Libya: Ras Lanouf, Az Zawiyah, Tripoli
The focus of attention is now on Ras Lanouf, 650 km east of Tripoli, home to the most important of Libya’s five oil export refineries. All the coastal strip from Ras Lanouf is in the hands of the opposition, although the regime’s forces have and will continue to raid towns along the Cyrenaican coast, including Benghazi, seat of the provisional National Council. It is not yet clear if Ras Lanouf is under opposition control. West of Ras Lanouf is still essentially in the hands of lotalyst forces.
We should also watch Az Zawiyah closely. Although Gheddafy’s troops launched an offensive to retake it, reliable reports indicate that the people of Az Zawiyah are resisting. At least 30 civilians had been killed and the town’s insurgent commander may be among the dead. Az-Zawiya (population 150,000) is only 40 km west of Tripoli. It is home to Libya’s second most important export refinery and to a university.
Tripoli, too, has not accepted to be bullied into silence. Beginning with the end of Friday prayers yesterday, over 1000 people came out to protest and were brutally suppressed by security forces. How long can this go on?