The vice around Moammar Gaddafi’s neck is twisting ever tighter.
Al Jazeera reports that the Libyan strongman has lost control of more cities in the strife-torn country in defiance of his vow to crush all anti-government protests.
Meanwhile, more government officials and waves of soldiers have joined the side of the protesters.
Demonstrators in the city of Misrata, east of the capitol Tripoli, said they have gained control after military officers pledged to offer total support for the protesters.
Apparently, Gaddafi is gradually losing control of much of the eastern half of the nation.
From what I've seen, I'd say the people of eastern Libya are the ones in control, an Al Jazeera reporter Hoda Abdel-Hamid, said.
She added that there were no Libyan government officials guarding the border with Egypt at certain crossing points.
All along the border, we didn't see one policeman, we didn't see one soldier and people here told us they [security forces] have all fled or are in hiding and that the people are now in charge, meaning all the way from the border, Tobruk, and then all the way up to Benghazi,” she told Al Jazeera.
People tell me it's also quite calm in Bayda and Benghazi. The do say however that ‘militias’ are roaming around, especially at night. They describe them as African men; they say they speak French so they think they're from Chad.
Indeed, Al Jazeera stated that Major General Suleiman Mahmoud, who commands of the armed forces in the city of Tobruk, we are on the side of the people, he said.
With almost total media control by the state (or what’s left of it), news out of Libya is often incomplete or speculative.
The estimate of the number of people who have died over the past week of unrest range from 300 to as high as 1000.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi apparently remains defiant against the protesters and perhaps, increasingly divorced from reality. In a bizarre and often incoherent televised speech yesterday, he vowed to crush the rebels and that he would never leave Libya, preferring to die as a “martyr.”
More gunfire was reported in Tripoli, where a small group of pro-Gaddafi loyalist staged a rally in The Green Square.
Still, more and more Libyan diplomats across the globe are defecting or have resigned in protest of Gaddafi’s brutal crackdown on demonstrators.
General Abdul-Fatah Younis al-Abidi, the country's former interior minister, resigned his post last night to support the protest movement. He beseeched the Libyan army to join the people and their legitimate demands.
Also, Youssef Sawani, a senior aide to one of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, resigned to express dismay against violence, according to Reuters.