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February 2, 2023

Showdown for Libyan control reaches boiling point in Tripoli

NATO, EU urged Gaddafi to go. Russia warned against “euphoria”, says Moscow will no offer sanctuary to the Libyan leader, while China says it will co-operate with whatever government the people chooses.

TRIPOLI – Heavy fighting was taking place in Tripoli around the compound of embattled Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi on Monday after rebels seized control of much of the city on Sunday, the BBC informs. Throughout the night, jubilant crowds remained in central Green Square, previously the scene of nightly pro-Gaddafi demonstrations. Rebels met little resistance as they swept in from east, south and west. A rebel spokesman says pro-Gaddafi forces still control 15-20 percent of Tripoli.

“A great majority of the capital of Tripoli is under freedom fighters’ control,” said Guma El-Gamaty, the Britain-based coordinator for the rebels’ Transitional National Council, the CNN informs. But Gadhafi’s regime remained in control of at least three parts of the city – a hospital, a military barracks and the Rixos hotel, where international journalists are staying, El-Gamaty said.  Gadhafi’s forces in Tajoura, where the hospital is located, were negotiating their surrender Monday morning, said Jumma Ibrahim, a rebel military spokesman. And rebel fighters clashed with Gadhafi forces near the Rixos Hotel, one of the remaining Gadhafi strongholds in Tripoli, said CNN’s Matthew Chance, who is at the hotel.

Confident that victory was close, the rebel government began making plans to govern. El-Gamaty told CNN that it will take 18 to 20 months to create a political framework for a new Libyan government. A man identified as Mohammed Gadhafi told Al Jazeera during a live telephone interview early Monday that rebels had entered his home. “I’m being attacked right now. This is gunfire inside my house. They are inside my house,” he told Al Jazeera. As for the other four sons, El-Gamaty said, “we think they are either hiding or they have run away.”

The fate of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi – an outspoken defender of his father’s regime – could lie in the hands of the International Criminal Court. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the court plans to begin negotiating Monday for his transfer to The Netherlands. Saif al-Islam is wanted for crimes against humanity, along with his father and the elder Gadhafi’s intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Sanussi.

On Sunday, Gadhafi took to the airwaves several times urging citizens, including women, to fight the rebels – whom he called “very small groups of people who are collaborators with the imperialists.” “Get out and lead, lead, lead the people to paradise,” he said.

International reactions

Western leaders have welcomed the rebel advance and urged Col Gaddafi to go. China has said it will co-operate with whatever government the Libyan people choose. Russian officials warned against “euphoria” on the approaching end of the regime of Gaddafi, saying his ouster would not end the country’s political crisis, DPA reported.

“The revolutionary experience teaches that it is difficult for those who conquer to hold power,” said Mikhail Margelov, special representative to Libya for the Russian president.

Russia will “under no circumstances” provide Gaddafi sanctuary, he said.

NATO Secretary-General An­ders Fogh Rasmussen said the Ga­dhafi regime is “clearly crumbling.”

U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday night the momentum against Gadhafi’s regime has reached a tipping point. “Tonight, the momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant”, he said.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who is cutting short his holiday to chair a meeting of the National Security Council, said it was clear “that the end is near for Gaddafi”. France, Germany and Italy have renewed their calls for Gaddafi to step down. Nicolas Sarkozy has branded Gaddafi “criminal and cynical” for trying to cling to power despite the apparent collapse of his regime. The Libyan leader’s end is “inevitable and close”, he said.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: “The only route that Gaddafi should follow is that of giving himself up”.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is in its “last mo­ments” and Gaddafi should go to avoid more bloodshed, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

Thee Arab League says it is in “full solidarity” with the rebel leadership.

Oil prices decline

Oil prices have fallen on hopes the conflict in Libya may be nearing an end after rebels took the capital Tripoli. According to the BBC, brent crude futures fell 1.8 percent to USD 106.7 a barrel, while US sweet, light crude was steady at USD 82.9 in morning trading. Italian oil firm ENI – the most active foreign company in Libya prior to the civil war – jumped 5 percent, while France’s Total rose 3.5 percent, and BP and Shell climbed 2.3 percent each. Oil engineering firms also received a boost from strong financial results announced by Petrofac. The UK firm rose 3.6 percent, while French rival Technip jumped 3 percent. Markets are hoping that an end to the conflict in Libya will see the country’s oil exports restored, increasing global supplies. Libya is the world’s 12th-largest oil exporter.

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