Celebrations Begin as Free East Libya Looks Toward Future

Residents Restore Services, Set Up Informal 'Interim Govt' in Benghazi

Celebrations have begun in earnest across East Libya, particularly in the major city of Benghazi, where locals have replaced the Gadhafi regime’s flag with the flag of the former Libyan Kingdom, now the flag of Free Libya.

Across Benghazi fireworks and loud music are being reported. The violence is over here, and the people have prevailed over the tyrant. Hospital officials say that the city saw some 320 protester deaths, likely the largest in the eastern half of the nation, and residents have also begun to take some time out of their celebrations to restore basic services, and have begun talks to set up an informal interim government, pending elections.

Exactly where they go from here remains to be seen, but the whole of East Libya, the historical province of Cyrenaica, is reportedly entirely out of Gadhafi’s reach now, and that appear to be more or less permanent. Meanwhile, protesters in Western Libya are carving out additional holding, liberating ever more cities from the government’s clutches, and leaving Gadhafi with at best contested rule over Tripoli and a handful of other cities.

For now the regime is still insisting that they are going to reclaim the country, but this appears to be a pipe dream, and their continued rule over what is left of Old Libya can likely be measured now in a matter of days.

The violent reaction of the Gadhafi regime to the protests has been nothing short of shocking, and has prompted a number of international figures to raise the prospect of military intervention to “save” the protesters. Beyond its complicating factors, this seems wholly unnecessary at this point, as the regime is clearly on its way out, and “foreign occupiers” are perhaps the only thing left that could grant them even a modicum of crediblity. Libya, minus a few cities that have yet to completely fall, is free now, and they did it entirely without the international community’s help, and indeed with early international backing for the regime.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.