Saturday 25 February 2017

Brave words of opposition fighters can't hide the reality that this war is being lost

Nick Meo

AS Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's tanks threatened to roll towards Benghazi and a dire warning was issued that the dictator would prevail in Libya's civil war, Hassan Hamada was preparing to pick up his gun and fight.

"I am ready to die," he said. "I would fight with our brave teenagers in the streets and so would every other man in this city if Gaddafi comes back here -- and so would the women and children as well."

Mr Hamada, like most of the rebels, has no military training but he certainly has a commanding presence that would be useful on the front line -- he is Benghazi's most senior judge.

The 67 year-old turned out for Friday's anti-regime demonstration with the rest of the city, wearing an immaculate suit and tie.

He mingled with youths in berets and battle fatigues and a squad of chanting revolutionary women in full veils.

Around 10,000 people brought their families to pray together and listen to stories of martyrdom and sacrifice from the battlefield, a two-hour fast drive to the south.

Together, they pledged their determination to carry on their fight for freedom no matter what. But in the past week the mood of elation has dimmed among the revolutionaries who bravely threw off the dictator's rule.

The regime has not crumbled in a wave of mutinies and defections as they expected. Instead, a newly confident Col Gaddafi has consolidated his power in the west around the capital Tripoli.

His troops have started to push back rebel fighters in the east, ending hopes of a march on Tripoli for now at least. They have also begun using rocket barrages and bombing raids that are killing and wounding what is essentially a ragtag army of untrained rebel civilians.

Last night, government troops were finally in full control of the oil port of Ras Lanuf after the rebels pulled back several miles eastward from the scene of intense fighting over the past week -- a symbolic victory for the Gaddafi forces, which the regime was quick to trumpet.

In Benghazi meanwhile, the political make-up of the revolution has started to become a little clearer.

A military council has been appointed and envoys have been sent to Europe seeking help. A National Council has been appointed -- professors figure prominently -- although its members spend much of their time in hiding because of the risk of assassination by Col Gaddafi's killers.

© Telegraph

Sunday Independent

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