Gaddafi forces maintain their hold on Tripoli

Feb 23, 2011

NPR is reporting that pro-Gaddafi forces are maintaining control of Tripoli as protests and violence continues:

"Thousands of people were fleeing Libya on Wednesday as forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi reportedly continued a crackdown on protesters in the capital. Rogue elements of the police and army aligned with the anti-government opposition appeared to be in firm control of parts of the east."

"The opposition reportedly seized control of Misurata, 125 miles east of the capital Tripoli, after days of fighting. Witnesses said people were honking their horns and raising flags representing the monarchy overthrown by Gadhafi more than 40 years ago."

"Misurata would be the first major city in western Libya to fall to anti-government forces, which claim — with the help of defecting security forces — to have taken control of nearly the entire eastern half of Libya's 1,000-mile Mediterranean coast, including several oil-producing areas."

University of Michigan associate professor Khaled Mattawa was interviewed by Democracy Now on Sunday about the ongoing protests in Libya.

"I understand that Benghazi is out of the Gaddafi regime’s control. I understand that the battle for Tripoli continues."

"Last night, I talked with one of my relatives who was near the city court building, and that’s where the protests were. That’s where the people gathered to make speeches and so forth. They were collecting weapons which had been left about in the clashes, and they were depositing them into the court building."

"The demonstrations were mostly by the seashore, in downtown Benghazi."

Mattawa goes on to discuss the ways in which the protests in Libya have affected his family as well as another Libyan writer. He also examines what may have been a galvanizing event in the Libyan protest, a brutal prison massacre perpetrated by the Gaddafi regime in which, according to eyewitness accounts, as many as 1200 people may have been killed.

Khaled Mattawa is an award-winning poet and scholar. The entire interview with him is available here.

For more news on the unrest in Libya, including defections by Libyan pilots and a claim that Gaddafi may have ordered the Lockerbie bombing, check out some of NPR’s ongoing coverage here.

 

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio News