23 February 2011

Present Situation in Libya

Thought this would be best explained with a map.

Everything East of the green line is now totally under the control of the anti-regime forces including the Libyan/Egyptian border. The Egyptian uprising has been essential as if Mubarak were still safe in charge it would have been closed but now people are coming over the border in both directions regularly and that's been a great help. The Egyptian village of Sallum just at the other side of the border is being used as a media centre as the internet has been cut off in Libya but Libyans are just going over to Sallum and using it there to spread information. Also supplies and medicine to the eastern cities is coming over from Egyptian volunteers constantly.

The city of Tobruk (the last major stop until Egypt) has been under the complete control of the anti-regime forces since Monday, it has a large military base and the army is on their side now. Darnah was taken by the anti-regime forces on Saturday-Sunday that's where Saif Al-Islam Al-Qathafi claimed there was a ruler of the Islamic Republic of Darnah or whatever. Al-Baydah however still seems to be under the control of forces loyal to Qathafi, the only city in the East the anti-regime forces haven't taken yet, although Al-Jazeera is reporting the military command of the province of Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar (Al-Baydah is its capital) has joined the anti-regime forces. There was a massacre of demonstrators in the city on Tuesday at least 40 people were killed by Qathafi's forces.

Benghazi is Libya's 2nd city, the heart of the uprising and has been under the complete control of the anti-regime forces for a week now. It has been bombed by Qathafi's airforce like in a war and there have been reports of battleships shelling it from the coast but this is unconfirmed.
Al Jawf is something of an isolated tribal town around an oasis otherwise in the middle of huge desert. The tribe there has joined the uprising and has helped secure the border with Egypt.

There is a push for Ras Lanuf going on right now and is just outside the anti-regime forces' territory. Ras Lanuf has some of the countries largest oil refineries. Surt is Qathafi's hometown and is a stronghold of the regime, there have been some demonstrations there and deaths but they seem to have been on a relatively small scale. Sabha is another stronghold of the regime but it and surrounding area's population is about 150,000 so it doesn't matter a great deal what happens there.

There are major clashes going on in Misuratah, Libya's third largest city. It had been relatively quiet until yesterday, reports that over a dozen people were killed by Qathafi's forces. Whether the momentum will continue has yet to be seen. It's difficult to know what's happening in Zuwarah, there have been larger anti-regime demonstrations there than in most of the western areas. There are reports in the last few hours that Qathafi has sent his airforce to bomb that city as well, don't know for sure what's happening though. There have definitely been explosions though.

And of course there's Tripoli Libya's capital. There hadn't been major demonstrations there at first the uprising really kicked off in Benghazi, but that has changed dramatically in the last few days. As of now Qathafi has lost control of about 30% of the city and is losing more territory by the day it seems though this could be reversed. Very serious clashes going on with about 100 martyred the last 36 hours alone.

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