Photo: The Independent
Robert Fisk, the legendary UK journalist who has reported from some of the most dangerous spots in the world, has a great account of life right now in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.The gist: It’s deathly quiet.
While battles rage in the suburbs (battles that the pro-Qaddafi people have won, mind you) and other regions become liberated, Tripoli is silent and oppressed, though it’s in the grips of shortages and price spikes.
In terms of economics, this situation is horrible for Qaddafi since Tripoli’s only real resource is water. The oil is now largely in territory he doesn’t control.
Particularly haunting is Fisk’s account of the race to escape the country by businessmen and workers of all nationalities:
I was told that at least 30,000 Turks, who make up the bulk of the Libyan construction and engineering industry, have now fled the capital, along with tens of thousands of other foreign workers. On my own aircraft out of Tripoli, an evacuation flight to Europe, there were Polish, German, Japanese and Italian businessmen, all of whom told me they had closed down major companies in the past week. Worse still for Gaddafi, the oil, chemical and uranium fields of Libya lie to the south of “liberated” Benghazi. Gaddafi’s hungry capital controls only water resources, so a temporary division of Libya, which may have entered Gaddafi’s mind, would not be sustainable. Libyans and expatriates I spoke to yesterday said they thought he was clinically insane, but they expressed more anger at his son, Saif al-Islam. “We thought Saif was the new light, the ‘liberal'”, a Libyan businessman sad to me. “Now we realise he is crazier and more cruel than his father.”
The panic that has now taken hold in what is left of Gaddafi’s Libya was all too evident at the airport. In the crush of people fighting for tickets, one man, witnessed by an evacuated Tokyo car-dealer, was beaten so viciously on the head that “his face fell apart”.
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