last updates Sept. 13
Even as Tripoli has apparently fallen for good and is suddenly racked with horrific "Gaddafi" atrocities, the green side fights on. The cities of Sirte, Bani Walad, and Sabha, at least, are still in the hands of Gaddafi loyalists, including tribal militias. They are still being bombed by NATO's warplanes and attacked by their helicopters, as they prepare for a September 10 surrender deadline or a September 11 assault by al Qaeda-linked rebel lynch mobs.
I have nothing much to add. News on the "fighting" is scarce, with most reportage being about the search for a negotiated settlement and analyses of how long this last mop-up will take before Libya is purged and purified for the forces of neo-Liberal freedom. The world is not likely to allow them to just stay there like an Indian reservation. They'd surely attack "civilians" (Libya's new government and army) all over again if left alone, even if they swore not to. Everyone knows you can't trust Gaddafi. So they must go if they don't abjectly surrender (and they probably won't).
My heart goes out to all those caught in the crossfire, as well as to those still holding to their oaths and prepared to die for what they feel is right. Once you are dead or locked up to die of sadness or torture, future Libya will be deprived of your input and guidance. But that was probably going to be the case anyway. This is not an exercise in sharing by NATO and its preferred leadership of "free-market" crusaders.
Sept 7: A video from a hospital in Sirte:
Euronews on Bani Walid, Moussa Ibrahim states refusal of negotiations:
Update Sept. 12
No Adequate Surrender, Perhaps None Possible
The Telegraph reported:
Negotiations for Sirte have so far failed because residents insisted the former rebels could only enter if they came without weapons and they wanted an amnesty for anyone guilty of crimes committed under Gaddafi's regime. Many there fear a wave of revenge and looting [and rightly so - ed] on a city that is closely associated with Gaddafi and his inner circle.
On Saturday, the head of the transitional government, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, tried to convince them, along with residents of Bani Walid, that they had nothing to fear. "We try to extend our hands to show peace to our brothers there to let our troops enter these cities peacefully without fighting," he said. [they were unconvinced - ed] At the same, however, he added that the deadline for surrender had expired and an attack was imminent. "Now the situation is in the hands of our revolutionary fighters," he said.
Hold on - they agreed to surrender to NTC rule so long as no one is prosecuted, and no one is shot? They agreed to stop fighting and allow a peaceful transition, if I'm reading that right, but the rebels rejected it? They want only blood (via some kangaroo "trial," perhaps), and want to keep their wildly-brandished weapons for drawing blood, while promising to be peaceful for the first time once inside Sirte of all places? And the world is okay that the attacks is coming? I'll have to look into that...
One option open to someone presented with such an offer would be to take them up on it, have a peaceful transfer and play the good guys for once, and then deal with the alleged crimes Gaddafi and son were to stand trial for in one or another of ways. They could find a way to realize it was largely crap and noise, even apologize for their part in that, and agree to move on. They could try to coax Gaddafi to stand trial with promises of a fairness, made credible and eventually delivered on, and start a national healing process. Or they could just renege after the peace and try to arrest him, even at the risk of briefly opening the war again if necessary. At least there could be a breather in there and a cooling-down period, some time to catch up on sleep, get well-fed again, bury the dead, and grieve a bit.
But they've opted to say "no dice. If we're not forced to concede anything, we won't." While they've got the momentum and the bombers there, all loose ends will be tied up at once, in a totalitarian sense. Every demand must be met, and now.
Chaotic Attacks on Bani Walid
So, the promised deadline and promised date of attack has come and passed without adequate concessions from the Libyan government. Bani Walid, where Seif al-Islam and Saadi Gaddafi were thought to be holding out was attacked. The offensive there began a day ahead of schedule on September 9, after taking fire from loyalist Grads, it's said. Bloomberg reports some details:
The rebel Halbus brigade from Misrata entered the suburbs of Bani Walid along the Maldoon Valley, getting to within six miles from the town center, according to Khalid Abdula Salem, commander of the rebel Western Front, in an interview from his headquarters in the oasis Abdul Rauf.Khamis? Hasn't he been killed now like five times? As for the "African mercenaries," you know, by mid-September it might finally be true. Back in February, and through most of the war, however, it definitely was not true.
They found some homes displaying the rebel tricolor and others the green flag of the Qaddafi regime, Salem said.
Bani Walid’s garrison is composed of the elite 32nd Brigade commanded by Qaddafi’s son Khamis, members of the Legion Thoria secret police, and units of mercenaries from Darfur, Salem said.
The assault was called "chaotic" by fighters there and by the Global Post, lacking in co-ordination. That means it failed. Where it's a chaotic winning fight, and they can slaughter freely, they don't complain. Indeed, a rebel fighter told the Post:
Monem said 10 revolutionaries died Sunday and 15 were injured, with most being hit from well-concealed or elevated positions. “There’s no clear target,” Monem said. “There’s no close snipers. They’re not shooting us with Kalashnikovs. The distance [they’re shooting from] is about a kilometer and a half, maybe two. With my gun [AK-47] I cannot shoot them. I did not fire one shot today because there is no clear target.” He said some rebels answer was to shoot randomly in the air.I recall seeing the Libyan government do about the same, with anti-aircraft guns, when under the abuse of god-like NATO forces. But these guys are the aggressors here, not the defenders. The Global Post also has Rebel leaders reiterate their intentions to aggress further:
[The] National Transitional Council say they won't consider Libya fully "liberated" until these loyalist centers fall."What the hell! Why don't these human shields want to be liberated? Are they shooting only out of fear? Their dang heads will come off soon either way! They just stuffed Abu Salim trauma hospital with some hundred examples of their handiwork. It's nothing new really, after dozens of taken cities and similar atrocities blamed on the crumbling regime. And now freedom and "sanity" are coming to the last few holdouts.
On Sunday, they went into the fringes of Bani Walid and were bloodied by long distance guns and locals shooting at them from house to house.
NATO War Crimes Alleged
NATO's air support for this surge of freedom of course continues. How on Earth could it turn back now? I can't confirm the following, but Leonore in Libya (good with rumors, not so much with details), a site called Ozyism, and something called Alrai TV (Syrian?), all report that, however they're delivering them, NATO's using cluster bombs and mustard gas. As Leonore put it (translated):
Bani Walid: NATO used cluster bombs and mustard gas against Bani Walid [...] during the heavy bombing of NATO. This is a crime against humanity and against international law and standards.Ozyism reported it once (unconfirmed), then again, (confirmed). The last was partly because Alrai TV in an on-line osting, has what it says is a photograph of one of the victims' face, dead, burnt and ravished. I'm skeptical of this, but no expert either.
Towards a Bloodbath in Sirte
Saadi has slipped out of Bani Walid into Niger, it's been reported, and Seif, is he's there or ever was, is safe for the moment. They stopped that attack and now the rebels are advancing on Sirte, where their father is "hiding," as the Tripoli post recently said, "like some rat." They halted the Bani Walid offensive not because it was too tough, but because that was their clever plan. As Bloomberg reported:
“Our mission is not to capture Bani Walid, it is to block the town and attack Sirte,” said [rebel intelligence officer Noraldien] Elmaiel, who is based in the rebel-held town of Misrata.Same problem they had at Bani Walid. Try dealing with NATO bombers some day, you punk.
The rebels pushed through the front line west of Sirte and were 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the town yesterday.
Protecting their flank was a large screening force of jeep- mounted infantry that moved from forward positions near Bani Walid to push eastward, south of the coastal highway, capturing the towns of Zem Zem and Wadi Bay against light resistance, said Elmaiel.
At Kilometer Sixty, 110 miles west of Sirte and the furthest point rebel forces allowed journalists to travel, columns of black pickup trucks mounting machine guns streamed to and from the front, stirring up clouds of dust that blew across the highway.
“They are hitting us with artillery, with mortars, with Grad rockets,” said sweat-soaked 20-year-old rebel fighter Ismail Katika. “We can’t hit the guns, we can’t see them.”
Human shields are feared again, the Telegraph reports, of the held-hostage in the face of rebel onslaught variant.
Fathi Baja, head of political affairs for the National Transitional Council (NTC), told McClatchy Newspapers that on Thursday as many as 300 hostages had been moved to the village – a stronghold of Gaddafi's Gaddafa tribe – to be used as "human shields" to prevent any advance on the city.Decoded: Their "chaotic" forces are expected to kill about this many civilians they'll need to blame on Gaddafi. It was predicted for Tripoli, and it happened - the regime killed hundreds of men women and children, freedom-loving Libyans who nearly all, in photos, look like regime loyalists or rotting "African mercenaries." Photos from Sirte or Bani Walid: less likely.
My hunch is they know some majority of the country still supported Gaddafi openly up until armed rebel kids with awkward beards were on their streets. They know the tribes are solid and might resist the NTC takeover, and the hardcore loyalists - hundreds of thousands of them - will require too much de-programming. The free market future would greatly benefit from what the rebels are pushing here - head-on battles, after more massive air-power softening by NATO, with all the crimes buried silently inside, and every last scrap of Human flesh admitted to pinned on Gaddafi's account. He killed the whole town in a fit of madness the FFs were just too late to prevent, as usual.
It's hoped by some this will be the final and climactic demonization of the war, again justifying the war in spades, and will along the way kill as many problem people as possible (Islamists against loyalists?) and really humble those remaining into abject silence and possibly quiet self-implosions from grief.
It's time to ask world leaders an important question: "Hey, how's that operation to prevent a bloodbath in Benghazi coming along?"
Sept. 13: NATO airstrikes pound pro-Gadhafi targets
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — NATO says its warplanes have pounded targets in a number of key strongholds of support for fugitive dictator Moammar Gadhafi.Jamahiriya counter-attack on Ras Lanuf reported by al Jazeera English
The alliance said Tuesday that airstrikes struck one radar system, eight surface-to-air missile systems, five surface-to-air missile trailers, one armed vehicle and two command vehicles a day earlier near Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.
NATO also says it struck six tanks and two armored fighting vehicles in Sabha in the southern desert.
Hoda Abdel-Hamid on Ras Lanuf refinery attack
Vancouver Sun reports it too
The Independent reports on "Schisms" in the rebel ranks on the latest assaults. The local Warfalla tribe members working with the rebellion have let them down a couple times, and are becoming suspected of being "traitors," of putting tribal loyalties (and hence Gaddafi loyalties) over loyalties to NATO's one Libya. This may not go well for the Warfalla in the long run, true or not.
More on the Grinding Down of Sirte, up to Sept. 30:
Situation in Sirte: Neither Good Nor Great