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Vol. 75/No. 31      September 5, 2011

Rebel forces take Tripoli
in Libyan civil war
(front page)
Rebel forces have taken control of most of Libya’s capital city of Tripoli as the Militant goes to press, ending nearly 42 years of the tyrannical regime of Moammar Gadhafi. Backed by thousands of other opponents of Gadhafi’s government, armed rebels stormed his fortress compound in the center of the city, holding most of it after a fierce, daylong battle, according to press accounts.

Since February Gadhafi’s bourgeois regime has brutally sought to crush a popular uprising and defeat rebel forces in a six-month-long civil war. Taking advantage of the situation to further imperialist economic and political interests in the region, governments led by Washington, London, and Paris launched a military assault on Libya in March with the aim of replacing Gadhafi with a government more to their liking. Planes under NATO command had conducted some 7,500 airstrikes as of August 20.

Opposition forces that day took the key oil refinery town of Zawiyah, some 30 miles west of Tripoli. They then rapidly moved toward the capital, meeting virtually no resistance and capturing a base on the edge of the city of one of Gadhafi’s top military units. More than 300 prisoners were freed, reported Al Arabiya.

Mahmoud al-Ghwei, 20, joined the rebel convoy on its way to the capital. “Now we’re going to get rid of Gadhafi and get our freedom,” he told Al Arabiya. In the industrial suburb of Tajoura, residents set up a field hospital and joined others, arms in hand, to beat back assaults by Gadhafi loyalists, the Wall Street Journal and wire services reported.

Rebel fighters swept into Tripoli August 21, holding a rally in Green Square, where daily pro-Gadhafi rallies had been staged. “Jubilant residents honked horns, set off fireworks and stomped on posters of Gadhafi,” reported the Washington Post. The next day government forces struck back in parts of the city but suffered a decisive blow when Gadhafi’s compound was largely taken.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the opposition Transitional National Council based in Benghazi in eastern Libya, has said the council is ready to take control. He, like some other council members, was part of Gadhafi’s government until breaking earlier this year. The council has supported the massive NATO air assaults, collaborating with French and British special forces and CIA operatives on the ground to organize the attacks.

NATO stepped up bombardments in and around Tripoli, hitting 22 targets August 20, with assistance of six armed U.S. Predator drones, reported the Post. According to Pentagon figures, Washington—which since April has organized key military support but left most airstrikes to London and Paris—nearly doubled air attacks on Libya August 11-22, compared to sortie strikes the previous four months.

According to the New York Times, an unnamed senior U.S. military officer said that “small teams of American military and other government weapons experts” are making “contingency plans” to enter Libya to take control of “weapons stockpiles.”

“An international force … is likely to be needed for some time to restore and maintain order,” wrote Richard Haas, president of the Council of Foreign Relations, in the August 22 Financial Times. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has called for a special meeting of the Contact Group on Libya—led by the imperialist governments conducting the airstrikes—to discuss their next steps.
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