There was no more stunning evidence of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi’s NATO-led fall from his 41-year-old seat of power than to see insurgents and Libyan citizens ransacking his compound at Bab al-Aziziya on Tuesday, riding in his golf cart, destroying images of him on posters and carrying away whatever they could of his personal possessions.
Even as insurgents overran his compound, there was still no sign of Gaddafi. Had he already fled to parts unknown or was he bunkered down somewhere amid his destroyed compound and barracks?
On Wednesday morning, from an undisclosed location, Gaddafi encouraged his loyalists to fight on to “victory of martyrdom,” a message consistent with his resolve not to leave his homeland.
For more than four decades Gaddafi had ruled Libya, but in fewer than seven months he has been toppled by the combine might of NATO and the relentless push of thousands of Libyans.
But as President Barack Obama warned on Monday, “This is not over yet.” In a stern statement, he urged Gaddafi to end the violence. “Although it is clear Gaddafi’s rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms,” Obama said from his vacation spot in Martha’s Vineyard.
There remain pockets of resistance in sections of Tripoli, including the area around the Rixos Hotel, where many journalists have been unable to leave for several days.
Obama went on to say, “NATO has once again proven it is the most capable alliance in the world, and its strength comes from its firepower and the strength of our democratic ideals.”
While Obama chose to lead from behind in the assault, U.S. pilots, drones and munitions played a crucial role in abetting the so-called rebels. Many of the more than 7,000 bombs dropped on Libya were made in America.
Moreover, Obama has been under constant siege by the GOP, with Sen. John McCain charging that the president took too long to act and that Gaddafi should have been subdued much earlier.
There has also been criticism from the left saying that Obama violated Resolution 1973 and the War Powers Act by engaging in a conflict without congressional approval. Also, some charge that NATO and the United States went well beyond the “humanitarian intervention” used as a pretext to launch the attack on Libya.
In an open letter to Dr. Jean Ping, chairperson of the African Union Commission, local activist Omowale Clay of the December 12th Movement declared, “Today, the enemies of Africa are taking militant actions against us. They ignore with contempt any arguments to preserve African life and sovereignty that do not align with their interests.”
Clay added, “On Monday, the president of the United States stated, ‘The Libyan intervention demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one.’ The international community for which he speaks does not include us.”
With Gaddafi all but finished, the question raised around the globe is, what happens next in the oil-rich country of Libya with its $40 to 50 billion in annual revenues? At one time before the conflict, the country was producing 1.6 million barrels of oil a day.
“If the Pentagon, CIA and Wall Street succeed in installing a client regime in Tripoli, it will accelerate and embolden the imperialist threats and intervention against other independent governments such as Syria and Venezuela,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. “In each case, we will see a similar process unfold, including the demonization of the leadership of the targeted countries so as to silence or mute a militant antiwar response to the aggression of the war makers.”
Speculations abound as to the whereabouts of Gaddafi, and given his generosity with various nations and political movements, there are a host of accommodations he can choose from, including Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez is a loyal supporter.
“Today, they dropped I don’t know how many bombs, and they’re falling in a shameless and open way…on schools, hospitals, homes, work places, factories [and] farm fields at this very moment,” said Chavez, who is battling cancer, in a recent statement to the press. “It’s the excuse to intervene and seize a country and its riches.”