Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gaddafi firms grip, prepares to retake rebellious Cyrenaica

Gaddafi succeeded Wednesday, Feb. 23, in clearing the streets of Tripoli and southern and western Libya of demonstrations against his rule – partly by threats and partly thanks to American and European Union failure to put up a military or diplomatic strategy for cutting him down. For now, he has firmed up his control of those parts of the country.

The US State Department was reportedly "looking at" possible sanctions against the regime, but there were no specifics, and EU officials also decided on sanctions in principle but omitted to set a date for their enforcement.

Once again, outbreaks of violence and military mutinies were widely reported but not independently corroborated, except for desertions on a small scale. Libyan officials invited a group of European diplomats serving in Tripoli on a tour of the sites alleged to have been bombed by Libyan war planes to see for themselves if it was true.

The picture described by travelers flying out of Tripoli's international airport Wednesday was one of tense calm in the cities they passed on their way out, as well as an unusual number of military and security checkpoints where soldiers screened them for weapons.