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Outside Pressure Grows as Libya Splits Further
February 28, 2011

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Moammar Gadhafi is clinging to power in Libya, even as much of the country and its vital oil resources are in the hands of anti-government protesters and other world leaders threaten more and more invasive actions.

Tripoli, the capital, is still in the hands of Gadhafi and forces loyal to him, as are several other key areas around the country. Also, Gadhafi's penchant for maintaining a weak national fighting force has paid dividends in that the units that have turned against him have done so with weapons in short supply. However, in Benghazi, the second-largest city and site of the origin of the protest movement, opposition leaders have formed their own council, in a preview of what could be the new government if Gadhafi departs. Opposition also now control Misrata, the country's third-largest city.

Also of significance was France's announcement of a departing shipment of food and other supplies bound for Benghazi — the first such foreign aid earmarked for the forces supporting the uprising. French officials made clear that the shipment was of humanitarian aid — medicine and doctors — and not guns and soldiers.

Battles continued between pro-Gadhafi and anti-government forces, with the death toll numbering in the hundreds or in the thousands, depending on the source. Gadhafi himself appeared on television, in the form of an interview with America's ABC News, in which he claimed that his people adored him and vowed to stay on no matter the cost.

Also, the European Union and the United States ratcheted up their rhetoric and their international actions. The EU imposed an arms embargo and sanctions on Libya, as have the U.S. and the United Nations. Both the EU and the U.S. have frozen Libya's assets — numbering in the billions of dollars that are not accessible. The U.S. has closed its embassy in Tripoli. In recent days, Libyan ambassadors to several countries have resigned to protest the government's crackdown.

Both the U.S. and the United Kingdom have talked of instituting a no-fly zone for Libya's airspace, in response to reports that Gadhafi has ordered airstrikes against the protesters. The U.S. has aircraft carriers in the area and could certainly bring a sizable military force to bear in a relatively short amount of time.

Meanwhile, frightened, desperate civilians formed long lines in hopes of securing staples like bread and gasoline, as prices on both (and other) items skyrocketed.



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