Al Jazeera Blogs


Live Blog - Libya Feb 25

As the uprising in Libya enters its eleventh day, we keep you updated on the situation from our headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
Last modified: 25 Feb 2011 00:46
[Photo: Reuters]

As the uprising in Libya enters its eleventh day, we keep you updated on the developing situation from our headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

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Benghazi Protest Radio (Arabic)

(All times are local in Libya GMT+2)

February 25, 2011

11:16pm Prayer and Protest in Benghazi. An inspiring photo gallery from photographer David Degner.

The Guardian newspaper reports that UK officials have told Gaddafi loyalists to defect or face war crimes.  The article says that a draft resolution which circulating within the Security Council seeks to achieve the following: arms embargo on the government, travel bans and asset freezes of senior officials.The writers Patrick Wintour and Julian Borger say that the idea of a no-fly zone was removed from the Frano-British draft resolution and it was not discussed at a NATO meeting in Brussels. Meanwhile, more than 200 Arab organisations and around 30 Arab intellectuals appealed for a no-fly zone over Libya. Egyptian writer and commentator Hani Shukrallah reportedly told the Guardian:

Stopping Gaddafi and his family shopping in Harrods or on the Champs Elysées is not going to prevent him unleashing further bloodshed. It's time to stop fiddling about and get serious.

10:45pm UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Security Council to act quickly on a proposed package of U.N. sanctions aimed at forcing Libyan leaders to end their violent crackdown in the country. "It is time for the Security Council to consider concrete action," Ban told the 15-nation council. "The hours and the days ahead will be decisive for Libyans."

10:20pm Chad's Foreign Ministry has rejected allegations that citizens were among those reportedly recruited by Gaddafi to crack down on protesters.

International media inundates the public opinion with information alleging some Chadian would be mercenaries currently acting in Libya. We want to formally and categorically deny all those allegations that are dangerous and could pose a material and physical danger to the many Chadians living in Libya for years and always in a peaceful way. There are no Chadian mercenaries, there are no Chadians being recruited on Chad territory to go to Libya as mercenaries. It is possible that some Chadians in a private capacity and for personal reasons can belong to such or such group.

9:55pm Washington is finalising sanctions against Libya; the precise plan will be outlined in "the near future" according to Washington spokesperson, Jay Carney.  "The mechanics of the sanctions have not been finalised"

9:50pm Doctors without Borders (MSF) release an urgent press statement:

9:35pm The reports that protesters, armed with weapons from abandoned security installations in Beghazi, vow to march on to Gaddafi's palace in Tripoli. Writer Adrian Blomfield says that many in Benghazi are afraid of "the retribution Mr Gaddafi will unleash on them for their rebellion if they fail to complete their mission and force him from power".

Reports coming in: The UAE will send two plane loads of humanitarian aid to Libya, where protesters are battling the regime. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan was quoted as saying  "two planes carrying humanitarian aid will leave Saturday from the UAE to Libya  via Turkey in order to meet the urgent needs of the Libyan people in the circumstances they are facing."

Qatar sent a relief plane to Libya on Friday that Qatar Airways said will  land in Libya's second city Benghazi, which is in the hands of the protesters.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in eastern Libya, who cannot be named for her security, reports that while that region of the country has been mostly won by anti-Gaddafi protesters, people are anxious about what Gaddafi might do next.

People do say that they have broken the fear factor, that they have made huge territorial gains ...yet there's no real celebration or euphoria that the job has been done.

8:07pm Libyan UN envoy say he expects oil exports to stop for security reasons but the industry will not be harmed.

8:04pm The United Nations warns that Libya’s food supply network is on the brink of collapse, according to Democracy Now. More here.

The BBC reports that UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that the last British flight from Tripoli will leave tomorrow.

Save the Children, an international NGO, says that they are concerned at reports that children have been killed in a violent crackdown on anti-government protestors by Libyan security forces.  They are particularly concerned that ten of thousands more could be displaced if fighting between security forces and anti-government protestors intensifies. Andrew Wander, Media Manager for Emergencies, offers an assessment of the situation.

Watch Gaddafi's address to the Libyan people:

Gaddafi addresses Libya at Green Square

Tarik Yousef - Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington. tells Al Jazeera following Gaddafi's 'surprise speech' speech at Green Square, thirty minutes earlier:

I am torn between seeing this as a legitimate speech in front of crowds willing to support him, but I'm also aware of the capability of Libyan propaganda machine, so I want to wait and see what the analysts make of it ... That is not the average scene of what you'd expect from Green Square

7:14pm Several hundred people have gathered outside the Libyan embassy in Britain once more to show their support for protesters, Jacqueline Head, Al Jazeera's online reporter in London reports. However this time a small contigent appearing to represent Hizb ut Tahrir were also rallying, calling for a sharia state to be installed in Libya. The group said they were there to show their support for the Muslims in Libya. Muftah Abdelsamad, a 57-year-old Libyan living in exile in Britain for 35 years, told Al Jazeera:

 We call them the nutters, because that's what they are. We are Libyans. we are Muslims... but these people don't want democracy or freedom. What do they want, dictatorship? We always lived together - Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Jews. And we're all going to live together again."

Gaddafi has just addressed the Libyan people from Green Square in Tripoli.

 We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people ... prepare to defend Libya. Prepare to defend petrol, prepare to defend dignity."

6: 25pm Serbia denied media reports on Friday that its pilots or ground crews had been involved in Libyan air force bombing missions against protesters, adding that it was suspending all its arms exports to the country. The Serbian Defence Ministry were responding to reports in Arab and Maltese media that Serb mercenary pilots took part in bombing runs against protesters in the Libyancities of Tripoli and Benghazi.

6:01pm Violence flared up even before the Friday sermons were over, according to a source in Tripoli.

 People are rushing out of mosques even before Friday prayers are finished because the state-written sermons were not acceptable, and made them even more angry,” the source said.

5:55pm Bloomberg reports 'Al Jazeera Enrages Dictators, Wins Viewers With Coverage'

Beaming images of the protests and interviewing key participants, Al Jazeera in particular has moved from being perceived as a Middle Eastern talk shop to a catalyst for change.

5:28pm Al Jazeera correspondent tweets: Precious scene on Libyan state TV now - kids leading pro-Gaddafi gathering, chanting 'Long live Papa Muammar'

5:01pm The Libyan envoy to the UN has told the Human Rights Council that he and others at the embassy "represent only the Libyan people" and not the regime.

4:52pm Twitter user in Tripoli reports gun fire outside his house. He reports that he had to run back into the house after witnessing a shoot out, and someone being shot in the head. He continues to give running commentary of the events outside his home. Here is a picture of a bullet hole in the wall.

4:25pm Reports coming in that Libyan security forces tried to seize back control of the coastal town of Zawiyah, about 50 kilometers west of Tripoli, but were driven back by government opponents,

4:01pm  The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) reports that that the exodus of mainly foreign migrants from eastern Libya to Tunisia was increasing. It has been reported that upto 7,408 new arrivals over a 24-hour period until early Friday morning at the Ras Adjir border crossing alone. This put the total number of arrivals in Egypt, Tunisia and Niger to about 40,000  to 50,000.
Reuters reports that at least five protesters were shot and killed by security forces in Tripoli today. 

3:45pm In response to Gaddafi's comment on Libyan TV that "exploiting" teenagers, giving them "hallucinogenic pills in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe," a blogger released this image as a timely response:

3:40pm Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said today that Europe was united behind sanctions against Libya and called for swift EU and UN action. Westerwelle was speaking during a news conference with visiting Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri who said "the legitimate aspirations of Libyan people have to be supported, and have to be supported by action."

3:25pm Reports of heavy gun-fire in various Tripoli districts - Fashloum, Ashour, Jumhouria, Souq Al Jouma.

2:55pm All diplomats at the Libyan embassy in New Delhi have now defected. Not just the ambassador but the entire embassy Al Jazeera has learned. An excerpt of the press release sent to Al Jazeera:


2:19pm Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen says a no-fly zone over Libya has not been discussed yet. 

"Such a far reaching approach would require a very clear international legitimacy and in particular a United Nations mandate," Rasmussen told a news conference on Friday.

2:00pm Libyan state TV broadcasts a sermon from Friday prayers in which the imam says:

"Those who call for chaos will not be forgiven on the Day of Judgment. Stay away from internal fighting. We have to stay away from any evil and wrong doing. Whoever disobeys the ruler is disobeying God. We have to stay away from incitement work for unity."

1:31pm All diplomats at the Libyan embassy in New Delhi, India have now defected, Prerna Suri, Al Jazeera's correspondent in India reports.

1:25pm Security forces are deployed around mosques in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, fearing protests when Friday prayers end shortly, Al Jazeera Arabic reports.

12:55pm We have more information on the evacuations of British citizens from Libya. The UK foreign office says:

"The security and wellbeing of British nationals is our absolute priority. We are doing all we can to get them out of Libya, drawing on both military and commercial assets, as well as working with international partners. Our priority is ensuring British nationals can leave Libya as quickly and as safely as soon as possible."

12:46pm Al Jazeera Arabic has an exclusive with the man accused by the Libyan government of leading an Islamist emirate in Derna, Libya. The man, Abdul Hakeem Al Hasadi, denied the accusations and said he is a former political prisoner. 

“I am, Abdul Hakeem Al Hasadi, a Libyan citizen and a former political prisoner. I would like to read the following statement in response to lies made by Dictator Gaddafi and his propaganda machine. I tell them that I am one of the participants in the revolution of Feb 17th along with the youth and people of Derna against the corrupt regime of Gaddafi. 

"Gaddafi is trying to divide the people of the nation. He claims that there is an Islamist Emirate in Derna and that I am its Emir. He is taking advantage from the fact that I am a former political prisoner."

12:43pm The UN's World Food Programme says Libya's food supply chain is at risk of collapsing, as imports are not reaching ports and distribution around the country is reportedly hampered by violence.

12:33pm Italy is reportedly planning a "military operation" to rescue Italian nations stranded in Libya, Ignazio La Russia, the Italian defence minister, told the SkyTG24 news channel.

12:30pm The AFP news agency reports anti-government protesters calling themselves "children of the revolution" have occupied Libya's embassy in Paris.

French police were reportedly stationed outside the embassy, preventing anyone else gaining access, including those wishing to bring the protesters food.

12:20pm Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of the Libyan leader's sons, has reportedly told CNN-Turk that his family plans to live and die in Libya. The excerpt appeared online ahead of the full broadcast at 11GMT on Friday.

"Plan A is to live and die in Libya, Plan B is to live and die in Libya, Plan C is to live and die in Libya."

11:43am Charlie Beckett of POLIS, a journalism and society think-tank, says Al Jazeera is leading the citizen media revolution, and he cites our coverage in Libya.

11:27am Al Jazeera Arabic has learned that intensive discussions are under way between defected Libyan political leaders, including ambassadors and ministers who have stepped down, to form a political body to lead the country.

11:00am Sky News reports that the UK government allegedly paid Libyan officials to facilitate the evacuation of British citizens.

10:50am If you've ever wondered why Libyan protesters have been waving a red, black and green flag with a star and crescent instead of the plain green flag you may be looking for, wonder no more. Al Jazeera web journalist Asad Hashim explains it all here.

10:33am EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton has joined those calling for sanctions against Libya in a bid to stop the bloodshed.

10:14am Libyan state television reports Libyan families will receive 500 dinars (or about $400) each, while wages for some public workers could increase by 150pc.

10:12am Germany is preparing sanctions against Libyan leaders over the attacks on protesters, Guido Westerwelle, Germany's foreign minister, said on Friday ahead of a UN Security Council meeting.

"It's no longer about setting deadlines, it's about acting now," Westerwelle told Deutschlandfunk radio. "Therefore I have decided that sanctions should be prepared now."

10:10am Libya's government has spent years strengthening relations with Latin America, mostly through investments. But now, Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo reports from Sao Paulo on the region's divided reaction to Gaddafi's crackdown on protests in Libya.

10:06am France and Britain are to ask the UN for a Libyan arms embargo, financial sanctions and an indictment from the International Criminal Court against Libyan leaders for crimes against humanity, the Reuters news agency reports, citing an interview with French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie on France Info radio.

10:00am NATO has called an emergency meeting for Friday afternoon to discuss the situation in Libya. 

"I have convened an emergency meeting in the NATO council this afternoon to consult on this fast-moving situation. So I will return to Brussels in a few hours," NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the Reuters news agency. adding that NATO has "assets that can be used in a situation like this".

9:41am has compiled a photogallery and list of what it calls "Gaddafi's Craziest Quotes" including such gems as:

“There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet.”

9:30am Not everyone is pleased with our coverage of Libya. One man left this voice note, posted on the Alive in Libya site, saying: 

"I would like to remind Al Jazeera channel about the spotlight it has created on Libya and creating division because the people will come out and they will die. The colonel Muammar al Gaddafi will remain and he will not change ... And we are happy with what he wants."

However, just a short while later, the same site posted a voice note from a citizen of the UK, who praised Al Jazeera for being a "beacon of light".

"I would like to inform the Al Jazeera channel to continue being a beacon of light for transmitting and informing other channels as they were in Egypt so that there is no media cover up and the truth reaches the people." 

9:00am Al Jazeera Arabic has learned that Libya’s chief prosecutor and head of judicial inspection have resigned. 

8:45am As we mentioned in an earlier post, residents of Tripoli report receiving text messages from the government urging people to "get back to normal" and "go to work".

One resident left an audio message, posted on the site Alive in Libya, saying just that:

"If you notice, they started cleaning the streets and painting over the writings on walls and the marks of the fire that happened in the past few days all at once to make the city look like nothing happened. But if you look closely you can still see that they did a very bad job painting it over. It looks like they are hiding something." 

8:26am Bloomberg's Business Week cites Al Jazeera in this story on the protests in Libya and elsewhere, saying:

The channel, together with the Arabic-language only Al Arabiya, has been influential enough to cause Qaddafi, 68, to interrupt his hour-long, rambling televised speech on Feb. 22 to criticize their real-time coverage of his remarks after he was handed a note by an aide.

8:02am Stephanie Bernstein, a rabbi in Bethesda, Maryland, has been one of the most outspoken victims of the Lockerbie bombing and says she hopes the Libyan leader will be held accountable. Monica Villamizar blogs about it, citing Bernstein:

"All those people in the diplomatic world who thought somehow [Gaddafi] would be a modern progressive leader should be ashamed of themselves."

5:56am This was first posted by the UK's Guardian two weeks ago, but remains an informative interactive map of tweets from protests across the region - collected from top bloggers, experts and journalists.

5:50am As Libya descended further into chaos, Muammar Gaddafi for the second time addressed the nation on state TV. However, as Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports, Gaddafi's argument that he was not the leader is simply a denial of responsibility:

5:06am China has so far evacuated 12,000, or about two-thirds, of its citizens from turmoil in Libya, many of them workers for Chinese-run projects and businesses in the oil-rich nation, official media said on Friday.

5:01am Venezuela's top diplomat on Thursday echoed Fidel Castro's accusation that Washington is fomenting unrest in Libya to justify an invasion to seize North African nation's oil reserves.

Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister said:

They are creating conditions to justify an invasion of Libya.

4:27am Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, has backed Muammar Gaddafi on Twitter. 

Chavez tweeted:

Gaddafi is facing a civil war.

Long live Libya. Long live the independence of Libya.

3:30am The UN Security Council will meet on Friday to consider actions against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's government that could include sanctions aimed at deterring his violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Possible measures include an asset freeze for government figures, travel and visa bans, investment and export restrictions or tough Security Council action.

3:01am There are reports doing the rounds on the internet of "texts being sent in Libya, purportedly by the government, saying: [However, its veracity has not been confirmed yet]

You will receive 100LYD credit if you send a text saying to people to remain indoors tomorrow. 

2:53am According to posts on the microblogging site Twitter, an ad hoc government in Benghazi has set up committees to deal with security, public health, food supplies and evacuating foreigners.

2:46am According to witnesses, pro-Gaddafi forces took control of Misrata town late on Thursday after evicting forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi from the Mediterranean coastal city, prompting street celebrations, a witness said.

2:45am In a speech on Thursday, the embattled dictator said he was like the Queen of England.

You need to listen to your parents. If people disobey their parents they end up destroying the country, he said. The same case as in Britain (where) for 57 years the Queen has been ruling. I have been in the same situation.

2:40am Twitter user @_Noura posted this to Twitpic:

2:32am Libyans say they risk arrest or even death for talking to the foreign media because the authorities are desperate to stop information about their violent crackdown reaching the outside world.

1:33am According to UK based newspaper, The Telegraph, Muammar Gaddafi's assets worth billions of pounds will be seized by Britain.

In total, the Libyan regime is said to have around £20bn in liquid assets, mostly in London, according to the newspaper report.

1:26am Twitter user @Farrah3m posted this to Twitpic:

1:22am Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, have sought to quell fears that unrest in Libya would put oil prices on a long term upward trajectory.

12:30am Barack Obama, the US president, spoke on Thursday with the leaders of France, Britain and Italy to discuss their "range of options" as they considered how to respond to the crisis in Libya, the White House said.

12:00am Canada defended its efforts to evacuate its citizens from Libya on Thursday amid problems getting a charter flight into Tripoli. The charter was supposed to pick up some 200 Canadians in the Libyan capital, and Lawrence Cannon, the Foreign Affairs Minister, had planned to welcome them back at Rome's airport.  

11:30pm As per latest reports, the US government has asked its citizens to leave Libya immediately.

11:10pm  AJE reports:

Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, one of Gaddafi's top security officials and a cousin, defected on Wednesday evening, saying in a statement issued by his Cairo office that he left the country "in protest and to show disagreement" with "grave violations to human rights and human and international laws.

Sources tell Al Jazeera that Al-Dam was travelling to Syria via Cairo on a private plane and that he went to Egypt in protest against the violence deployed by the government in Libya.

10:57pm: From our lead story on Libya tonight:

Mustafa Abdel Galil, who resigned three days ago from his post as the country's justice minister, spoke to Al Jazeera at a meeting of tribal leaders and representatives of eastern Libya in the city of Al Baida.

He warned that Gaddafi has biological and chemical weapons, and will not hesitate to use them.

'We call on the international community and the UN to prevent Gaddafi from going on with his plans in Tripoli,' he said.

 'At the end when he’s really pressured, he can do anything. I think Gaddafi will burn everything left behind him.'