Just before I went to bed last night, the BBC News cast were examining the front pages of today’s papers and wondering if the newspapers would be left red-faced when Tripoli fell over night and their headlines were out of date before the last copy was off the press. It was indeed a possibility. It was, however, not to be so.
This is not a bad thing. In fact, the rebels opposing Col Gaddafi have made huge advancements in the past few days. On Friday they finally captured the much fought-over coastal towns of Ziltan and Zawiya and quickly pushed out Gaddafi’s forces. This was highly significant, as these two towns give the rebels control of the coastal road which links the rebel strong holds of the East and Misrata in the West to Tripoli, the capital and Col Gaddafi’s seat of power. The loss of the road also means that Gadaffi’s supply lines have been cut and puts even more pressure on him to go.
Another big breakthrough came from inside Tripoli. The city had so far lain dormant but on Saturday night violence errupted on the streets. There were reports that gunfire was exchanged before Gaddafi’s forces quashed the rebelious citizens. However, the fact remains that Col Gaddafi now faces resistance in his own back garden and he is surely getting anxious. With the taking of Ziltan and Zawiya, it can not be long before the main rebel army arrive in Tripoli.
This in turn means that Gaddafi’s days are numbered, much more than they have ever been. The final possibility of his survival as Libya’s leader has been snuffed out and, much like his counterpart in Syria – President Bashar al-Assad – he has crossed a line of no return. So the question now shifts. We are no longer asking if Gaddafi will go, but when. It seems the answer is soon. His own regime is weakening by the day, with continued defections and a lack of supplies. And if the rebel forces capture Tripoli, the game will surely be up. So then the next question arises. What comes after Gaddafi? Post your theories as comments.