South African President On Diplomatic Mission to Libya; NATO Shelling Intensifies

On Sunday, South African president Jacob Zuma is to make a peace mission to Tripoli, the capital of Libya. It is a “final shot” for diplomacy after Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev announced on Friday at the G-8 meeting that he was behind NATO’s demand for Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi to step down immediately, says the Guardian. But the mission is predicted by many to fail in which case, NATO air strikes will continue at an even more intense rate.

The Bab al-Aziziya compound was extensively damaged in 1986 when US planes, under Ronald Reagan’s orders, attacked the Qaddafi regime after Libya was blamed for the bombing of a German nightclub in which two US servicemen were killed.

On Saturday, — in a “clear sign of its increasing impatience with the regime,” as the Guardian puts it — NATO carried out a rare day-time air raid on Tripoli; explosions had heard throughout the night before. The BBC reports that British fighter planes had a struck the Bab al-Aziziya compound where Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi sometimes lives.

The Chief of Defence Staff’s spokesman, Major General John Lorimer, said on Saturday: “For decades, Col Gaddafi has hidden from the Libyan people behind these walls, spreading terror and crushing opposition.

“The massive compound has not just been his home but is also a major military barracks and headquarters and lies at the heart of his network of secret police and intelligence agencies.

“Last night’s action sends a powerful message to the regime’s leadership and to those involved in delivering Col Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians that they are no longer hidden away from the Libyan people behind high walls.”

A NATO spokesman said that Qaddafi was not a target of the attacks and was not in the compound at the time. In recent days, Libyan officials have complained that NATO is seeking to “assassinate” Qaddafi and that such attempts are illegal under the terms of the United Nations Security Council resolution that was adopted two months ago. Under that resolution, the UN approved a “no-fly” zone over Libya and also the use of “all necessary means” to protect Libyan civilians from attack by the Qaddafi forces. 

The New York Times has reported that Qaddafi has been seeking shelter at hospitals at night time, in response to NATO’s stepped-up air raids on Tripoli. NATO has carried out 2,600 bombing sorties over the past two months; these have recently “reached a new peak” in Tripoli “where 28 bunker-busting bombs” were dropped on Colonel Qaddafi’s compound early on Tuesday morning.

In a sign of growing weariness from the shelling, Libyan prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi called for a cease-fire at a news conference in Tripoli on Thursday. Such a cease-fire would, he said, be the prelude to talks involving Qaddafi’s government, the rebels and other Libyan groups, including tribal leaders. But he still insisted that Qaddafi would not step down from power. 

Nonetheless,at  the Sunday meeting in Tripoli, South African president Zuma’s message will be that Qaddafi must step down and that, if he refuses, NATO’s attacks will be the heaviest yet. The Guardian comments on why this offer is likely to be rejected:

For diplomats, the problem is not with Zuma’s negotiating skills, but with the fact that the message he conveys to Gaddafi offers no carrots, only sticks. Capitulation means he faces certain death if he stays in Libya. If he flees, any country willing to take him will shortly receive demands from the UN to hand him over to the International Criminal Court, whose judges are expected to issue an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity within weeks. The chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, has already called for one of his sons, Saif, to be indicted, and more charges against three more members of the regime are expected to follow later this year.

Under the UN resolution, NATO is prohibited from sending ground troops in Libya. So, in the event of Qaddafi still refusing to capitulate, the air strikes will continue, and the rebel forces will have to continue to battle Qaddafi’s forces:

The big question is whether the defenders will crumble under the onslaught, or fight with the same tenacity shown by their rebel enemy in Misrata. “If you use Apaches, it is sure they will run away,” said [Captain Ali] Mohammed [of Misrata]. “There is a big difference between Gaddafi’s men and ourselves. I am defending my home, my family, my city. But Gaddafi’s forces do not believe in what they are doing.”

On Thursday, the UK announced plans to send four Apache fighter jets to Libya, perhaps another sign that an end to the conflict in Libya is not yet going to happen.

CIA map (CIA World Factbook) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

32 comments

Chris P.
Chris P6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Bistra Staykova
6 years ago

All this unashamed barbaric shelling-it makes me very unhappy, I simply can't read about it...But there are wonderful comments,some of them made by Americans...they make me more optimistic about the future.Meanwhile the killing goes on...

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Vernon Huffman
Vernon Huffman6 years ago

Why are the US & NATO attacking Gaddafi? As President of the African Union and a member of the Arab League, he's been promoting a gold based currency to replace the US dollar & Euro in their transactions. His country has been a bad example by hosting banks which charge no interest, nationalizing oil, providing universal healthcare and free university education for all.

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Drivin Russell
6 years ago

In '10 Gaddifi infamously said that Europe should pay Africa $6.3B or he'll "turn Europe black!"

Now, SA President Jacob Zuma better wear LOTSA bulletproofing as there's GENOCIDE going on in Libya against Black Africans by Arab Muslims!

The RACIST Gaddafi & (especially) the Arabic Islamic rebels (MuBroHo, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, etc.) are TARGETING Black Africans, as these unfortunates are considered to be pro-Gaddafi mercenaries!

The Arab League & my President, Barack Obama, have said NOTHING to condemn this mass murder of these refugees (many Ethiopians) & migrant workers caught in the cross-fire!

It can only be ignorance that draws anyone, let along Black Americans, to Islam.

Once the foundational doctrines and the records (proudly maintained by Islamic historians and clerics) become known, utter revulsion for this debased ideology is the only decent human response!

Islam, that RACIST, HATE-BASED death-cult: FEEL the LOOOOOOOVE!

(Mo’-Mo’ said:) “Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds. We were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet. We are Allah’s helpers and the viziers of His Messenger....." - Tabari IX 69

In another Hadith, Mohammed is quoted as saying that Black Africans are, "pug-nosed slaves". (Sahih Moslem vol. 9, p. 46-47).

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Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago

Thank you Marilyn L., especially the US shouldn't be exempt from this!

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Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y6 years ago

The U.S. is not involved in this conflict. We are providing logistical support, but NATO is taking the lead. Turkey and other moderate Muslim countries, as well as the OAU (African Union) have called for Gaddafi to step down. So has long-time ally Russia.

He has ruled as an absolute tyrant, much worse than Mubarak, with a vast bureaucracy of informants, torturers, and thought police, kind of like Ahmedinijad in Iran. That has become much clearer with recent defections from the regime.

The Lybian people ARE fighting against him - who do you think is doing most of the dying? Rebels and innocent civilians. NATO only came in at the behest of the U.N. and the mayors of the major cities, who actually begged for foreign help in toppling Gadaffi saying it would save lives.

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James Morley
James Morley6 years ago

All you lovely Americans stop ranting about Gadaffi. You killed his daughter - well she was 8 or so, therefore of no account. How many Pakistanis blown up with drones. Frankly I must ask 'who the hell do you think you are?' Warrents from a court you do not recognise! Iran. Most of you think they are Arabs, and why atomic inspection, Israel refuses, and they are loaded with all kinds of weapons. Who does the warmonger Obama wish to murder next? I find you in general to be extraordinarily stupid, vengeful and repulsive.

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AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A6 years ago

Lets go and destroy what ever is standing, pretend to help the people and to bring democracy to the world. Make them dependent on AID and enslave them for centuries.

JOB WELL DONE ----- we are humanitarians (UK, USA, France and others)

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Eug F.
Eug F.6 years ago

On Saturday, -- in a "clear sign of its increasing impatience with the regime," as the Guardian puts it -- NATO carried out a rare day-time air raid on Tripoli; explosions had heard throughout the night before."

Almost 3000 sorties by NATO! Who do they think they are? Warmongers!! I wonder how many Libyans they have "saved"?

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Eug F.
Eug F.6 years ago

@ Huda. Enough of the hyperbole...to suggest that he's rule even if Libya was empty of people to rule is really pointless. If the Libyan people as so bent to overthrowing this man, why does NATO need to be involved? NATO wasnt needed in Egypt because such a large number of Egyptians were fed up with US backed Mubarck. It appears that its a small disgruntled group in Libya thats rebelling (between setting up a central bank and selling stolen oil to Qatar). I think its a safe bet when a population dicided they've had enough, they'll know what to do and will be successful at it. Libyans obviously havent reached that stage. Leave Libya alone.

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