By Elizabeth Arrott
Groups opposed to Liyban leader Moammar Gadhafi say they are in control of most of the eastern part of the country and plan to keep pushing until the current government is gone. The opposition says there is no room for compromise.
The uprising that is sweeping Libya began in the east. After days of violence, the region is now trying to restore some sort of order for itself. Among those helping is Rabie el Mahdi Majid, a former policeman who switched sides to protest the government crackdown.
Majid says the government is not here, only national committees. He says the organizers of this new, non-Gadhafi-led region “represent discipline for us and for the state.”
In Musaid, near Libya’s border with Egypt, civilians have taken up arms to create what they hope will be an alternate to the state created in 1969 by Mr. Gadhafi. This young man, dressed in a hoodie and carrying a Kalishnikov rifle, argues that if the man known as the brother-leader had allowed peaceful demonstrations, this would never have happened.
“He killed people, he said. “Children, women. He brought mercenaries to cause bloodshed. The young man adds, “unfortunately, we didn’t expect this from him, to take the wealth of the Libyan people and give it to African mercenaries to slaughter us.”
Again and again, Libyans talk about mercenaries from other African countries. They dismiss concerns that some of the Africans who flocked to Libya under Mr. Gadhafi’s policy of pan-Africanism might be subject to retribution. People here say they knew the migrant workers in their areas. These people were different.
The violent suppression and alleged use of foreign forces has pushed some to believe there can be no turning back. This Libyan, a sales manager who had been living in exile in Dubai, came back when the unrest began.
“Where is the room of compromise after 42 years of torture, killing destruction, waste of our wealth,” sales manager said. “What do you expect? We are not fighters. Everywhere they went out it was peaceful, but it had to turn ugly because they are defending themselves. They are just defending themselves, okay? What middle ground can you work with Gadhafi. There is no middle ground.”
The young man with the Kalashnikov agrees, saying “we will continue to the end.”
He adds, the end of every tyrant is very soon. “God is with us. We care about nothing – annihilate us, wipe us out with his tanks, planes. We die for the sake of freedom.”
With Mr. Gadhafi voicing similar intransigence, even as more defect from his government and more land falls to the opposition, this uprising has turned into one of the bloodiest in the waves of demonstrations washing across the Arab world.