Via Michael Moynihan, you’ll know that total victory is at hand when a rebel soldier is filmed parading down main street in Tripoli in a looted pink muumuu. If the hat worn by the guy interviewed in the clip below looks familiar, it should; that was one of the prized items lifted today when they overran Qaddafi’s compound and started busting up statues of him, including that dopey one of a giant fist seizing an American fighter jet in mid-air. (The Daily Mail has photos.) The man himself is still at large and believed to be hiding somewhere in Tripoli, which raises the question of how much territory is still under the regime’s thumb. According to a WSJ report filed early this morning, before the compound was raided, maybe more than you think.
Advancing rebels said they haven’t attempted to enter or assert authority in several neighborhoods, including the historically pro-Gadhafi areas of Abu Salim and Hadba. Some of the fighters admitted they had little visibility on some areas of the city. “It’s pretty much a black spot right now,” said Mohamed Abu Sbeaa, a 21-year-old rebel fighter…
Rebels appear to have voluntarily pulled back from much of the territory they took almost as soon as they took it. The invading forces appeared to only control a slice of land leading from the western edge to near the city center. Rebels from inside the capital claimed to control a handful of other neighborhoods but these were difficult to reach as roads through the capital remained insecure.
With communication poor between various rebel units and neighborhood groups, it was difficult to know with certainty the status of many neighborhoods.
If Saif Qaddafi was able to cruise up to the Rixos Hotel last night and invite reporters to tour the city’s hottest battle spots with him, how much control of Tripoli could the rebels possibly have? (NATO, which had suspended its bombing campaign in hopes that the rebels could take it from here, is already preparing to resume its attacks.) On the other hand, if the guy below was capable of breaking into Qaddafi’s walk-in closet and walking out with a jaunty chapeau and scepter, how much control could the regime still possibly have? How’d you like to be a Tripoli resident right now trying to negotiate your way around the city, a different ruling power potentially on every block?