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ZERO HOUR: Tripoli Falls;Gadhafi MIA;Sons Arrested

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[Illustration by TAMER YOUSSEF]

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Rebel forces in Libya surged into Tripoli Sunday, in what looks like the final days in power for Moammar Gadhafi and his sons. We should all first be grateful for the looming demise, after 42 years, of one of the world’s nastiest dictators. The U.S. and NATO interest now lies in executing as rapid a denouement as possible consistent with a minimum of bloodshed. The best outcome would be a quick Gadhafi exit, if not directly to some jail cell then to an Arab redoubt where he can sit in the prison of exile. The worst result would be an urban bloodbath, which would exacerbate tribal furies and make post-Gadhafi reconciliation that much harder. As we went to press Gadhafi wasn’t cooperating, saying he would fight in Tripoli “until the Obama_Libya.jpgend” and calling on allies around the country to save him. But journalists entering Tripoli with the rebels said they were greeted more by exultant residents waving rebel flags than by armed resistance. Wire reports out of the rebel capital of Benghazi said the rebels had captured two of Gadhafi’s sons, including Seif al-Islam, his heir apparent and for years the regime’s face to the West. The rebels lack any dominant single leader, which could mean a fractious scramble for power. So it’s at least a hopeful sign that Husam Najjair, one of their leaders, has said that “the first thing my brigade will do is set up checkpoints to disarm everyone, including other rebel groups, because otherwise it will be a bloodbath.” Another leader, Mustapha El Jalil, told Al Arabiya television that Gadhafi and his sons would get safe passage out of Libya if they left immediately. MORE

ALJAZEERA: Clashes erupted on Monday after tanks left Bab Azaziya, Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, and foreign journalists have been trapped inside the Rixos hotel. “They are not allowed to leave the hotel because there are Gaddafi men in the area and around the area,” Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, said from Green Square. “We have been in contact with some of them [journalists trapped in Rixos hotel] and they are telling us basically they were held there almost as human shields.” Throughout the night, euphoric Libyan rebels moved into the centre of Tripoli as Gaddafi’s defenders Obama_Libya.jpgmelted away and thousands of jubilant civilians rushed out of their homes to cheer the long convoys of pickup trucks packed with fighters shooting in the air. Green Square which has now been renamed Martyrs Square by the rebels had been the site of night rallies by Gaddafi supporters throughout the uprising. The rebels’ surprising and speedy leap forward, after six months of largely deadlocked civil war, was packed into just a few dramatic hours. By nightfall on Sunday, they had advanced more than 32km to Tripoli. There has been no word on the whereabouts of Gaddafi himself. Gaddafi has delivered a series of angry and defiant audio messages in recent days, vowing not to surrender. In the latest one, he acknowledged that opposition forces were moving into Tripoli and warned the city would be turned into another Baghdad. MORE

THE GUARDIAN: A rebel spokesman, Muhammad Abdel-Rahman, told the Associated Press that tanks had begun firing from the compound early in the morning and said that troops loyal to the Gaddafi were still a threat. As long as Gaddafi’s whereabouts were unknown, he added, the “danger is still out there.” Another rebel spokesman told Al Jazeera that pro-regime forces were estimated to be in control of 15-20% of Tripoli. On Sunday night, the Obama_Libya.jpgrebels said they had extended their influence over 95% of the capital. It is not known where Gaddafi is, with one rumour claiming him to have remained in his bunker and another locating him somewhere in Algeria. The rebels did, however, claim two important victories as one of the dictator’s sons, Muhammad, was placed under house arrest and another, Saif al-Islam – once considered the suave, British-educated face of the regime – was captured. The ICC, which wants to try Saif on charges of crimes against humanity, said he should be handed over. MORE

[Obama illustration by OSIPOVVA]

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