Libyan leader/fashion icon Muammar Gaddafi might have to file for unemployment soon, as it seems rebel fighters in his country—emphasis on "his," at least until now—have put down their bongs and taken control of several cities. Now they're gearing up to take over Tripoli, the Libyan capital city. Like, for real this time.
As you might expect from an uprising situation, conflicting news reports have made knowing exactly what the hell's going on over there a bit tricky. For your convenience and edification, we've distilled reliable-seeming talking points into a handy-dandy list for you. Use it at brunch (Shoney's) today:
- Rebels have taken over cities in the metro Tripoli region, and with the help of NATO war planes are pushing forward with their assault. The cities include Zawiya, which is on the coast, Zlitan, which lies to Tripoli's east, Ghariyan, to the south, and the town of al-Mayah. The government's denying the Zlitan takeover.
- The rebels might also have taken control of Brega, home of Libya's second largest hydrocarbon complex (which you already knew).
- And Al-Jazeera reports that fighting's underway in Tajoura, a Tripoli suburb, and in Souk Al-Jumma, a market area. "We will strangle Qaddafi's troops tonight," says National Transitional Council leader/important rebel Mustafa Abdel Jalil.
- Gaddafi's security forces stationed in Tripoli are greeting protesters with machine guns and mortars.
- As one might expect, Gaddafi has responded to the uprising by saying crazy narcissistic things. "The collaborators with the West are moving from one town to the next claiming control, but they are not in control, they are escaping like rats," he said in a radio broadcast. "People are kissing my picture. I am their leader, I am their father."
- Hmmm, make that "deadbeat dad"? Some reports say he's fled the country, but the U.S. State Department can't confirm it.
- Gaddafi's also accusing western leaders of giving the rebels weapons and things "to destroy our air-conditioners." Oh no, not the air conditioners! It's pretty hot in Libya.
- Meanwhile, a Tunisian news agency says oil minister Omran Abukraa's defected to Tunisia, and two other government officials have also fled. The rebels want Gaddafi to leave because it will be cheaper for them and also minimize bloodshed, but they don't expect him to cooperate.
- Citizens are receiving text messages asking them to join in the rebellion.
- Moussa Ibrahim, a spokesman for Gaddafi's government, is confident that the rebels aren't winning. "Tripoli is well protected and we have thousands upon thousands of professional soldiers who are ready to defend this city," he says.
- But U.S. assistant secretary of state Jeffrey D. Feltman says Qaddafi's days "are numbered." Who you gonna believe?