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Qaddafi woos tribes, fears defeat

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With each progress the revolutionaries make, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi loses ground. Feeling that a defeat might be more imminent than he expected, Colonel Qaddafi is now seeking all the support he can garner. The tribes can be his only remaining hope.

Following a statement issued by a forum of East Tripoli tribes, which condemned the revolutionaries as saboteurs, speculation has been rife about the role tribes will play in the next stage of the revolution in Libya.

“We call for penalizing all those who engaged in vandalism and all those who sought the help of foreign powers or facilitated military intervention in Libya,” said that statement. “Those have committed high treason.”

East Tripoli tribesmen reiterated Mr. Qaddafi’s famous words that pledge to liberate “every street, every alley, every house, and every inch” of Libya, according to the official Libyan news agency JANA.

They also added all the tribes of East Tripoli will unite to liberate Misrata and the eastern parts of what they dubbed “the armed gangs.”

The forum is another of Colonel Qaddafi’s games to buy time and try to pull as many Libyans as possible to his side, said Libyan academician Mahmoud Amlouda.

“Tribes have never been part of the political process in Libya, and this pathetic forum has no credibility whatsoever,” he told Al Arabiya.

Dr. Amlouda added that those who spoke at the forum were not representatives of the tribes living in East Tripoli.

“I am sure those tribes have honorable men who would struggle for freedom and work toward establishing a new regime other than the current tattered one,” he said.

For Libyan journalist and political analyst Tarek al-Quraizi, the term “East Tripoli,” which refers to tribes around Misrata, was not used before.

“The fact that Qaddafi called the tribes living there by that name reveals his belief that Misrata is the gateway to Tripoli and shows how worried he is about the fate of Tripoli following the fall of Misrata,” he told Al Arabiya.

Tribes, Mr. Quraizi added, are Mr. Qaddafi’s last resort since he hopes he can arm them and make up for his defeat in Misrata.

“This plan will not work since Qaddafi knows that arming tribes is dangerous for him. They can at any time turn against him and join the revolutionaries,” he said, Colonel Qaddafi knows “how strategic Misrata is and therefore is desperate to control it if not by taking it over then by forging an alliance with the tribes surrounding it, thus imposing some kind of siege on the city then using tribesmen to crush the revolution.”

“Qaddafi will not hesitate to do all what he can to brutally suppress the rebellion. He has reached a dead end, especially with the West wanting him out. He is desperate,” Mr. Quraizi said.

(Sonia Farid of Al Arabiya translated this article. She can be reached at,: sonia.farid@mbc.net)