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

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Most of Amy Goodman's Monday, August 22, 2011  Democracy Now broadcast was devoted to news and discussion on the dramatic events in Tripoli and the end of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, including interviews with Robin Waudo, an International Red Cross spokesperson in Tripoli, Khaled Mattawa, an acclaimed Libyan poet and scholar who just returned from Libya, Fred Abrahams, a special adviser for Human Rights Watch, who just returned from Libya last Thursday, and with Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan who has been following developments in Libya closely. You can watch them in the two YouTubevideo segments below or CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE to access them on Democracy Now , with the publicly transcripts of each following:

1st Segment : After a lightning fast advance by opposition fighters who poured into Tripoli with surprising ease, much of the city appears to be under rebel control, although heavy fighting is underway in many areas. Al Jazeera reports that clashes are continuing in the capital, with the rebels facing off with tanks near Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi's compound. Three of Gaddafi's sons have reportedly been taken into rebel custody, and the presidential guard has surrendered. We go to Tripoli for an update from Robin Waudo, an International Red Cross spokesperson, who is part of a small team able to come to their office amid fighting and distribute medical aid for as many as 5,000 people who have reportedly been wounded.

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2nd Segment : As rebels fight for control of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, President Obama and other world leaders have called on Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi to step down. On Sunday, the United States officially recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. Meanwhile, the whereabouts of Gaddafi remain unknown, but three of his sons are in rebel custody. Libya's rebel chief, Mahmoud Jibril, issued a statement to Libyans in the early hours of Monday asking fighters to treat Gaddafi loyalists with dignity and respect. We are joined in Cairo by Khaled Mattawa, an acclaimed Libyan poet and scholar who just returned from Libya. We also speak with Fred Abrahams, a special adviser for Human Rights Watch, who just returned from Libya last Thursday, and with Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan who has been following developments in Libya closely on his blog, "Informed Comment" at JuanCole.com. "Libya has reignited the flame of liberty in the Arab world," says Juan Cole.

 

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Public Rush Transcripts:

1ST SEGMENT:

Guests:

Robin Waudo, International Red Cross spokesman in Tripoli, Libya.
Khaled Mattawa, acclaimed Libyan poet and scholar who just returned from Libya.
Rush TranscriptRelated Links

AMY GOODMAN : As we go to air, reports are still coming in on the status of the capital of Libya. After a lightning advance by rebel fighters who poured into Tripoli with surprising ease, much of the capital appears to be under rebel control, although heavy fighting is under way in many areas. Al Jazeera reports clashes are continuing in Tripoli with the rebels pushing towards Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's compound but facing resistance. Reuters reports forces to Gaddafi in Tripoli have stationed tanks near his compound. Meanwhile, 40 international journalists are now trapped in the Rixos Hotel, according to several media reports.

The whereabouts of the longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi remain unknown. President Obama and other world leaders have called on him to step down. In a statement issued after the rebels arrived in Tripoli, Obama said, quote, "The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize [that] their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all." Obama said the U.S. recognizes the Transitional National Council, or TNC , as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.

People around the world were glued to Al Jazeera last night as the network broadcast images from Tripoli, where euphoric residents celebrated in Green Square, the symbolic heart of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime, which is now being renamed Martyrs' Square. This is correspondent Zeina Khodr reporting last night from Martyrs' Square for Al Jazeera.

ZEINA KHODR : We are in Green Square, the city center of Tripoli. And as you can see behind me, celebrations are taking place. There is a party in the Libyan capital tonight, and the people of Libya are now in charge of their capital. In fact, they've already decided that this square will no longer be known as the Green Square, a name that was given by Muammar Gaddafi. It is now called Martyrs' Square, the original name. There's a feeling of euphoria here. People are shouting, "We are free! Muammar Gaddafi has gone!" They're even shooting at his poster. A lot of celebratory gunfire. This city is now in the hands of the opposition. There are still some pockets where Gaddafi forces are, and people here are worried about sleeper cells. But they are confident the capital now belongs to them.

AMY GOODMAN : That was Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reporting from Green Square, which is being renamed its original name, Martyrs' Square.

The two eldest sons of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are in rebel custody, but questions remain about the whereabouts of other senior officials and whether the rebels will hand over any prisoners to the International Criminal Court. Gaddafi's second son, Saif al-Islam, was detained by rebels Sunday night, according to Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the head of the National Transitional Council. A spokesman for the International Criminal Court has confirmed the arrest. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam in June on charges of crimes against humanity. The court described him as Libya's de facto prime minister and accused him of recruiting the foreign mercenaries which reportedly attacked protesters during Libya's six-month uprising. Muammar Gaddafi's eldest son Muhammad was also detained by rebels on Sunday night.

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