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Democracy Now on the Battle for Tripoli and the Collapse of the Gaddafi Regime

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AMY GOODMAN : Before we go to break, Robin Waudo, last question about the--what the International Red Cross is prepared for. And in this uprising of the last months, half a year, what are the estimates of people killed and wounded?

ROBIN WAUDO : Wow, that is a very complicated question. It's difficult to say, because this conflict has been ongoing for the past six months, with at least three fronts that we know of, of the West Mountain, Brega, Misurata. It's difficult to speculate.

AMY GOODMAN : Well, I want to thank you for being with us, Robin Waudo, International Red Cross, speaking to us from the Libyan capital of Tripoli. We'll continue with Khaled Mattawa, as well as we'll be joined by others: Juan Cole, scholar from the University of Michigan, and we'll also be speaking with Human Rights Watch about what's been happening on the ground. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.




Khaled Mattawa, acclaimed Libyan poet and scholar, and an associate professor at the University of Michigan. He returned to Cairo last week after several weeks in Libya.
Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan. He has been following developments in Libya closely on his blog, "Informed Comment," online at His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World.
Fred Abrahams, special adviser for Human Rights Watch's program office, just returned from Libya last Thursday. He specializes in fact finding and advocacy in human rights crises and armed conflict.
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AMY GOODMAN : As we continue to talk about what's happening in Libya, the surprise entrance of rebel fighters into Tripoli, still there is fighting, no news on the whereabouts of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. His three sons are in custody. Khaled Mattawa is with us, an acclaimed Libyan poet and scholar, speaking to us from Egypt. He's an associate professor at the University of Michigan, just returned to Cairo from weeks in Libya. And speaking of the University of Michigan, we're also joined by his colleague, Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan. He's in Ann Arbor and has been following closely the developments in Libya at Among his latest posts, the "Top Ten Myths about the Libya War."

Juan Cole, the significance of what we're seeing right now?

JUAN COLE : We're seeing a revolution coming to its final phase. We're seeing yet another popular cascade. The reason for which the freedom fighters could enter the capital so easily--many of them just walked in or drove in and came relatively quickly to the center of the city--was because the city had already overthrown the regime. Beginning Saturday night, working-class districts rose up, in the hundreds of thousands, and just threw off the regime. So they softened up the situation for the fighters to come in. And we've seen this picture before. This is like what happened in Tunisia and Egypt towards the final phases of those regimes: the capital city throws hundreds of thousands of people into the downtown area to demand that the dictator depart.

AMY GOODMAN : Khaled Mattawa, can you talk about the significance of the sons being in custody right now and who exactly they are, [Saif al-Islam] wanted by the International Criminal Court, wanted by The Hague?

KHALED MATTAWA : Well, I want to say hi to my colleague Juan Cole in Ann Arbor, my other home town.

I mean, I know that Saif has been in custody, and also Muhammad. I'm not sure who the third son is. The differences between them, of course, is that Saif is the--sort of the architect of the, perhaps, the last 10 years. He had sort of envisioned a kind of an open Libya, began to talk about an open Libya. But it was very clear through the many people that worked with him--and, in fact, many of the leadership of the Transitional National Council had worked with him. Mahmoud Jibril had worked with him. Mustafa Abdul Jalil was minister of justice when the revolution started, Abdel Haviz Ghoga also. All of them had worked with Saif Gaddafi to see about the possibility of introducing a constitution, of changing the government. And, you know, his real name is Saif al-Islam, but people have called him Saif al-Ahlam. He's not the--he was the sword of dreams. He was really an unreliable figure. He never delivered on anything. And so, he--by stating so many, you know, false claims, he actually expedited the fall of his father's regime, and by solidifying opposition to it.

Muhammad is a businessman. He owns the two companies that are the cell phone companies in Libya. He owns many other businesses. He's a very rich man who capitalized on his position as his father's eldest, though he's not of the--the son of the wife in good standing. So he made money. He didn't get involved into politics. People may not hold a political grudge against him, but his money is ill-gotten.

Saif is also a very wealthy man. He's also wanted by the International Criminal Court, because he issued threats and participated directly in the policies that led to the death of people in Zawiyah and other cities that his father's troops and his brother's troops, that led the fighting, had killed. So, he's a war criminal.

Muhammad is--perhaps may be tried for enriching himself on the public wealth. I'm not sure who the third son. I hadn't heard--


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