Libyan government officials are holding celebrations on the streets of Benghazi today to celebrate the one year anniversary of the nation’s “liberation” at what they consider the end of last year’s civil war. But did the war ever really end?
The Gadhafi regime may be gone, but the city-to-city fighting is still as intense as ever, with the new regime invading Bani Walid with the backing of militias and forcing an estimated 25,000 civilians from their homes.
Bani Walid was one of the last cities to fall in last year’s war, and is still flying the flag of Gadhafi-era Libya, an expression of the local tribesmen’s defiance of the new regime. The military reportedly has over 1,000 names of Bani Walid residents, out of 80,000 in the town overall, that it intends to arrest.
Fleeing an offensive is a no-brainer, figuring out where to go is another matter. In the new Libya your town affiliation is everything, and people from Bani Walid will find themselves unwelcome across much of the nation, persecuted for being from a “Gadhafi” town wherever they go. The civilians are reportedly avoiding major roads, fearing they will be captured by either the military or the notorious Misrata militia. Many are hoping to disappear into a major city like Tripoli for the duration of the fighting, but as Bani Walid gets invaded seemingly every month lately there is no clue how long they will be stuck there.