The struggle for control of Libya has entered a critical new phase. Rebel forces have taken control of much of the capital city of Tripoli. In areas under their jurisdiction, opposition flags fluttered, jubilant residents honked horns, set off fireworks and stomped on posters of Moammar Gaddafi. The rebels have been securing key government buildings in the city and telling residents to stay inside while offering them immunity if they surrender their weapons. Supportive residents were handing out milk and water to the rebels. The end of the dictator`s 42 year old regime appears to be in sight after many months of fighting.
Three of Gaddafi`s sons are in rebel custody, but the whereabouts of Colonel Gaddafi, other family members and senior officials remain unknown. The leaders of the rebels had previously announced that they would allow Gaddafi to leave safely if he announced his departure. In a move that was designed to avoid a bloodbath, rebel chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said the Libyan leader and his sons would be given a safe passage out of the country.
Gaddafi “needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya,” President Obama said in a written statement issued late Sunday. “He needs to relinquish power once and for all.” Britain, France, Germany, Italy and other European countries joined the call on Monday, also urging the rebels to respect human rights and not to exact revenge on Gaddafi supporters.
According to the New York Times, the rebel’s governing body, the National Transitional Council, issued a statement saying: “We congratulate the Libyan people for the fall of Moammar Gadhafi and call on the Libyan people to go into the street to protect the public property. Long live free Libya.”
Commentators are saying that the fall of Gadhafi will inspire protestors in Syria and Yemen to carry on with their fight. In addition, they argue that showing persistence will ultimately pay off in the region and that the successful, relatively quick revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt weren’t aberrations.