Feb 28 2011

Libyan Protesters Close in on Tripoli As Gaddafi Increasingly Isolated

Feature Stories | Published 28 Feb 2011, 10:42 am | Comments Off on Libyan Protesters Close in on Tripoli As Gaddafi Increasingly Isolated -

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LibyaAs the popular Libyan rebellion continues in full force, Al Jazeerah is reporting that anti-government protesters have taken control of the city of Az-Zawiyah, only 30 miles from the capital Tripoli. As a result, over the weekend a government-led tour of foreign journalists to Az-Zawiyah meant to demonstrate Muammar Gaddafi’s strength backfired. Now the battle could take an even more dangerous turn as protesters claim to have seized weapons and even tanks to defend themselves against Gaddafi’s forces. Gaddafi has claimed Tripoli as his base from which to retain control of the country. But even there, hundreds of protesters defied checkpoints, street patrols, and gunfire to march against the 40 year dictatorial rule. Meanwhile, the European Union has announced a series of sanctions on Libya, including a visa ban, and an arms embargo. They follow a unanimous vote for sanctions by the UN Security Council on Saturday. The Security Council also issued an order to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate the Gaddafi regime for possible crimes against humanity for its brutal and sustained violent response to protests in the country. Hundreds, and possibly thousands of Libyans have been killed in the past few weeks alone, most of them unarmed. The U.S., which under Bush had repaired historically tense ties with Libya, has also joined in the call for Gaddafi to step down. Secretary of State Clinton has begun reaching out to Libyan opposition groups. Meanwhile a plan for an interim government is taking shape. In Benghazi, leaders of opposition groups nominated Mustafa Mohamed Abd al-Jalil, a former Justice Minister, to head an interim government. Jalil, who resigned from his position in protest last week, promised that interim elections would be held in the next three months. Explaining the position of this temporary leadership and its goals, Jalil told Al Jazeera, “We want one country — there is no Islamic emirate or Al Qaeda anywhere. Our only goal is to liberate Libya from this regime and to allow the people to choose the government that they want.”

GUEST: Asma’a Aghliw, founder of freelibyatogether.com, elementary school teacher in Ottawa, who emigrated to Canada in 1987 from Libya. Asma’a’s parents, siblings, in laws and extended family are all currently living in Libya

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