Robert Fisk today has an eye-opening story in The Independent about the state of Libya. He speaks of near chaos on the border as 10s of thousands try to leave the country beleaguered by internal conflict for over two weeks. What authorities remain there try to keep refugees supplied with water and food. In the mean time, state media within Libya continues to repeat the assertion that the global press is lying about conditions in the North African country and that the protests were small, localized disturbances encouraged by al Qaeda and hallucinogenic drugs.
Opposition protesters have received weapons training, according to Al Jazeera English, and have volunteered to march on Tripoli. The leaders and organizers of the anti-Gaddafi forces have for the time being decided to fortify and garrison the town of Benghazi.
In the meantime, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader, clings to power and title in the capitol of Tripoli. Today he addressed the public with a rambling, two-hour speech in which he reiterated that the protests were encouraged by al Qaeda and claimed that he was the only barrier preventing terrorism from entering southern and western Europe.
Gaddafi forces have engaged the opposition in brutal ground assaults, briefly retaking the city of Brega before the opposition apparently took it back. Though the opposition has the arsenal and numbers to protect itself from ground attack it has no answer to the Libyan air force which has inflicted casualties on protesters in support of Colonel Gaddafi. Gaddafi is also attacking oil producing areas in order to put economic pressure on the West.
As the border system collapses and panic sweeps over some of the population, the opposition stands strong, and Colonel Gaddafi is still in denial. Gaddafi still has a military force of around 10,000 trained troops, and anti-Gaddafi forces have more numbers but less firepower. Neither side recognized the authority of the other, and neither has sovereignty over Libya at this particular moment. Therefore, I conclude that we are witnessing a civil war.