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Juan Cole: The Great Tripoli Uprising | Informed Comment

Juan Cole:

The Great Tripoli Uprising | Informed Comment: As dawn broke Sunday in Libya, revolutionaries were telling Aljazeera Arabic that much of the capital was being taken over by supporters of the February 17 Youth revolt. Some areas, such as the suburb of Tajoura to the east and districts in the eastrn part of the city such as Suq al-Juma, Arada, the Mitiga airport, Ben Ashour, Fashloum, and Dahra, were in whole or in part under the control of the revolutionaries. Those who were expecting a long, hard slog of fighters from the Western Mountain region and from Misrata toward the capital over-estimated dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s popularity in his own capital, and did not reckon with the severe shortages of ammunition and fuel afflicting his demoralized security forces, whether the regular army or mercenaries. Nor did they take into account the steady NATO attrition of his armor and other heavy weapons.

This development, with the capital creating its own nationalist mythos of revolutionary participation, is the very best thing that could have happened. Instead of being liberated (and somewhat subjected) from the outside by Berber or Cyrenaican revolutionaries, Tripoli enters the Second Republic with its own uprising to its name, as a full equal able to gain seats on the Transitional National Council once the Qaddafis and their henchmen are out of the way. There will be no East/West divide. My hopes for a government of national unity as the last phase of the revolution before parliamentary elections now seem more plausible than ever. Tellingly, Tunisia and Egypt both recognized the TNC as Libya’s legitimate government through the night, as the Tripoli uprising unfolded. Regional powers can see the new Libya being born….

By 8 am Sunday morning Libya time, fighters from Nalut and elsewhere in the Western Mountain region had begun coming into Tripoli to give aid to the people who made the uprising. The revolutionaries’ advance into the capital is entitled “Operation Mermaid Dawn.”

One way or another, it seems clear that the Libyan Revolution has entered its last phase, and that this phase could well end abruptly in the next days. If Qaddafi’s own capital is so eager to be rid of him, his support is much thinner than many observers had assumed. His troops in Zawiya and elsewhere are increasingly refusing to engage in hand to hand combat, running away when the revolutionaries show up, and at most sitting in a truck and bombarding the revolutionaries from a distance (but thereby making themselves targets of NATO war planes and helicopters). The esprit de corps of the revolutionaries is, in contrast, high.