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After the end of Gaddafi

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Reuters reports:

Muammar Gaddafi made his final dash for freedom shortly before dawn prayers. Libya’s leader, a few dozen loyal bodyguards and the head of his now non-existent army Abu Bakr Younis Jabr, broke out of the two-month siege of his hometown Sirte and, forming a convoy of six dozen vehicles, raced through the outskirts to the west.

They did not get far.

French aircraft struck military vehicles belonging to Gaddafi forces near Sirte at about 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT), said officials.

Images and then video footage of the drama that followed were soon whizzing around the globe: a blood-stained and shaken Muammar Gaddafi dragged by angry fighters cuts away before what could have been the inglorious end, leaving open the question of how exactly the dictator died.

Gaddafi was still alive when he was captured outside Sirte. In video, filmed by a bystander in the crowd, he is shown dazed and wounded being heaved off a bonnet of a Toyota pick-up, dragged toward a car, then pulled to the ground by his hair.

“Keep him alive, keep him alive!” someone shouts.

But another man in the crowd lets out a high-pitched hysterical scream. Gaddafi then goes out of view and gunshots ring out.

A Reuters witness who saw Gaddafi’s body in Misrata on Friday said it bore a bullet hole in the side of the head, as well as a large bruise on one side and scratch marks. But who fired the shot and when is still unclear.

The UK Telegraph reports:

13:05 Gerard Longuet, the Defence Minister of France, said in an interview that France would seek a leading role in post-war Libya. He argues that Libya’s new leaders “owe” Paris for leading the campaign to oust Moamer Gaddafi, report AFP.

France “will strive to play the role of a principal partner in the country where the leaders know they owe us a lot.”

AFP reports on the aftermath of NATO’s effort at regime change:

NATO ambassadors Friday discussed winding down the alliance’s seven-month air campaign in Libya following the death of Moamer Kadhafi and the fall of his last bastions, diplomats said.

“I will be recommending conclusion of this mission to the North Atlantic Council of NATO in a few hours,” Admiral James Stavridis, commander of US European Command, said on Facebook.

“An extraordinary 24 hours in Libya,” he added. “A good day for NATO. A great day for the people of Libya.”

A diplomat said that “for NATO, the essential military development to take into account is the fall of Sirte and not Kadhafi’s death, which was never an aim of the mission.”

The nations most involved in the war, including Britain and France, “do not want to rush but to halt the operation in orderly fashion”.

NATO could in consequence decide to maintain part of its naval and air capacity over the next two weeks “to ensure capability for intervention should the situation require”, a diplomatic source said.

The Wrap reports on the media coverage:

When the news of Moammar Gaddafi’s death broke on Thursday, it was no surprise which network was first witih a video of the bloodied dictator’s body dragged through the streets of Sirte: Al-Jazeera.

As revolutions and popular movements have spread across the Arab world for the greater part of a year, claiming governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya along the way, Al-Jazeera has invested heavily in covering those stories.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is already scoping out the future:

The vacuum created by Gaddafi’s departure is now filled by a sharp polarisation between two camps. The first camp is the National Transitional Council, made up largely of ex-ministers and prominent senior Gaddafi officials who had jumped from his ship as it began to sink. These enjoy the support of NATO and derive their power and influence from the backing of western nations. The second camp is composed of local political and military leaders who have played a decisive role in the liberation of the various Libyan cities from Gaddafi’s brigades, including the capital. The thousands of fighters and activists they command are now convened within local military councils, such as the Tripoli council, which was founded following the liberation of the capital and which recently elected as its head Abdulkarim Bel Haj. Ironically, this hero of Tripoli’s liberation is the same man who, a few years back, had been deported, along with other Libyan dissidents, by MI6 and the CIA to Gaddafi, who was their close ally at the time.

There could be no more striking indication of the rift between the two sides than the words of Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the council and ex-justice minister, on the eve of Tripoli’s conquest. Amid the jubilation and euphoria, a downbeat Abdul-Jalil emerged to warn that there exist “extremist fundamentalists within the ranks of the rebels” threatening to resign if they did not hand over their weapons.

Abdul-Jalil’s colleague, Ibrahim Chalgham, who still presides over the Libyan delegation to the UN and who had served as foreign minister under Gaddafi for years, criticised Bel Haj, dismissing him as “a mere preacher and not a military commander”, statements reiterated by NTC member Othman Ben Sassi, who said of the elected military council president, “He was nothing, nothing. He arrived at the last moment and organised some people”.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

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