Whither Gaddafi and Libya?

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Tripoli.

The large gold framed portrait of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi that adorned the wall behind the reception desk of my hotel since it opened many years ago has vanished.  Also gone are the 72 green flags that flew on the white poles have also been removed.    It’s not polite to inquire of the skeleton staff about who removed these items because the act of removal could become very serious offenses depending on the final outcome here.  But, my friend Ismail, manning the front desk, just grinned at me when I commented on the hotels fine new mirror that hangs in the leader’s space.

Looking over the skyline of Tripoli at 7:30 a.m. 8/22/11 from the 26th floor of the Corinthia Hotel it seems that it’s just about over for the Qaddafi regime.

All night one heard in central Tripoli mainly celebratory gunfire from areas like the nearby newly renamed “Martyrs Square” (formerly ‘Green Square’) but so many questions are on most people minds this morning.  Some ask, Are the Qaddafi forces opening a trap for the rebel forces allowing them to come in quickly and easily and then when they are gathered in public celebrations and seek rest, counter attack?

The claim of the NTC representative this morning that the rebels control 95 per cent of Tripoli seems farfetched.  This is a very spread out city and its clear rebel forces are not deployed everywhere.

A column of 22 camouflaged painted military vehicles full of government fighters slowly passed by our hotel at 8:10 this morning and turned right into the seaside compound which includes the Bab al Bahar Hotel (“gate to the sea”), and on its edge, the unoccupied JW Marriott, from which witnesses said the sniper who shot me in my right leg yesterday morning was perched. My Dr. gave me the bullet as a souvenir and I will be fine although the damned thing hurts. An arriving Hotel worker just reported seeing government forces assembling in Tripoli’s neighborhoods over the past several hours.

On the other side of my hotel I can see rebel pickups filled with fighters and new tricolor Libyan flags driving very slowly towards Green (Martyr’s) Square.  I am thinking what would happen if they make a wrong turn.

Reports of Saif and Mohammad Qaddafi’s capture supports the idea that the government here wildly exaggerated its solid support and that the public largely believed them.  Already among the few staff and some kids who come early the jump the hotel fence and use the swimming pool, and their trademark chants of “Allah, Mohammad, Muammar, Libya wa bass” have ended their chants and now support for ousting “the leader” is widespread. Most hotel staff at my hotel appear crestfallen.

The outpouring of support for Qaddafi’s departure by the same crowds who seemed to adore him at Green Square the past five months I have been monitoring them is surprising but perhaps reveal why all powerful despots are often more form than substance and can collapse quickly under certain conditions.

The questions being asked here this morning by student friends include what happened to the resistance to NATO and its supported rebels, where are the “65,000 professional soldiers waiting to repel “NATO’s rebels” from entering Tripoli, mentioned just last night by Government spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, was there ever a real Libyan army of thousands ready to defend Tripoli, what will the transition be like, will there be tribal conflicts for power, will Libya have to pay for all the infrastructure damage, will NATO countries, given the widespread hostility to NATO killing  so many civilians be granted oil contracts, will the US get another military base (Wheelus was closed by Qaddafi on June 1970), will the new government recognize Israel as NATO  is said to be  demanding, will the National Transition Council fulfill its pledges for a just, quick transition with early elections, and on and on.

Yesterday morning, as I embarked on a bike tour of Tripoli, there were signs that something incongruous was happening. Security guards, normally about 20 outside the hotel were nowhere to be seen. Also, no staff came to work.  Ismail and the IT guy slept at the hotel—and the British lady “Miss Lorraine” who is in charge of hotel Hospitality lives at the hotel and was understandably and visibly upset.

As I left the hotel close to 7:30 a.m. by bicycle yesterday morning I was surprised to see one woman standing alone on the street in front of the hotel. I more surprised when she lite up with a broad smile as chimed “Hello Mr. Lamb!”

She is Marianne, who works with Lorraine somewhere in the bowels of this claimed “7 Star Hotel” I had spoken with her on the phone but we never met personally.  When I asked her why she was standing in the empty street,  she replied, “I need to find a ride to the port!”  That seemed odd, given what is happening here, so I asked her why.  “My two week vacation starts today and I need to get a boat to Malta”.  I was shocked, “Sweetheart, please, for sure there is no boat to Malta now and it’s dangerous for you to go to the Port.”  “But, my boyfriend is waiting for me in Malta” she wailed.  “Ok, but if you find a ride call my room and I will pay half and come with you to the Port”. Marianne agreed. I never saw her again.

The UN delegation left yesterday after their five day “fact finding mission.”  Not sure what facts they found because they mainly stayed in the hotel waiting and waiting, like most other foreigners here do, for a promised appointment with a government official or someone. Their leader, a stellar Palestinian lady from Nazarath in Occupied Palestine, convinced NATO to let some foreigners make use of empty UN planes seats so this hotel was essentially emptied of guests.

There has been no sign of Colonel Gaddafi. A strange calm has spread over Tripoli.

Franklin Lamb is in Tripoli.  He can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”