A victim of Gaddafi's siege being rushed to a hospital or triage clinic, a daily scene in Misrata (source)
The ongoing carnage in the Libyan city of Misrata, which serves as the lone major population center not under Gaddafi's control in the West, has by now become a lose/lose albatross around the neck of Colonel Gaddafi. His hopes of blitzkrieging the port city have long since disappeared as Misrata has become not a Maginot Line, but a Stalingrad or Grozny. Rebels, despite their material disadvantages, have fought back ferociously to check outright capture of the city, so now Gaddafi is expending money, troops and tanks in an increasingly futile assault that is also serving as a huge PR disaster for him. The ongoing images and stories of dead and maimed civilians, heightened by the deaths of two famed photojournalists, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, are increasing international condemnation daily, so it is not surprising that his regime has now announced that its army will "pull out" of Misrata and let "the tribes" handle the situation. Or has it? The devil is always in the fine print, and fine verbage.
Gaddafi is known to say one thing and do another, his rhetoric often serving as a tactical feint or simple propaganda, so only time will tell what he means. To let the "tribes" handle Misrata as the article states below, could that be like letting the Janjaweed handle Darfur, sending in paramilitaries who specialize in violent obscenities and then blaming criminal acts ordered by Gaddafi on them instead of the army? Are we going to see some two-card Monte now?
Or has Misrata simply become, like the city of Tombstone, Arizona in the old cowboy Westerns, "the town too tough to die", and is finally being acknowledged thus by Gaddafi as he looks for ways to withdraw his army while saving face. Difficult to say.
Khaled Kaim, Libya's deputy foreign minister, has said that pro-government forces will withdraw from Misurata, leaving the tribes to deal with the rebels.
"The situation in Misurata will be dealt with by the tribes around Misurata and Misurata's residents and not by the Libyan army," Kaim told journalists late on Friday.
"We will leave the tribes around Misrata and Misrata's people to deal with the situation, either using force or negotiation."
Kaim said the Libyan army had been given an "ultimatum" to stop the rebellion in the western city, 200km east of the capital Tripoli.
"There was an ultimatum to the Libyan army: if they cannot solve the problem in Misurata, then the people from (the neighbouring towns of) Zliten, Tarhuna, Bani Walid and Tawargha will move in and they will talk to the rebels. If they don't surrender, then they will engage them in a fight."
Kaim's announcement is a turning point for the besieged city, which has come under heavy fire from forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Hours after the announcement of a shift in tactics in Misurata by forces of leader Muammar Gaddafi, NATO bombs struck what appeared to be a bunker near his compound in central Tripoli. (For the full article, CLICK HERE)