Libya: Misrata siege politicized; Qatar arming rebels

Magharebia, news organization of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, reports April 14 on the siege of Misrata, where Qaddafi forces are shelling the city with Grad rockets and infiltrating snipers across rooftops. Twenty children have been killed in the last two weeks, according to UNICEF, prompting the organization to call for a ceasefire and “an immediate end to the siege of Misrata.” Thousands of foreign workers are apparently desperate to flee the city. A Qatari vessel evacuated some Egyptian workers to Alexandria “where they told stories of the bombardment by pro-Kadhafi forces,” Magharebia states. We have no particular reason to doubt this, but it is important to note that foreign workers in Libya have been attacked by both sides.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports April 15 that Qatar is now arming the rebels:

President Barack Obama said the coalition acting to keep Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from attacking his people would have been impossible without the support of the tiny Gulf Arab nation of Qatar.

“We would not have been able, I think, to shape the kind of broad-based international coalition that includes not only our Nato members but also includes Arab states, without the emir’s leadership,” Obama told reporters after a meeting in the Oval Office with Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. “He is motivated by a belief that the Libyan people should have the rights and freedoms of all people.”

Officials in Doha confirmed that the Gulf state is supplying anti-tank weapons to Libyan rebels in Benghazi as part of its strategy of working to overthrow the Gaddafi regime.

Nato planes bombed the capital, Tripoli, where Libyan state television showed footage of a defiant Gaddafi cruising through the streets in a green safari jacket and sunglasses, pumping his fists and waving from an open-top vehicle.

Qatar also recently signed a deal to market Libyan oil from rebel-held territory. Note that as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Qatar signed off on last month’s Saudi-led military intervention in Bahrain to suppress protests. Another one to file under “life’s little ironies.”

See our last posts on Libya and the regional revolutions.

Please leave a tip or answer the Exit Poll.