Nic Pelham on Libya

Our friend Nic Pelham — who intrepidly went to cover war-torn Libya with a broken arm! — has a good long piece in MERIP on the situation post-Tripoli, in which he finds thatmost Libyans don't care much about catching Qadhafi. They're too busy making sure that their neighborhoods run and keeping the rebels from outside at bay:

But while the incoming fighters rake the night sky with triumphal volleys from anti-aircraft guns, locals decry them as impostors, intent on stealing their credit. By their telling, the capital’s conquest was an act of self-liberation, an intifada launched by residents on 820/820 -- 8:20 pm on August 20 -- or the twentieth of Ramadan, the day the Prophet is said to have liberated Mecca from unbelief. A fighter recalls how four sentries shared one Kalashnikov, rotating guard duty every six hours, maintaining eight shifts before the rebels arrived. An NTC member from Tripoli claims Operation Mermaid never happened. “NATO didn’t bomb its 40 pre-designated targets, and the fighters from the mountains turned up 48 hours late,” says ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Radi. “By the time they arrived in the early morning of August 22, Tripoli was a liberated city, and they could march all the way to Green Square without a fight.”

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The fall of Tripoli in the Islamist imagination

Reza Pankhurst, of New Civilisation, an interesting UK-based Islamist website (apparently close to Hizb ut-Tahrir), on the parallels between the conquests of Mecca and Tripoli:

The fall of much of Tripoli on Sunday was greeted with joy by many, especially the crowds of thousands who were gathered in Liberation Square in Benghazi. The chants in unison were the calls “There is no God except Allah” and “We hear and Obey O Allah”. The revolutionary commander in Tripoli linked the event to the victory of the Prophet Mohammad over his tribe that had rejected his message and fought against him more than 14 centuries earlier which is known literally as the opening or conquest of Mecca. The parallels mentioned were numerous, from the timing (both the opening of Mecca and that of Tripoli occurred during the last ten nights of the holy month of Ramadan, just one day separating the two), the nature of the vanquished (the Prophet Mohammad and his companions faced oppression, torture, and death at the hands of those they came to conquer, and the abuses of the Gaddafi regime are open knowledge in Libya where thousands of mostly Islamic opposition have been tortured and killed while in captivity over the years), and the morality of the victors (in line with the Prophet’s general amnesty, the Libyan rebel official position is that those of the former regime who do not resist will not be killed).

That's probably what at least some Libyan Islamists are thinking, and no doubt they will be building a narrative around these lines.