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Friday, March 4, 2011

Newslinks: March 4 (Reports from Libya)

The following report was just posted by Iyad El-Baghdadi who has private, non-media contacts in various parts of Libya: "We reported early (first or second day of the revolution) that Gaddafi distributed weapons in Sirt, saying "you'll need them soon". We also reported that elements of the Furjan tribe have joined the revolution, esp. in Tarhuna. For a little background, the Furjan tribe have a presence in Tarhuna, Sirt, and Ajdabia. It seems that today in Ras Lanuf's action, some Furjan soldiers under Gaddafi refused to comply. When revolutionaries entered the Ras Lanuf army camp, they found 20+ bodies of soldiers with their hands tied behind their back. It appears now that these were soldiers who refused to comply, many of them Furjan. It's also revealed that in Sirt, Gaddafi did not in fact distribute weapons to the entire population, not even to his entire tribe. It appears he only distributed weapons to his own branch of the Gaddafi's, showing he doesn't even trust his own tribe entirely. Now it appears that Sirt has been ready for revolt, but the presence of the Saadi brigade prevented that. With [the] Furjan soldiers slaying, a significant population of Sirt appears ready to join the revolution as it approaches. The humiliating defeat of the Saadi brigade today in Ras Lanuf also helps increase probability of uprising in Sirt." Note: Sirt is a port city between Misurata and Benghazi.

The report continues: "Previously, there were voices calling to completely avoid attacking Sirt, afraid that a bloody tribal battle will ensue. But with these new revelations, it seems that an approach by revolutionary forces towards Sirt may tip the city over to the uprising. This is significant because revolutionary forces are reported to be within 150 kms from Sirt right now. If Sirt would join the revolution, it would be a game changer, allowing free movement from the east to the west, esp. Misurata."

El-Baghdadi also offers an explanation of what is meant by "tribe" in relation to the Arab world. "I need to explain something about the tribal makeup of Libyan society. I must make it clear that all consider themselves one nation. A "tribe" here is simply a unit of social organization, not a "nation within a nation" diverting allegiance away from Libya. Hence in much of the Arab world, you belong to a family, which belongs to a clan, to a tribe, to a nation."

Multiple sources confirm that the important oil terminal and city at Ras Lanouf now in revolutionary hands.

Reports in general media are the the town of Az Zawiya, 25 km west of Tripoli, is no back in pro-Gaddafi hands after a bloody battle in the street. Reports I am getting from non-media sources in the area dispute this and call it government propaganda. Situation is still very fluid and unlcear.

Reports are coming in of extreme violence against protesters in areas of Tripoli as night fell. The Tajoura neighborhood in Tripoli has been sealed off and it is possible pro-Gaddafi forces are battling protesters there. Location is so far unconfirmed.

This is a compendium of reports from non-journalists inside Libya.

As of 5 PM local time, no reports have been received from contacts inside Tripoli proper for at least 24 hours.

All reports filed within last 45 minutes (10:00 AM EST as of writing), courtesy Iyad El-Baghdadi:

Kidnappings being reported in western city of Zawyatdahmani.

Revolutionaries have taken control of Gharyan within last 15 minutes. Gharyan is just south of Tripoli.

Revolutionaries are now completely in control of Ras Lanouf, on the coast east of Tripoli, halfway to Benghazi from Tripoli. Pro-Gaddafi forces currently performing airstrikes on Ras Lanouf. This tactic has become common after pro-Gaddafi forces lose control of a city.

Battles in Az Zawiya (on coast west of Tripoli) being fought with heavy artillery, tanks and anti-aircraft batteries.

Foreign journalists were kept with minders today who brought them through the streets of Tripoli where all pictures broadcast showed a calm return to normalcy. These reports are from eyewitnesses on the ground who are sympathizers of the Revolutionaries.

Newslink posts are updated periodically throughout the day as updates are received.

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