For weeks all eyes have been on the Libyan rebels who have seized the coastal city of Benghazi in the east of the country from which they have repeatedly advanced on Tripoli—and repeatedly been driven back. Now a new advance has been launched on Tripoli from the interior Nafusa Mountains to the southwest, and reached the Gualish plains that flank the capital on the south. The army of Berber rebels has received air-drops of arms from France, and is apparently coordinating its advance with NATO air-strikes. “We waited before launching this assault and finally got the green light from NATO this morning and the offensive began,” an unnamed rebel leader from the hilltown of Zintan told AFP. The rebels have gained strength and legitimacy from the recent defection to their ranks of Gen. Mohammed Ali Dhech, a key figure from Qaddafi’s army. (Middle East Online, July 7; FT, July 1)
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Berber renaissance in Libya’s Nafusa Mountains
Reuters runs a fascinating report July 11 from Jadu, a small town in Libya’s western Nafusa Mountains, now swollen with refugees from Qaddafi-held territory, where a Berber cultural renaissance is underway. The local radio station is broadcasting in Berber as well as Arabic, the Berber language is being taught in schools, and magazines and even a few books have been published in Berber over the past several weeks. Under Qaddafi, residents could be jailed for even speaking the language.
In light of this, it is rather difficult to blame the Berber rebels for accepting French military aid…