The Star in Libya: Libyan revolution on the verge of collapse | Pakistan Today

The Star in Libya: Libyan revolution on the verge of collapse

LAHORE – Forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi smashed through the last line of defence protecting the rebel capital of Benghazi Tuesday and now appear poised to crush the revolt as hope for international intervention wanes. Fleeing refugees confirmed the fall of Adjabiya, a strategic city that rebel leaders vowed just one day earlier would mark the bulwark of the revolution’s stand again Gaddafi, came in a matter of bullet strewn hours.
As nightfall approached, anxiety gripped Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city and the epicentre of the rebellion, as the population of 1.5 million grappled with the reality that weeks of grinding foreign diplomacy aimed to stemming the brutal Gaddafi counterstrikes will amount to too little, too late. “The rebels are melting away. Ajdabiya is gone,” a Libyan fighter told the Toronto Star by cellphone as gunfire raged in the background.
Libyan state TV, under control of the Gaddafi regime, announced that “Ajdabiya has been cleansed of mercenaries and terrorists.” A senior rebel spokeswoman denied that Ajdabiya was fully under the control of Gaddafi loyalists, saying some fighters inside the city were continuing to resist the regime’s advance. But Iman Boughaigas, speaking on behalf of revolution’s nascent political leadership in Benghazi, expressed despair that the eastern rebels now stood alone.
“It’s unbelievable what is happening at the international level. We mounted this fight to live under the values of the West – freedom, human rights and human dignity. And now we are alone,” Iman Boughaigis, spokeswoman for the rebel Provisional Transitional Council, told The Star. “But we will stand here in Benghazi to the end. We will live in dignity or we will die. There is no other choice,” she said. What happens next remains unclear, but no scenario looks even remotely promising for the buckling rebellion.
The Gaddafi brigades now control a crucial crossroads at Ajdabiya, with one desolate desert road stretching to the rebel-held city of Tobruk and the eastern border with Egypt and another running north to Benghazi. A siege of one of both cities now seems likely. Gaddafi loyalists now appear poised to reclaim control of the border itself, which has been unguarded since the uprising erupted one month ago.
For days, as the poorly armed rebel fighters retreated hundreds of kilometres in the face of Gaddafi’s overwhelming air- and groundfire, Libyans in Benghazi insisted they would fight to the death rather than cede their new-found freedom to Gaddafi. The fate of these people, many thousands of whom have gone public, sharing for the first time the deprivations of 42 years of life under Gaddafi, now is at the mercy of a regime that routinely describes them as “rats and vermin.”
Some activists wept openly Tuesday at the waterfront courthouse that has served as headquarters of the homegrown revolution. Others described in bitter terms the disappointment of their unanswered pleas for foreign intervention.

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