Tag Archive: Libya

Rixos Free!

A group of around forty journalists, who were kept effectively hostage by Libyan forces at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli have been freed! At long last…

The tweets have been terrifying. Those of two reporters, Paul Danahar and Matthew Chance are listed below.

Paul Danahar – @pdanahar – BBC Middle East Bureau Chief

  • Written in carpark at #Rixos trying to evacuate #BBC team. Their guard pointed gun at me when got out of car said ‘get back #Libya#Tripoli
  • Deranged old man with AK47 waving gun at anyone who tries to leave. Other guard is young & seems willing to let them go #Tripoli#Libya
  •  Another car arrived but guards now furious pointed guns at him & he’s screeched off. Hacks forced back inside. #Libya#Tripoli
  • #heavy arms fire breaking out as I sit in #Rixos carpark trying with colleague to extract our team. Minutes passing v slow #Libya #Tripoli
  • 30 mins gone by. Fighting stopped for a bit. Chaos inside hotel as hacks try to persuade armed guards to let them out. #Tripoli #Libya
  • Now gunfire coming closer to hotel. Fear rebels are going to storm hotel with BBC inside & us in carpark. Our car armoured #Libya #Tripoli
  • Old man disarmed but one more guard inside. Fears of snipers on roof.
  • 2nd guard disarmed. Waiting.
  • They’re out we’ve got then #Tripoli #Libya
  • That is what happened at Rixos in last hour #Tripoli #Libya

Matthew Chance – @mchancecnn – CNN Senior International Correspondent

  • Here is timeline of events that have happened in the last hour at the #Rixos……
  • 330p local time: Negotiating with guards for our release. They said we can leave, but in small groups. #rixos
  • We are expecting the ICRC and Chinese embassy to send cars to pick us up. Fingers crossed. #rixos#rixos4
  • 4:00p local time: Pandemonium in lobby of hotel, all going back upstairs. Another anti- climax? #rixos
  • 410p local time: After a heart to heart with Arab speaking journos, two Gadhafi guards disarmed. #rixos
  • 415p local time: This feels like the end game in this dramatic and unpleasant situation. #rixos
  • Running across upper floors of hotel to find a flag with TV written on it. They want to put it on the car. #rixos
  • Getting flags with “TV” on them ready for when we are released. Which we hope is soon. #rixos
  • BBC cars arrives at #rixos, BBC crew is leaving the hotel.
  • 436pm local time: BBC has left the hotel
  • 437pm local time: ICRC cars have arrived at the hotel.
  • 438pm local time: Now pulling out of #rixos hotel after 6 days of a complete nightmare. Still dodgy situation
  • 439pm local time: Crammed with other journos in the car. Reuters, other cameramen, FOX, and AP #rixos
  • We have been holed up together for what seems like an eternity. We could finally get out freedom!!! #rixos
  • I can see the NTC rebels. We are nearly there!
  • #Rixos crisis ends. All journalists are out! #rixos
I highly recommend checking out both twitter streams, and going back over the last few days to get the full story.

Other developments!

  1. The National Transitional Council rebel leaders have announced that they will shortly move to Tripoli, to take command of the situation.
  2. A multi-million dollar bounty is being offered for the fugitive Muammar Gaddafi.
  3. A local businessman is offering $1.3 million to anyone who catches the former Libyan leader.
  4. Funds are being sent, both frozen assets and huge aid donations, by Britain, the US, EU…
  5. Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown, is not under rebel control.
  6. Nor is Sabha, a southern desert city. 95% of Libya is believed to be under rebel control.
  7. U.S. believes Gaddafi is still in Libya.
  8. Rebels have called on oil workers to help restart the oil facilities at Ras Lanuf and Brega.

Saif is Safe!

Saif al-Islam, Gaddafis’s son, the International Criminal Court wanted ex-LSE student, just showed up. In a distinctly un-arrested state. At the head of an armed convoy. Visiting the hotel where foreign jounalists are.being kept. Whoops, rebels.

Interestingly, he claims Qaddafi snr is safe, well and in Tripoli.

The plot thickens.

With Gaddafi’s death, capture or flight imminent, it is time to look beyond the rebellion, and forward to the post-Gaddafi future. How will the West react? What will happen in Libya?

If the rebels capture Gaddafi, he cannot be executed or dealt with internally. Gaddafi must be taken to the International Criminal Court. Saif, as he has already been captured, should be handed over as soon as possibly. This should be the only demand of the West, that he is tried for his crimes on an international stage. This, to my mind, is crucial to a country’s development into a modern, progressive, democracy.

We obviously cannot make material demands such as oil supplies. It is enough to have a stable, oil-producing ally. Already, oil prices have fallen by nearly $3 a barrel in expectation of the boost in production following a Western-ally in a stable Libya. We cannot make demands. We must allow Libya to rebuild on its own terms. We must, through the UN (with EU states taking a leading role), offer any support we can, developing a new society must be done on Libyan terms. The revolution was Libyan. So must creating a new Libya.

On that understanding, that the new Libya be created by new Libyans… we have to wonder what the master plan is?

The National Transitional Council, the recognised government by at least 30 other states, and largest organisation in the rebel movement, has released a 37-point interim ‘constitutional declaration’. Under their transitional plan, once Tripoli is stable, they would hold elections for a constitutional assembly within eight months. Then, said assembly would appoint a new interim government and draft a new constitution – this constitution would be subject to a national referendum, similar to in Egypt. Following this, we could hope for direct elections for government would take place within 20 months.

This seems to be a good plan. As long as it works. As long as everyone agrees. The first thing the NTC really needs to do is ensure that they are the dominant force in Libyan politics. Many groups are muttering dissent, and many are acting out of a desire to oppose Gaddafi… not install the NTC. There are huge tribal divides. The NTC needs to monitor all these possible fractures in Libyan society, to lead the country through to free and fair elections, and a new Libya.

Gaddafi, his regime and his children are all in a distinctly un-Saif position.

Apologies for the pun.

But it is true – Saif, Muhammad and Al-Saadi, Gaddafi’s three eldest sons have been captured….or is that arrested?

Now, there can be no doubt. The so called “rebels” of Libya are in a position of superiority, are the recognised government by at least 30 governments (including Egypt), and several embassies and ambassadors have defected to their side. They have becomes the legitimate power within Libya, and it is now Gaddafi who leads the underground opposition.

But where is he? As rebel forces have taken control of ~90% of Tripoli, Libya’s capital, including the central Green Square (now renamed Martyr’s Square), sightings of Gaddafi are often reported but he’s not been found yet. People have said he could be still in Tripoli, surrounded by the remains of his guards in the Bab al-Azizia compound. Or perhaps at Tajura-cardiac hospital. Or perhaps fleeing towards the Tunisian border. Who knows?

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Image via Wikipedia

Even just in the short space since last night, Operation Mermaid Dawn is in full swing.

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