BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!

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This morning, PST, the tweets started coming in indicating that Bab Al Azizyah, Qaddafi's heavily fortified compound in the heart of Tripoli has been taken by the freedom fighters. Although this is not the end, It is a major breakthrough. THE END IS NEAR!

Photo: Freedom Fighter in Bab Al-Aziya compound, standing on golden fist.
Here is a map showing the current battle lines for Libya and Tripoli.

Here is the CNN live blog report on the breeching of the compound:

Live blog: Rebels say they have taken Gadhafi compound

[Updated 12:12 a.m. ET, 6:12 p.m. in Libya] An historic building inside Moammar Gadhafi's vast Bab al-Aziziya compound has been burned and the fighting at the compound is over, a Libyan rebel told CNN's Sara Sidner.

Sky News showed video they said was from inside the compound. In the video, rebel forces surrounding the iconic sculpture of a raised fist crushing a U.S. plane in Gadhafi's compound.

[Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, 6:02 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner said rebels told her the "fight is finished" at Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound.

“They could even swim in the swimming pool” Sidner said rebels told her.

Rebels said the blasts being heard are celebratory.

[Updated 11:58 a.m. ET, 5:58 p.m. in Libya] An Al Jazeera reporter inside Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza reported there is no resistance anymore inside the compound.

[Updated 11:45 a.m. ET, 5:45 p.m. in Libya] People in Tripoli are displaying files they say are from Moammar Gadhafi's compound, CNN's Sara Sidner reported Tuesday.

The documents, files and receipts have the official regime stamp and Gadhafi's name on it, Sidner reported.

"This neighborhood has gone wild," Sidner said.

Sidner is being handed even more documents by the rebels.

Rebels told Sidner they are going room-by-room to clear the compound.

One of the documents is a medical file that has the name of Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam, Sidner reported.

[Updated 11:39 a.m. ET, 5:39 p.m. in Libya] Rebels are saying they have made it into Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound, CNN's Sara Sidner reported.

"They have been able to take some of the weapons off of the Gadhafi forces," she said.

Rebels are telling Sidner "Gadhafi is nearly finished."

Sidner said that rebels said they are still inside trying to secure the area, but are celebrating as fighting continues.

“Now they’re going to try and clear the compound," Sidner said rebels told her.

Sidner said that she is less than half a kilometer from the compound and can see more smoke coming from the area.

Sidner said rebels are hugging each other and crying on the streets. Loud chants can be heard in the background.

Rebels shouted "God is great, God is great" in celebration Tuesday.

[Updated 11:32 a.m. ET, 5:32 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner, reporting from a neighborhood close to Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound, said there are "massive blasts and lots of gunfire" in the area.

"We have confirmed a civilian that has been hit by sniper fire according to a nurse" at the local clinic, Sidner reported.

This is a dangerous place to be," she added.

And here are some of the tweets:

Alarabya Breaking: sources say independence flag has been raised on Gaddfi's house #Tripoli #Libya via @feb17voices

ShababLibya LibyanYouthMovement
It is now the end-The only thing left for #Gaddafi to do is run. Our brave #FreedomFighters have control of his compound. #Libya #tripoli

@acarvin: Wonder how soon it'll be before we see Gaddafi compound loot/memorabilia on eBay. #libya

alchemist585: So now we have just two areas that are still under occupation by the forces of evil:
Hathba الهضبة
Busleem بوسليم

Odd Bits...

This is a great video that eloquently answers the question "Who are Rebels?" The short story is that they are the Libyan working class united in armed struggle against a monarchy. They prefer to be called freedom fighters BTW.

This is an interesting article about the role the Internet is playing in the battle for Tripoli:

How tweets and texts helped the rebels take Tripoli

Libyans are free to text, call and blog again after a long telecommunications blackout, in a powerful symbol of how the rebels are ringing the changes.

Libyan rebel sympathisers in Tripoli used Twitter and Facebook to give anti-Gaddafi forces the map co-ordinates of pro-Government snipers and heavy artillery as the battle for the capital unfolded.

The episode demonstrates how important an issue the control of new media has been in the battle for Libya, with the rebels apparently making a concerted effort to wrest control of mobile phone and Internet resources before attempting to attack the state television station’s Tripoli headquarters.

Members of the Free Generation Movement, a dissident group who have been making secret broadcasts and podcasts from inside Tripoli throughout the six-month uprising, posted the map references of places where they said loyalist gunmen were holding out as the rebels swept into the city on Sunday.

One typical Facebook message, posted on Sunday, said: “Snipers on rooftop of tallest building at junction of Jraba Street and Ras Ahsan. Coordinates to the Location of Snipers in Benashour 32°52’12.28″N 13°12’22.36″ E”.

The rebel sympathisers appeared to take advantage of a window of opportunity after internet access was unexpectedly restored in Tripoli late on Sunday.

By Monday the website of the state-controlled service provider Libyan Telecom and Technology (LTT) was carrying a message in Arabic that read: “God is great ….We congratulate the Libyan people on the fall of oppression and tyranny, and we urge the people to celebrate and preserve public property. Libya one tribe.”

Here is another piece from today about technology and the war:

Special report: In Libya, the cellphone as weapon

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo made an appeal in February for "footage and images to confirm the alleged crimes", after the United Nations Security Council referred the Libyan uprising to the court. A court filing applying for arrest warrants listed video evidence, mainly from media, but also from unspecified sources, in support of its claim.

In the Mediterranean city of Misrata, in particular, a group of rebel-allied lawyers has worked to gather evidence of what it calls war crimes committed by Gaddafi forces.

"In the beginning when there were snipers we had to move around carefully," said Omar Abulifa, a former prosecutor and head of the Misrata-based Human Rights Activists Association. "It was hard to get the evidence, but we did what we could."

As the rebels gained control of more of the city in April and May, the association set up a system to gather evidence after every incident, especially the continued bombardment of the city with Grad rockets by Gaddafi loyalists, which killed and injured many civilians. The footage they gathered includes videos taken from the cellphones of rebel fighters and from those of government troops captured or killed during the fighting. Other video and photographs came from citizens of the town.

Some of that film can be used as evidence, Abulifa says. "But not all of it because to be used as evidence it has to be from a trusted source and it has to be clear what is happening."

Around 150 gigabytes of video gathered by the city's media committee, which was set up after the uprising, has been provided to the association. A member of the committee gave a Reuters reporter who was in Misrata in July a large volume of that material.

So much material has been gathered in this war that I see a massive database project in the future. Eventually there can be a timeline and a map were you can see every battle and every incident from multiple views because everything has been recorded by multiple cameras.

In the comments to my diary yesterday, Carl Davidson questioned why my position on Libya is different from Iraq. My answer ended up being very long and detailed and also made use of Juan Cole's excellent blog yesterday, which I had already decided to highlight in my dairy today, so rather than let all those words get lost in the comments, I have elected to repeat them here:

I think generallies have a very limited usefulness and 'generally' each situation has to be evaluated on it's own merits.

For example WW1 & WW2 were in many respects the same, imperialist wars between 'great powers' to divide up the world. However I think it was absolutely right for the class-conscience US worker to opposed US intervention in WW1 and support US intervention for WW2. I will save my explanation of those choices for another time. Would you have opposed intervention in both? Some socialists opposed Lend-Lease saying "Roosevelt needs its dictatorial powers to further his aim of carving out of a warring world, the American Empire so long desired by the Wall Street money lords." Would you have been one of those?

Now what was the War on Iraq? IMHO it was an imperialist war for the control of oil and the domination that goes with it. It had been more than a decade in the planning with the '91 Gulf pre-war and 10 years of sanctions. It was not shaped by any uprising and revolution among the Iraq people [unless I slept thru that part]. US aircraft dropped over 29 thousand munitions in the first 30 days and over a hundred thousand ground troops went in at the same time.

Now what is the "War on Libya", as you and the other anti-interventionist like to call it? Is it a "remake" of the War on Iraq, as you would have us believe? Well US aircraft hit a total of 132 targets in the first 100 days, and no ground troops. So as wars go, not in the same class at all.

And what prompt it? Just another grab for oil as the anti-interventionist would have you believe?

In terms of the "another war for oil thesis" Juan Cole has eloquently answered that it his blog today Top Ten Myths about the Libya War which I highly recommend:

10. This was a war for Libya’s oil. That is daft. Libya was already integrated into the international oil markets, and had done billions of deals with BP, ENI, etc., etc. None of those companies would have wanted to endanger their contracts by getting rid of the ruler who had signed them. They had often already had the trauma of having to compete for post-war Iraqi contracts, a process in which many did less well than they would have liked. ENI’s profits were hurt by the Libyan revolution, as were those of Total SA. and Repsol. Moreover, taking Libyan oil off the market through a NATO military intervention could have been foreseen to put up oil prices, which no Western elected leader would have wanted to see, especially Barack Obama, with the danger that a spike in energy prices could prolong the economic doldrums. An economic argument for imperialism is fine if it makes sense, but this one does not, and there is no good evidence for it (that Qaddafi was erratic is not enough), and is therefore just a conspiracy theory.

Or was there something else going on at the time?

Well there was this thing called the Arab Spring that swept the whole region starting in December and there was this uprising in Libya that had Feb 17th as it's official kick off. Could that possibly have anything to do with this "War on Libya?"

Before the U.S. intervened in Libya there was this revolution taking place in Libya. I know you call it a civil war and see the US and intervening in a civil war, but I think that characterization is kindness to Qaddafi. Juan Cole again:

5. The Libyan Revolution was a civil war. It was not, if by that is meant a fight between two big groups within the body politic. There was nothing like the vicious sectarian civilian-on-civilian fighting in Baghdad in 2006. The revolution began as peaceful public protests, and only when the urban crowds were subjected to artillery, tank, mortar and cluster bomb barrages did the revolutionaries begin arming themselves. When fighting began, it was volunteer combatants representing their city quarters taking on trained regular army troops and mercenaries. That is a revolution, not a civil war. Only in a few small pockets of territory, such as Sirte and its environs, did pro-Qaddafi civilians oppose the revolutionaries, but it would be wrong to magnify a handful of skirmishes of that sort into a civil war. Qaddafi’s support was too limited, too thin, and too centered in the professional military, to allow us to speak of a civil war.

An just as you discount the Libyan revolution in your consideration of the matter, you also think "protecting civilians from massacre,’ ‘humanitarian intervention’ and so on are diversions if not falsehoods." That assessment is another kindness to Qaddafi that nobody that honestly assesses the facts surrounding Benghazi when 1973 was passed believes. Juan Cole again:

9. Qaddafi would not have killed or imprisoned large numbers of dissidents in Benghazi, Derna, al-Bayda and Tobruk if he had been allowed to pursue his March Blitzkrieg toward the eastern cities that had defied him. But we have real-world examples of how he would have behaved, in Zawiya, Tawargha, Misrata and elsewhere. His indiscriminate shelling of Misrata had already killed between 1000 and 2000 by last April,, and it continued all summer. At least one Qaddafi mass grave with 150 bodies in it has been discovered. And the full story of the horrors in Zawiya and elsewhere in the west has yet to emerge, but it will not be pretty. The opposition claims Qaddafi’s forces killed tens of thousands. Public health studies may eventually settle this issue, but we know definitively what Qaddafi was capable of.

This was the Libyan people's war in the beginning and it remains so today, in spite of NATO support. NATO has no boots on the ground and has lost no lives. Regardless of what the Russians say, it has been the Libyan people that have done the 'heavy lifting.' NATO has been trying all along to get "boots on the ground" but the rebels have refused. I think they have handle the whole situation very well to this point.

So I think the main contradiction in Libya today is between the dictatorship and the people. NATO entered this struggle, which was already in progress, on the side of the revolution. It did so for creepy, self-serving reasons in spite of the rhetoric, just like WW2. It is not to be trusted as an honest partner, just like WW2, nonetheless, it is on the right side of this struggle, just like WW2 and those that opposed US intervention in the Libyan situation are not serving the forward progress of humanity just as those that oppose US support for the allies in WW2 didn't.

Now I know that some people think that the US could never be on the right side of any struggle and so any struggle in which they take a side, anyone else on that side, i.e. Libyan freedom fighters, must also be bad. This is a narrow, ahistorical and un-dialectical view of the situation.

The reasons why NATO is supporting the revolution in Libya are complex and convoluted. I have covered much in my other blogs and so won't go into that here. See especially NATO's Game Plan in Libya

I know those that would have had the US stay out of WW2 would bristle at the charge that objectively they were supporting the fascist domination of much of the world but that was the reality.That being said, opposing NATO intervention period, also means opposing the revolution in Libya and supporting Qaddafi. That is very different from opposing NATO manipulation of the situation to gain advantage for itself by subverting the revolution while "supporting" it, but that is the task at hand for revolutionaries as opposed to "anti-interventionists."

For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation