other revolts still simmering across the region, in Yemen and, perhaps the most intractable struggle of all, in Syria.

Moammar Gaddafi was the third of the region’s leaders to be ousted by his own people in less than eight months but the first to meet a bloody end. His death, coming two months after rebels drove his forces from Tripoli and began setting up a new government, was in some ways a footnote to an already tumultuous year.

But the scenes of his corpse being dragged through the streets of his home town of Sirte inevitably rekindled revolutionary sentiments across the region, along with hopes that his violent demise will give pause to the despots who remain.

In the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, thousands of people swarmed into Change Square to celebrate and to call for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. In the Tunisian capital, Tunis, where it all began in January with the flight of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, young men took to the streets wrapped in Libyan flags and drivers honked their horns into the night in celebration.

“Now all these tyrants who thought they would rule forever are trembling,” Khelil Ezzaouia, a leader of the secularist Ettakatol party, said at a town hall meeting in a glitzy mall in Tunis as campaigning accelerated ahead of the Arab Spring’s first free election on Sunday.

But it was the implications of Gaddafi’s fate for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who is showing no signs of faltering despite nearly eight months of protests against his rule, that most seemed to capture the imagination of commentators across the region.

“Ben Ali fled. Mubarak is on trial. Gaddafi was killed. The greater the tyrant’s resistance to his people the worse his punishment,” tweeted Essam al-Zamel, a writer at the Saudi newspaper al-Yawm, referring also to Egypt’s deposed President Hosni Mubarak. “It seems that Bashar will be crucified to death in the center of Damascus.”

Syrian demonstrators took to the streets in several towns and cities across the north and south, and in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, to cheer Gaddafi’s demise. Activists said they hoped it would reinvigorate a protest movement that has shown signs of withering in recent weeks in the face of the sustained severity of the government’s crackdown.

Some also expressed hope that the effective end of the NATO bombing campaign in Libya would free up Western forces to come to the aid of Syrian protesters, who have been calling for a no-fly zone, like the one that facilitated the Libyan revolution, since Gaddafi was toppled in August.

“Maybe NATO will be free now to involve themselves in Syria. At least we hope so,” said Omar al-Muqdad, an activist from the southern town of Daraa who fled to Turkey in the early months of the uprising. “And maybe the regime will get this message, that NATO is free now to attack them.”

There still seems little prospect of that, however. President Obama, speaking in Washington, issued a warning to Arab dictators but did not suggest that the United States would step up efforts to remove them.

“Today’s events prove once more that the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end,” he said. “Across the Arab world, citizens have stood up to claim their rights. Youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship. And those leaders who try to deny their human dignity will not succeed.”

Obama has called on both Saleh and Assad to step aside, but there has not yet been a concerted effort by world powers to force their ouster, as was the case with Libya. Russia and China have blocked action at the U.N. Security Council against their ally Syria, and Yemen’s gulf neighbors have been reluctant to pressure Saleh, for fear of jeopardizing his role in the fight against al-Qaeda.

In Damascus, where Assad’s grip seems unshakable and the protests that have engulfed many other parts of the country have failed to gain critical mass, a group of young businessmen at an upscale cafe insisted that Syria was different from Libya and that what happened there could not possibly happen in their country.

Gaddafi had nothing in common with Assad, they said. Assad, unlike Gaddafi, is popular with his people, and Syria has a strong army that could withstand a NATO assault and wreak havoc across this strategically sensitive region.

“Gaddafi was totally insane,” said financial adviser Mohammed Homsi, 33. “We love Bashar. And the strategic calculation is different.”

The likelihood of international military intervention in Syria seems remote, said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. But with attention diverted from Libya, and at a time when the gulf states are starting to show signs of impatience with Syria, the pressure is likely to intensify on Assad as well as Saleh.

Gaddafi’s death “holds important lessons now for other dictators in the months ahead,” Shaikh said. “The protests are not going away, and we are seeing a move towards the militarization of those conflicts.

“I think we could certainly see a more concerted effort to isolate and pressure the Syrian regime.”

Fadel reported from Tunis. Special correspondent Ingy Hassieb in Cairo contributed to this report.

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