Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Fezzan: "A Bulwark of the Gaddafi Regime"

This somewhat flipant cartoon by Phil Disley has the hour glass in the wrong hand. It is, in fact, Gaddafi and his clan that have control over the time it will take for the NTC to establish a functioning state that can ensure the supply of water from the large reserves in the Fezzan that flows to Tripoli.

The Fezzan is still under Gaddafi's control. So too is his large grand project of bringing freshwater to the cities on the coast of Libya, one of his main infrastructural projects that he termed "The Eighth Wonder of the World". Gaddafi's power base remains strong in the south in his ancestral tribal city of Sabha.

Gaddafi's stated willingness to negotiate is not based only on his last attempt to ensure his legacy in bequeathing bloodshed as the cartoon here indicates. Nor is it a symptom of his time of killing in the civil war running out compared with the blood on the hands of the insurgent factions.
As John Simpson of the BBC reported the water supply to Tripoli has been cut off and it will be very difficult for the NTC to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the hot weather conditions. This is most likely part of Gaddafi's last gambit to cause chaos and thwart the NATO backed 'transition'.

As Martin L Lewis wrote ( Libya's Fezzan, A Bulwark of the Gaddafi Regime ),

'As of March 1, 2011, Fezzan remained firmly under the control of the Gaddafi regime, with no indication of rebel activity in any of its cities or towns. The region’s loyalty to Gadaffi is linked to its relative isolation, as well as to the development funds that have been lavished upon it. But parts of Fezzan have also been singled out as bulwarks of the regime. Gaddafi attended secondary school in Sabha, the metropolis of the region (population 130,000). Many members of his own tribe, the Qaddadfa, subsequently relocated to the city, even though the tribe is based on the north coast. Sabha also supports a Libyan air base, which was linked to the country’s discontinued nuclear program, and has been used for rocket testing. The city is noted for its numerous migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, whose presence has been encouraged by Gaddafi and whose future in the country may be jeopardized by a regime change'.
That situation has not changed since and is as significant as the NTC rebels taking Tripoli, a city less firmly under Gaddafi's control that either he or the West liked to think. The violence meted out to black Sub-Saharan Africans,who are collectively seen as 'pro-Gaddafi', could well exacerbate existing ethnic tensions.

Gaddafi seems to be written off as a joke now that his regime has crumbled. Yet the dictator is no idiot. He's a cunning tactician who retains a number of cards up his sleeve. Destroying Tripoli's water supply in the desert regions south of the urban areas is one such guerrilla tactic this "leader of the Bedouins" could yet perform.

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