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Libyan Crisis Escalates

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It appears that Libya is now on the brink of civil war. From the Independent:

The rebel-held Libyan city closest to Tripoli was preparing for battle with government troops today.

Tanks and anti-aircraft weapons were deployed in Zawiya ready for an expected attack by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

The regime, eager to reinforce its view that Libya was calm and under its control, took visiting journalists to Zawiya, 30 miles west of the Tripoli yesterday.

But the tour merely confirmed that rebels controlled the centre of the city of 200,000 people.

While Gaddafi is claiming he is in control of the country, there are attempts being made to create an alternative to his government in cities outside of Tripoli:

In Libya's second-largest city of Benghazi, politicians are setting up a council to run day-to-day affairs in the eastern half of the country under their control. It was seen as the first attempt to create a leadership body that could eventually form an alternative to the Gaddafi government.

It remains unknown how far Gaddafi will go in order to maintain power, but given his vicious track record, it would be wise not to underestimate him. Resolving the crisis in Libya will be enormously complex, and it could explode at any time. It is an unclear case what role the West should play in helping Libya quell the violence, but freezing Gaddif's assets and applying extreme pressure on his government to abandon the long standing dicatator is certainly a start.

I do not subscribe to the notion that there should be a military intervention in Libya in the immediate future, but there is still the distinct possibility that Gaddafi may kill many more people if he feels he has to. If that turns out to be the case, the international community should be on stand by, because no more innocent people need to die.