last update Jan. 26
I'm woefully uninformed on the situation in Bani Walid, even before the reported takeover by Green/Jamahiriya/Loyalist forces the other day. It seems the rebels sort of went around it to wallop Sirte, and then implicitly must've taken control sometime after. Now, the Bani Walid local (NTC) council says they were driven out and the green flag was raised, at least temporarily.
Such things have been reported before in Green news sources, almost all unverifiable and not carried by the mainstream media, suggesting a pitched civil war the loyalists were winning. This is the first time I know of where mainstream media-al Arabiya, the Guardian, BBC, CBS, everyone now, reports this as news.
Later, I'll bring more links. For now I'll start with the BBC, who "helpfully" pass on the doubts about the "competing claims" of what's going on there.
Confusion surrounds events in the Libyan town of Bani Walid after fighting broke out between armed groups on Monday, leaving four people dead.
The head of the local council has said a local militia was attacked by remnants of forces supporting late Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.
But the post-Gaddafi government has denied pro-Gaddafi forces were involved, saying instead the fighting was between rival militias.
The town is now reported to be calm.
I suspect the claim from Tripoli is bullshit. Loyalists are the ones who've been so good at re-taking Bani Walid at will. But then, that was back in the late summer last year. Is the city calm, or just reported so? By which set of competing authorities? Is it calm under green or red-black-and-green (or just black) control?
The state-run Libyan news agency WAL quotes the head of Bani Walid's council, Mubarak al-Fatamni, as saying that forces loyal to the new government were attacked on 23 January in a "barbaric manner" by members of the "remnants of the Gaddafi regime".
Mr Fatamni said pro-Gaddafi forces raised their green flag over the town for a short time on Monday afternoon, the Associated Press news agency reports.
Why briefly? They took their own flags right back down? Someone forced them to? Who? How?
But spokesmen for the prime minister and defence ministry have told the BBC the dispute is a local one.I'm sure it was local. The Greens live inside Libya and always have, and recently center themselves around a few places like Bani Walid. Is this an acknowledgement from Tripoli it wasn't one of their own brigades made up of mixed Libyans, Qatari, Irish, American, Canadian, and Australian foreign adventurers?
The government's claim, explained:
A source within the Libyan government, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the BBC the fighting broke out after a group of former rebel fighters, the 28 May Brigade, arrested one person.
The fighting was "more a clash between local people regarding a difference of who this [arrested] person was," the source said. "But of course now other people seem to be involved as well. The situation is not very clear who is who. It's still confused."
See, they know just what they're talking about. The Green Flags must have been imagined. All is under control in Libya, the fake-out takeover has still unquestionably won.
Update Jan. 25:
Anger, chaos but no revolt after Libya violence
Oliver Holmes, Reuters, Jan. 24
...a day after townsmen put to flight a force loyal to the Western-backed interim administration in Tripoli, elders in the desert city, once a bastion of support for Muammar Gaddafi, dismissed accusations they wanted to restore the late dictator's family to power or had any ambitions beyond their local area.But they kicked out the government. They insist on staying there, outside NTC control, but not as an obstacle. It seems they did take down any green flags that may have been (were) displayed on first conquest. It also seems it did start as a dispute over one arrest among the many they've been dealing with there.
"Allegations of pro-Gaddafi elements in Bani Walid, this is not true," said Miftah Jubarra, who was among dozens of leading citizens gathered at a local mosque to form a municipal council now that nominal representatives from the capital have fled.
"In the Libyan revolution, we have all become brothers," Jubarra told Reuters. "We will not be an obstacle to progress."
People in Bani Walid urged the NTC to keep back...
...those willing to talk to reporters insisted the violence was no revanchist putsch but was provoked by local abuses allegedly committed by The May 28th Brigade, a militia loyal to the NTC.The government response - military - was swift to set itself up and then wait.
"When men from Tripoli come into your house and harass women, what are we to do?" said Fati Hassan, a 28-year-old Bani Walid resident who described the men of May 28th as a mixture of local men and outsiders, former anti-Gaddafi rebels who had turned into oppressors when given control over the town.
"They were arresting people from the first day after liberation. People are still missing. I am a revolutionary and I have friends in The May 28th Brigade," said Hassan, who said he urged them to ease off. "The war is over now."
Jubarra, who sat at the meeting of elders, gave details of the incident which, he said, caused patience to snap among the people of the town.
"On Friday, the May 28th Brigade arrested a man from Bani Walid. After Bani Walid residents lodged a protest, he was finally released. But he had been tortured.
"This caused an argument that escalated to arms.
"Bani Walid fighters took over the 28th May camp, confiscated weapons and pushed them out of the city," Jubarra explained to the elders, who sat in silence around him, many of them wrapped in traditional white woollen blankets.
Residents heard warplanes overhead late on Monday as NTC forces hastily drove south from Tripoli to take up positions 50 km from Bani Walid. But those troops had, as yet, no orders to move on the town, where Gaddafi loyalists fought rebel forces to a standstill before negotiating a surrender in October.It's been like one day, and they're proud of the lack of "iron fist" activity that sounds eerily reminiscent of something Gaddafi, or any world leader faced with an insurgecy, would say. Time for humanitarian intervention? Better proof already that Tripoli is bombing people (jets overhead) than we ever had last year when Gaddafi was in charge.
Interior Minister Fawzi Abd al-All told a news conference in Tripoli would "strike with an iron fist" anyone who posed a threat to Libyan security - but he also said there would be no NTC move against Bani Walid until it was clear what happened.
I'm for calling this a local decision, perhaps assisted by a hidden green strike force. That could also be pure propaganda by the driven out May 28 ruffians, to ensure some "iron fist"revenge. But the sudden overwhelming strike by purely local (under occupation) fighting men takes a little explaining.
I imagine the NTC will demand authority back but will have to "acknowledge grievances," maybe charge someone, promise "reforms and oversight," maybe even "hold off until after elections" on implementing any of it (likely bumped back forward in short order). But then they'll get someone else in there who'll quietly show those little punks who's in charge - it ain't the Warfalla.
Reuters, via NYT
Libya on Wednesday recognized a government dominated by a powerful tribe in Bani Walid, a stronghold of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. The move occurred days after the tribe violently expelled pro-government forces and illustrated the power of tribal leaders over the fragile interim government. Salah al-Maayuf, a member of the Warfalla elders council in Bani Walid, said that on Tuesday, his body appointed a new local council that was recognized by the defense minister on Wednesday. The tribe long benefited from Colonel Qaddafi’s rule.
But the NTCis keeping its options open - militias from the Nafusah mountains are there to surround the town and "keep the peace," not to enter it, just yet.
BBC with video:
Russia Today Arabic video:
Gathered fighters loyal to the Transitional National Assembly in Libya at a checkpoint outside the Bani Walid on Tuesday after the pro-Muammar Gaddafi took control of the city and the green flag of the former regime.
Which is the largest operation since the formation of new government in Libya
Said Abdullah Mohammed, Chairman of the Board of Bani Walid military we are well equipped and highly trained