Americans finally depart Libya as rebels prepare to fight for Tripoli

The situation in Libya may well explode today, as rebels and sympathizers have called to coordinate demonstrations in Tripoli with Friday prayers. Overnight, the city erupted in violence, resulting in chaos and serious doubt as to whether dictator Moammar Gaddafi remained in control at all. His cousin became the latest high-ranking official to defect from the regime:

In the meantime, violence blanketed the capitol Tripoli Thursday night, as the walls of Gadhafi’s stronghold and regime appear to be caving in.

Anti-government forces attacked two nearby cities and protesters were in full control of eastern Libya. …

Across Libya, support for Gadhafi has quickly dissipating with officials from his inner circle defecting, including one of his closest aides, his own cousin.

Mark Knoller tweeted earlier today that the 300 Americans stuck in Libya have finally gotten onto a ferry bound for Malta, according to State. Despite China’s success in evacuating more than 4500 of its nationals this week, the US had delayed its own evacuation for days due to high seas in the Mediterranean. The inability to withdraw Americans from Libya contributed in part to the slow response from the US on the crisis in Libya, although clearly that has not been the only factor.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi has decided to try throwing some cash at Libyans to cool their revolutionary ardor:

Meanwhile, Libyan state television said Moammar Gadhafi’s government was raising wages, increasing food subsidies and ordering special allowances for all families, in its first practical attempt to win the support of citizens since the uprising began.

Each family will receive 500 Libyan dinars ($400) to help cover increased food costs, and wages for some categories of public sector workers will increase by 150 percent, the television station said.

The concessions came as social media sites called for for mass demonstrations in Tripoli after Friday prayers.

At the rate that Gaddafi and his mercenaries are reportedly killing Libyans, such pay raises might not even cost Gaddafi any more overall money.  It’s unlikely that the extra cash would satisfy the demands of Libyans to send Gaddafi packing — or worse — but it costs him nothing to make the offer to see whether it would work.

Meanwhile, the UN is still debating whether to throw Libya off of the Human Rights Council:

The United Nations Human Rights Council will convene a special session today to investigate reports of mass killings during Libyan protests, as anti-government forces continue to battle Moammar Gadhafi’s mercenaries.

The council will consider whether to strip Libya of membership, which would send a signal to other leaders that a violent crackdown on a country’s own citizens is intolerable.

If it seems funny to schedule a debate on whether to throw a tyrant who’s currently engaged in opening fire on his own people off of a human rights council, just remember that some of the nations deciding that question will be Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and the same China that did exactly the same thing in Tienanman Square more than 20 years ago.  The better question is why Libya, with its decades-long track record of terrorism, was allowed on the council in the first place, or for that matter, why any of these nations still sit on the panel.

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 07, 2022