Thursday, 6 October 2011

Fighting continues in Qadhafi's strongholds

Despite recent predictions that the fighting in Libya would end, it is still continuing in some areas, including the key towns of Sirte, Bani Walid and Sebha. In particular, fighters loyal to Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi are clinging onto control in Bani Walid and Sirte. NATO spokesman Colonel Roland Lavoie recently estimated that roughly 200,000 Libyans were still under the control of the Qadhafi regime.

On 30th September, it was announced that National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters would adhere to a 48-hour ceasefire in Qadhafi's hometown of Sirte in order to allow the civilian population to flee. According to various sources – including International Red Cross, which has gained access to Sirte – humanitarian conditions in the city are still deteriorating.

NTC military commanders have suggested that Qadhafi's fourth-eldest son and former national security adviser, Mu'atassim, is in the Bouhadi district to the south of Sirte. On 3rd October, news from Libya suggested that NTC forces had taken Bouhadi. Information in recent weeks, as yet unconfirmed, places Mu'atassim and Saif al-Islam in Sirte and Bani Walid, respectively. Given the fierce resistance, it is highly likely that the two towns do indeed shelter members of Qadhafi's inner circle.

On 29th September, Interpol issued a red arrest notice – the highest of its kind – for Sa'adi al-Qadhafi, who is currently in Niger. The notice was requested by the NTC, who accused Sa'adi of misappropriating funds and using force during his time with the Libyan Football Federation. There are also the same notices issued for Colonel Qadhafi and Saif al-Islam, both relating to arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Sa'adi has, however, contested both the allegations and the red notice. Niger has also confirmed that it has no intention of extraditing him. Niamey has, however, offered NTC officials the opportunity to question Sa'adi while he remains in the country.

There is little news about the other members of the former Qadhafi regime. Former prime minister Dr Mahmoud al-Baghdadi has been released in Tunisia, after appealing his sentence for illegally travelling through the country. It is rumoured that he has begun a hunger strike while the authorities consider what they should do next.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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