After six months…
Victory is at last in sight for Libya's rebels – for all Libya.
What happened in the past few days caught most by surprise. The speed with which rebels moved toward Tripoli was simply stunning. Not long ago, there were fears that Gaddafi may succeed in pushing the revolutionaries back, but a valiant sweep Westward, particularly into the towns of Gharyan and Zawiyah, seems to have decisively turned the tide. Even so, as late as the morning of August 21, as rebel forces were on the outskirts of the Libyan capital, the most optimistic estimations of a takeover were 7-10 days. Yet, once again, we see that Allāh is the best of planners.
Sentiment quickly turned today from one of a prospective, somewhat protracted “end game” to one of an immediate “final push.” As the evening progressed, news of Gaddafi's forces retreating and the capture of Gadaffi's sons spurred celebrations across the country, particularly in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
Even with the writing on the wall, Gaddafi still continues to communiques as brief as they are incoherent and out of touch with reality. One wonders if he believes any will heed his call to “defend” Tripolli, whether anyone buys the oft-repeated dictator-on-the-brink claim of a foreign led revolution?
To be sure, no one knows what will be the fate of Gaddafi when all is said and done. Will he flee? Will he be summarily executed? Will he be put on trial?
The world waits with bated breath. Inshā'Allāh they won' t need to wait much longer.
A rundown of recent events in the Libyan revolution (via Aljazeera)
May 15: Gaddafi forces withdraw from Misrata. The seaside city of Misrata was besieged for months by Gaddafi forces; they surrounded it and frequently lobbed mortars downtown.
Hundreds of civilians and rebel fighters were killed, and thousands more wounded, during weeks of fighting in the city centre and near the port. Civilians reported appalling living conditions: scarce food and water, little to no electricity, and a severe shortage of medical supplies.
NATO planes began bombing the city in late April, targeting Gaddafi's tanks and artillery. Rebels began their own counter=offensive on April 25, pushing slowly from the east, seizing the port area and working their way through the city.
A fierce battle on May 11 left the rebels with control of the airport, and four days later they declared the battle for Misrata over.
July 28: Major push in the Western Mountains. Rebel gains in the east slowed down after the Misrata campaign, but they began winning territory in western Libya, allowing them to surround Gaddafi in Tripoli.
The western campaign allowed rebel fighters to control Libya's main supply lines
The rebels began their push in early June, and for several weeks they reported steady gains, capturing scattered villages and seizing much-needed supplies from the Gaddafi troops stationed in the region.
Their advance was halted in early July at the town of Qawalish. It took several advances to seize the town; rebels had to retreat at one point because they ran out of ammunition.
By late July, the rebels were pushing down from the Nafusa Mountains to towns in the foothills, allowing them to control strategically-important roads linking Tripoli to Tunisia – Gaddafi's main source of supplies.
Rebels would seize several other important towns, including Tiji and Bir al-Ghanam, after the start of Ramadan in August.
August 15: Rebels take Gharyan. The war's final phase seemed to begin last week, when rebels reported taking control of Gharyan, a town about 80km south of Tripoli.
That victory allowed them to completely encircle the Gaddafi-controlled capital: All of the major highways leading out of Tripoli now pass through rebel-controlled areas.
Control of Gharyan, and the town of Zawiyah in the west, is not yet absolute; there are still reports of scattered shelling by Gaddafi's artillery. But the Libyan leader has been unable to retake these towns, and with reports of fighting on the streets of Tripoli, his grip on power is weaker than ever.