Sunday, February 27, 2011
New/Old Libyan Tricolor Flag
The Old/New Libyan Flag is flown at Libyan Embassy/Consulate in Washington DC
The flag that flew over Libya during the monarchy that preceded Muammar al-Gaddafi's rule—a black, green, and red tricolor stamped with the star and crescent of half a dozen Muslim countries—reappeared on Benghazi's streets almost immediately after the first spasms of revolution this winter.
Within days, its resurrection had spawned an entire cottage industry: African immigrants set up antiquated sewing machines on the sidewalks, fabric shops reported shortages of the three hot colors.
Soon demonstrators were hoisting the flag above embassies in Rome and London, rebel fighters painted it on their gunstocks and computer-animated versions fluttered across YouTube.
The ubiquitous symbol of the revolution, an expression of the Libyan people’s longing for democracy?
Maybe. Where some Libyoligists saw a Libyan Old Glory, others saw, well, a red flag. Yes, the protestors talked about freedom and democracy, but they had claimed as their symbol the flag of a monarch much of the country had hated.
To understand the flag’s meaning, to understand the meaning of the whole awful-exhilarating-confusing situation unfolding in Libya now, it helps to go back to a much earlier revolt.
The year was 1915, and the land that makes up what is now Libya consisted of three Italian colonies: Tripolitania and Fezzan to the west, and Cyrenaica to the east.
The Senussi, a religious order of Muslims based in Cyrenaica, had just launched a guerilla war against both British and Italian troops in Cyrenaica and Egypt. They were ultimately routed, but their rebellion earned them a reputation for bravery and pride, and the banner they waved from the backs of their camels—a white star and crescent against a black background—became a regional symbol of resistance.
Years later, in the run-up to Libya's independence and unification after World War II, the three provinces chose the Senussi people's spiritual leader as their king—primarily, said the Libya historian Ronald Bruce St John, "because they didn’t have any other options."
Crowned in 1951, King Idris promptly plunked the Senussi insignia in the middle of Libya's new flag. The green and red stripes on either side represented Tripolitania and Fezzan, respectively.
For Western Libyans who suspected Idris of favoring his native Cyrenaica, the "marginalized" green and red stripes may have have seemed an inauspicious sign. “Probably not the most politic thing to do,” said St John.
Nor was it the last instance of poor political judgement on Idris' part. As St John explained, Idris was a reluctant and negligent ruler, especially when it came to western interests. “He liked to focus his time and energy on religious studies and religious affairs, and also tribal affairs in the east,” he said.
In September of 1969, a cohort of young army officers toppled Idris' regime, driving the king into exile in Egypt. An idealistic 27-year-old Tripolitanian named Muammar al-Gaddafi emerged as the country's new leader.
Gaddafi chose a simple design of white, red, and black horizontal bars for his regime's flag, inspired by neighboring Egypt's. The Libyan leader viewed Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser as a revolutionary hero.
Following Nasser’s death in 1970, Gaddafi attempted to merge Libya, Egypt, and Syria into an Arab super-state (it’s often said that Libya was never big enough to contain Gaddafi’s ego), and all three countries added to their flags a golden hawk of Quriash, the emblem of the prophet Muhammad's tribe.
The dream of a Gaddafi-led nation stretching from Tripoli to Damascus didn't pan out. In 1977, disgusted with Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and frustrated by both Syria and Egypt's refusal to submit to his authority, Gaddafi replaced the pan-Arab flag with what can most accurately be called a conceptual work of art: a solid-green rectangle. What better representation could there be of Gaddafi’s monomania and obsession, his insistence on total control?
If Gaddafi, who actually designed it, fell short of fulfilling his vision to revolutionize the Arab world, at least he revolutionized the world of flag making—it’s the only single-color national flag in existence.
Even its echoes of Minimalist painting are fitting: Libya, under Gaddafi’s rule, is a minimalist country, with no rights, no freedoms, few jobs. And if you believe Gaddafi’s rhetoric, no ruler. Gaddafi claims he’s a mere “symbol” of the people, a sort of human flag.
For proponents of freedom and democracy, it’s probably not much fun living in a country where the leader believes a single symbol suffices to reflect the ideals of the entire population, especially when he considers that symbol to be himself. (In general, when leaders take their iconography too seriously, things get scary; see Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.)
So it would seem to be a positive development that Libya now has two official flags—Gaddafi's and King Idris' original design, reclaimed by rebels as their own—as a growing contingent of national governments, including Italy, the Maldives, Qatar and France, have recognized the legitimacy of the rebels' National Transitional Council.
Yet assuming the rebels prevail—a huge assumption at this point—it’s unclear whether their republic will end up looking more like a true democracy or like Idris’ kingdom, where certain tribes enjoyed advantages over others.
Anti-Gaddafi fighters in the east have been quoted saying they’ve embraced their flag simply because it harkens back to a pre-Gaddafi Libya. But so far, they haven’t had much opportunity to test its popularity in the west, where, by many accounts, a lot of people still support Gaddafi.
If the rebels win and raise their flag over the western cities, will the local people salute it? And if they don’t, what happens?
In a 1951 speech announcing Libya’s independence, King Idris exhorted the country to “salute our sacred flag, the sign of our struggle and unity.”
After years of violence and oppression, maybe the words that came next in Idris’ speech will finally have some bearing on reality: “And we remember now the heritage of our forefathers, hoping that our new era, which starts as from today, will be a peaceful and salutary era for our beloved country.”
TIMELINE FEB. 26, 2011
BBC As it happened: Libya, Bahrain, Yeman, Egypt, Tunisa revolt on Saturday February 26, 2011
The Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, appears to retain full control of the centre of the capital Tripoli while new fighting has been reported in other parts of the city.
One of Col Gaddafi's sons, Saif al-Islam, admitted government troops had problems in two western cities, Misrata and Zawiya, and were hoping to negotiate ceasefires.
The UN Security Council is meeting again in New York on Saturday to consider a range of sanctions against Col Gaddafi, his family and supporters. A draft resolution, backed by the UK, France, Germany and the US, calls for an arms embargo, a travel ban and the freezing of assets.
The evacuation of foreign nationals by sea and air is continuing.
All times in GMT
1800 That brings to an end our minute-by-minute coverage of the crisis in Libya. Please stay with the BBC News website for all the latest updates on world events.
1754 On the subject of mercenaries, Saif al-Islam says "half the Libyan people are black", and that "our foreign minister is black. Is he a mercenary? Not every black person is a mercenary."
1751 On the events in Benghazi, Saif al-Islam says the army is not used to crowd-control, and that what happened in the city was a vicious circle in which nervous soldiers fired on people, and the people became angry, which triggered more clashes and more deaths and more anger, BBC Arabic reports. He added the coverage of state media of the events was a failure.
1746 More from Saif al-Islam, who was speaking in an exclusive pre-recorded interview shown on al-Arabiya TV: He describes what is happening in Libya as an "armed insurrection" which will end; he also says Misrata will return to state control, saying it is a city of 550,000 people which "won't cave in to 40 or 50 armed people", BBC Arabic Service reports.
1741 Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, says eastern Libya cannot break away from the rest of the country, Reuters reports.
1732 In neighbouring Tunisia, the interior ministry has announced traffic and pedestrians are banned on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, one of the Tunisian capital's main thoroughfares, following violent protests there on Saturday afternoon, AFP reports. The ban is in place from 1800 (1700 GMT) on Saturday until midnight on Sunday.
1729 Mercenaries have opened fire on protesters in Misrata, about 200km (125 miles) east of Tripoli, al-Arabiya TV reported in a screen caption a few minutes ago, BBC Monitoring reports.
1724 Phil Johnson, who says between 50 and 100 other expats are at the oil facility, adds they are beginning to run out of food, but are worried about leaving: "We dare not go west towards Tripoli because we've heard of Libyan colleagues actually just the other day, they were shot and killed just driving down the road trying to get to Tripoli."
1720 There's growing concern for up to 400 Britons who've been working in the Libyan oil fields amid reports that Col Gaddafi is arming his civilian supporters. Phil Johnson, who's from Lancashire, is stuck in Marsa el Brega - a settlement halfway between Benghazi and Tripoli. He says he's been getting regular updates from his wife back home in England - otherwise he remains in the dark about exactly when he will be able to make his escape: "We're actually learning more off our families than any official contacts, plus we're hearing conflicting information. Our contact people in Tripoli just yesterday said to me I would rather you come to Tripoli than go to Benghazi, and then my wife rang and said: 'No no, no, it's still horrific in Tripoli, round the airport, it's Armageddon'."
1714 More on the clashes in Sabratha: The al-Khuweildi al-Humaidi battalion opened fire in an area along a strip on the Mediterranean cost between the cities of Sabratha and Surman, the online version of Quryna reported, quoting its correspondent there, Reuters says. It did not specify the circumstances of the shooting and who the victims were.
1711 Barq, a Libyan opposition network on Facebook, has this snap: "Zawiya residents have denied reports on Libyan State TV of dialogue under way between them and the Gaddafi regime." It goes on to say that Gaddafi is "desperate to divert attention from the massacres he is committing" and that such broadcasts on state TV show that "his days are numbered".
1707 UN Security Council meets in urgent session to consider sanctions against Libya, AP reports.
1702 Dozens "severely wounded" after pro-Gaddafi battalion opens fire on protesters near Sabratha, west of Tripoli, according to Quryna newspaper, Reuters reports.
1700 The Guardian's Martin Chulov in Libya tweets: "Went to site of crashed Libyan air force jet today. Pilot refused to bomb oil depots & ejected. One bomb wedged in sand."
1655 Dima Khatib, an Arab journalist tweets: "I hear a few intellectuals speaking from liberated areas of Libya, concerned, saying they don't want foreign hands to intervene."
1651 More from Nesrine Malik of the Guardian: "From the beginning of this entire wave of protests, the UN and the US, the West in general, have been playing catch-up in terms of policy, in terms of rhetoric, and in terms of actual action. And what makes it more difficult is that Libya is a little bit more of a pariah state than Egypt and Tunisia, and Gaddafi is used to being a pariah and is used to being isolated, so there is not really much influence that anybody can have on him."
1645 Nesrine Malik, Middle East commentator for the Guardian newspaper, says of the sanctions they are a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted: "There has been relationships with Gaddafi in the past few years, the arms are already there, the weapons have already been sold to him, and therefore sanctions now seem to be a bit of a late option to take," she tells BBC World TV.
1640 Libyan Dude tweets: "There is a very uneasy quiet in Tripoli right now. Almost all security forces have retreated to somewhere... Wonder what they're up to."
1635 The BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN says much of the negotiations currently going on over Libya are focusing on the proposals relating to the International Criminal Court, specifically referring Libya to the court for an investigation into war crimes. Some states here are completely opposed to that, and some have questions about the language, our correspondent says.
1625 Glenn in Manchester, UK writes: "For once, the more powerful nations have a moral duty to intervene militarily. If they hesitate and prevaricate too much, there is the makings of a genocidal backlash against the protestors."
Have Your Say
1615 The BBC's Frank Gardner tweeted earlier: "Expect poss desperate measures now from Gaddafi + entourage as whats left of his regime appears cornered in NW #Libya"
1610 The plane transporting British evacuees from Libya via Malta has just landed at Gatwick airport.
1605 Libyan TV has been giving some attention to the situation in Zawiya, west of Tripoli. They've been saying that the situation there is back to normal, and they've had a number of callers who they said were from Zawiya, expressing support for the regime. A few minutes ago, they had this snap: "A number of families and parents in Zawiya have managed to convince their misguided children to hand in their weapons", BBC Monitoring reports.
1556 In Bahrain, five ministers change portfolios in a cabinet reshuffle, according to official sources quoted by AFP.
1552The BBC's Ben Ando at Gatwick airport reports the plane from Malta transporting British evacuees from Libya is now expected to arrive at 1602.
1545 Libyan TV says in an "urgent" screen caption the state news agency is under "piracy" attack, and gives a new web address: "Website of [state] al-Jamahiriyah News Agency (JANA) subjected to suspicious piracy operation", reports BBC Monitoring.
1542 More on the British nationals who arrived in Malta from Libya aboard the Cumberland earlier: They have opted to stay in Malta for a few days' rest or holiday, says the Foreign Office, but they hope to get most of them back on Saturday.
1537 Ali Tweel in Tripoli tweets: "I agree same here RT: @Ennaas: It's calmer today...no gunfire..!, just more planes fly over #Tajur'a #Libya"
1535 Mohammed Ennaas in Tajura (14km (9 miles) east of Tripoli) tweets: "It's calmer today...no gunfire..!, just more planes fly over #Tajur'a#Libya"
1533 In France, the authorities have said they are placing the assets of Col Gaddafi and his relatives under surveillance, French officials are quoted as saying by AFP.
1528 And AFP has just reported that there are violent clashes between demonstrators and government forces taking place in central Tunis.
1525 In Tunisia, where it all started, hundreds of journalists and technicians from the state-run TV broadcaster have gone on strike over what they say is continued government censorship of their dispatches, Reuters reports. State TV news bulletins have stopped. One striker, asking not to be named, told Reuters: "We are on strike demanding an end to all the pressure and to stop the censorship, and to allow us to work freely... We will not accept restrictions anymore."
1520 Free Libya in Tripoli tweets: "Even #Gaddafi's "voluptuous Ukrainian nurse" deserted him http://ow.ly/1s4UfO #Libya #Feb17"
1518 More from Hassan Mushaima, who told the BBC the royal family in Bahrain had failed to fulfil promises it had made to the people and that he wanted genuine democratic reform that could turn Bahrain into a constitutional monarchy: "[At] different times they have promised us [things], but they did not go with their words. If the societies agreed and the nation agreed for the... constitutional monarchy, a REAL one, that's something else. If they are really honest..., they are going to do it."
1512 We have more on what leading Shia politician Hassan Mushaima, whose return to Bahrain we reported earlier, said when he arrived at the airport in Manama. He told the BBC he wanted to be part of a unified opposition: "...Demands - that's up to the people on the ground who died there and who faced everything just to get their demands. So that's why I'm with the people and also I am with all the societies to sit and also to discuss all the demands and to say [speak with] one word, not different words and not different demands."
1507 Matthew Vella of Malta Today, reports: "Home affairs minister - Malta braces for 'worst scenario', surge in Libyan arrivals."
1505 Foreign Office (FCO) tweets: "RT @britishabroad Libya If you are having trouble contacting us by phone try Skype - we're listed as libyacharterflight"
1502BBC Arabic's Abderrahim El-Farsi, in Tripoli, confirms the city is quiet and there are no signs of the uprising. There are some security forces on the road leading to Zawiya, but Tripoli is under control, he adds.
1455 In the latest Libyan diplomatic defection, the Libyan ambassador to Somalia, Issa Ashur, has announced he is "joining the revolution", in protest at the Gaddafi regime's use of violence against demonstrators. He said he would continue to carry out his duties, but "as a representative of the Libyan people only", he has told BBC Arabic radio.
1448 More on the capture of Brig Gen Abu Bakr Ali in Misrata (1414): The statement on Libyan TV may refer to a video posted on Facebook on the same day, captioned "Brigadier-general from the Gaddafi regime who was captured by the brave sons of Misrata. Brigadier-General Abu Bakr Ali Mohamed al-Qadhafi", BBC Monitoring reports.
1443 As reported earlier, Tripoli remains calm after a night of sporadic gunfire. A Libyan journalist told the BBC that shops were open and people were going about their business. He said supporters of Col Gaddafi were occupying Green Square, in the centre of of the city.
1438 More from the BBC's Kevin Connolly on the situation in Benghazi where Libyan rebels are trying to run the city as normal (1231 entry): "But this is an abnormal reality. The burned out government barracks here, which were the scene of heavy fighting in recent days, have become a tourist attraction, with families taking photographs of each other in the blackened ruins."
1433 Anmar Kamalaldin in Bahrain tweets: "Thousands of ppl r here at the rally #bahrain #feb14 #lulu http://twitpic.com/43yi3z"
1428 More on the British charter plane that has landed in Tripoli: It is likely to be the last charter flight organised by the British government. All Britons remaining in Tripoli have been urged to board the plane.
1422The latest update from the Foreign Office says the Boeing 737 charter flight which has been sent to pick up Britons in Tripoli arrived just before 1345. The plan is that it will stay on the tarmac for as long as possible. There is space for 148 people on board. Apparently it can stay there for a maximum of six hours - but it isn't clear whether it will be allowed to do so.
1414 Libyan state TV has just put out an urgent screen caption saying Brig Gen Abu Bakr Ali Mohamed, a senior army officer, was captured by terrorist gangs in Misrata for "electronic support", which is assumed to mean the video footage of his plea to Col Gaddafi, reports BBC Monitoring.
1408 Thanks for joining us on the BBC's live page covering events in Libya and further afield in the region. To recap on Saturday's main developments so far, latest reports from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, say the city is quiet after a night of sporadic gunfire; in Bahrain a leading opposition figure has returned from self-imposed exile.
1403 A woman who left Libya with her parents last week and hopes her boyfriend can get an American flight out later on Saturday told the BBC the scenes she had encountered had been very frightening: "When the mob surged and we didn't realise at the time that they were escaping the police - we thought they were angry and surging towards us because there was chanting and stones being thrown. We had to grab on to the railings because we thought we were going to get taken away with it. But luckily it didn't happen; but the things we saw, I mean the police hunted those poor people like dogs with sticks and shouting - something I've never seen or want to see again in my life."
1349Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come out against imposing sanctions on Libya. "You cannot secure world peace by resorting to sanctions in each and every incident," he said in a televised public speech in Istanbul.
1347Public and private banks have re-opened many branches across Benghazi in a sign of returning normality, Reuters reports.
1343More from Bahrain on the return of opposition leader Hassan Mushaimaa. He was welcomed by supporters at the airport, where he told the BBC that he wanted genuine democratic reform that could turn Bahrain into a constitutional monarchy.
1340Here's a name we may hear more of: Muhammad al-Senussi, the heir apparent in Libya's overthrown monarchy. Interviewed by AFP, the successor to King Idriss praised the rebels in his homeland and urged the ejection of Col Gaddafi. The Libyan royal family was ousted by the colonel in 1969, and forced out of the country altogether in 1988. Does Mr Senussi want to regain the throne for his family? "I see myself as a servant to the Libyan people," he says. "They will decide what they want. My goal is to serve my people as much as I can."
1326Libya, again, is our focus for this Live Page. That said, it is worth mentioning that there are reports of rallies today not just in Bahrain but in Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria. In Yemen, leaders of two of the most important tribes abandoned the president and joined the opposition movement, AFP reports.
1325We are beginning to see reports on Twitter of a pro-democracy rally in Bahrain, currently heading towards the prime minister's office.
1324The FCO adds that it has helped 600 British nationals to leave Libya to date. It is "still deeply concerned about those in Benghazi and in the desert" and is "urgently continuing to explore all possible options available".
1321The security situation at Tripoli airport has been deteriorating in recent hours and the route to the airport is becoming more precarious, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office reports.
1318We have just received a correction from Cairo about the meeting of Egypt's Ruling Higher Military Council. The Council did not approve the constitutional amendments after all, but simply agreed to put them to a referendum.
1313Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi warns that the crisis in Libya could slow growth internationally: "The dramatic events we are witnessing may undermine investment in the oil industry in the area and raise energy prices, with repercussions for world growth."
1309The streets of Tripoli have been calm today, the Associated Press news agency reports. Many residents ventured out and said the city was safe. Privately, some residents said the government was arming civilian supporters to set up checkpoints and quash dissent.
1305Supporters of Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir have been protesting outside the Libyan embassy in London. They called on Col Gaddafi to resign and waved placards advocating the Islamic way of life.
1257Here's an update from Bahrain, the tiny but strategically important Gulf state also convulsed by recent protests. Shia Muslim opposition leader Hassan Mushaimaa has just arrived home from exile, Reuters says. He had received a royal pardon after being tried in absentia for an alleged coup plot.
1252 Ali Tweel in Tripoli tweets: "Every man has his breaking point, I don't know it until I reach it. I hope mine is in a galaxy far far away!"
1251Al-Jazeera TV reports that there is video showing Libyan security forces arresting and killing two young protesters in the al-Fashum area of Tripoli on Friday. "Protesters who filmed the incident said that after killing the two young men, the security brigades removed their bodies to an unknown destination amidst an intensive barrage of gunfire," the broadcaster says.
1247Update on Carole Blakeway's husband Tony, who was stranded in the Libyan desert: He is believed to be travelling to the nearest port in an armed convoy.
1244UK Prime Minister David Cameron and other European leaders have agreed the UN and EU should take urgent action to deal with the Libyan crisis, including tough sanctions, Reuters reports, quoting a British spokesman. "There was clear agreement that the actions of the Libyan regime were totally unacceptable and that brutality and intimidation would not be tolerated," the spokesman said.
1241Mohamed, who lives in the Libyan city of Misurata, has told the BBC it is under the control of the opposition but the situation is tense: "There are a lot of people who are still in the streets with guns. They're defending the city because a lot of Gaddafi's army [is] coming here and try to attack the airport, attacking the television, attacking the radio station. We think there are some other attacks but we're still ready."
1234 Up to 500 Britons remain in Libya. Carole Blackeway's husband Tony is stranded in a desert camp in Amal, south of Benghazi. She told the BBC she was increasingly worried about his safety: "Even though he is trying to be careful not to alarm me, his e-mails are getting more and more worrying. The army and their private armed security have left and they are stuck in their compound. A minibus with armed security arrived earlier but my husband got off it, after boarding, because he did not feel safe. I don't know if any of the other men with him continued on, but I doubt Tony would have got off by himself, as there is a real group mentality among these men. I have spoken to the Foreign Office three times today and they tell me they are trying to arrange a way of getting them out. I'll do whatever it takes to get him back."
1231 The Libyan rebels are consolidating their hold in the east, the BBC's Kevin Connolly reports from Benghazi. They are trying to ensure basic services including food deliveries continue more or less as normal, and are setting up committees to run Benghazi in the future.
1228 This just in from BBC Arabic's Cairo office: The Ruling Higher Military Council in Egypt has approved amendments to the constitution but delayed a debate about presidential powers until a permanent constitution is drafted. The approved amendments include re-instating judicial oversight of elections and introducing presidential term limits. Presidents will be allowed a maximum of two four-year terms.
1222Libya's man in Tehran has called on Col Gaddafi to step down, Iranian news agency Fars reports. The ambassador, Sad Mujbir, called on the Libyan leader to step down and end the bloodshed, letting "the people" rule instead.
1217 A Turkish plane has brought 21 Rwandan evacuees from Libya to Istanbul, Turkish news agency Anatolia reports.
1213 Naser, living in Tripoli, has told the BBC World Service that gunmen in an ambulance were among those who opened fire after Friday prayers. He broke into tears as he related the attack: "And then we saw [an] ambulance coming. We were so happy - at least they'd take these wounded people. When the ambulance stopped, the back door opened. Armed people came out of the ambulance and started shooting at the people. I can't explain the feeling how it was. I was terrified. I mean, [an] ambulance."
1156 Did you know that Shakespeare was an Arab by origin, descended from a Mr Sheikh Zubayr, and that America derived its name from an emir by the name of Ka? These are just some of the theories advanced by Col Gaddafi over the years, according to an AFP profile.
113 8BBC Monitoring notes that the Libyan state news agency, Jana, has not filed anything since 1826 GMT on Friday. Not that it was saying much about the unrest, anyway.
1131 Flash from Reuters: Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has said it seems that Col Gaddafi is no longer in control of Libya. Mr Berlusconi has been one of the colonel's few friends among European leaders.
1127 Finance columnist for the UK's Daily Telegraph Jeremy Warner tweets : "Top end of London property market apparently v busy again. Lots of Middle Eastern buyers. Wonder why."
1125 Today's Live Page is devoted to events in Libya but we may occasionally mention news from other parts of the Middle East. There are two developments in Egypt, BBC Arabic correspondent Mahmoud el Said reports. Youth protest leaders are meeting now to discuss their response to the army's forceful evacuation on Friday of protesters from Cairo's Tahrir Square. The army itself, which is of course running the country pending free elections, is due to review the first draft of constitutional amendments.
1116 Another pundit quoted by AFP - a spokesman for the Geneva-based Libyan League for Human Rights who asked not to be named - explains the difference between the three countries' prospects: "Tunisia and Egypt also had dictators but with a constitution, a parliament, elections and a semblance of democracy. All this is foreign to Libya, making the challenge a bit more difficult." A bit more, indeed
1111 Libya is not Egypt and not Tunisia, analyst Khalil Matar has told AFP news agency. An end to Col Gaddafi's rule would create a transition period for a divided country whose institutions are weak, despite oil wealth and the enthusiasm for freedom and democracy. "Tribal alliances are more important than anything else," says the author of Lockerbie and Libya.
110 6This just in from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office: British nationals who were on Cumberland have been put up in hotels in Malta. Charter flights will be provided to bring them back to the UK over the weekend, the FCO says.
1103Some harrowing personal stories of evacuees aboard the Cumberland are being reported by the UK Ministry of Defence. Richard Weeks, 64, said he had been robbed at knife point. The 64-year-old contracts manager from Sully near Cardiff had been working on a clean water project in Libya. "We were faced with looters rushing into the property where we were holed up and there was nothing we could do," he said. "They were armed with knives and knew they could take what they wanted, so it was better to let them get on with it. It was a very sad and terrifying situation. I've lived between Cardiff and Benghazi for 20 years and the hope is that the country can return to peace soon."
1056 A British warship carrying evacuees from Libya also docked in Malta today. The frigate HMS Cumberland left Benghazi with more than 200 passengers, at least 60 of them British. It had to travel at a reduced speed because of the rough weather in the Mediterranean.
1054 Something to watch for: the UN Security Council is meeting again later today to consider sanctions against Col Gaddafi, his family and supporters. The BBC's Newsnight programme has taken a fascinating look at his son Saif's UK connections.
1051 Jeel Ghathub tweets: "Take resignations with a pinch of salt. Although they r good indications, remember these ppl supported #Gaddafi for 42yrs"
1049 More on China's effort: A chartered plane carrying 275 of its nationals, who were evacuated from Libya, has left Cairo for Beijing.
1046 Jibreel tweets: "The vow by #Benghazi to march on #Gaddafi 's palace is inspirational. I wish I was with my brothers and sisters."
1042 A cruise ship chartered by China has docked in Malta carrying 2,216 Chinese nationals evacuated from Libya as well as dozens of other foreign citizens, Chinese state media say.
1039 Jad Assary in Tripoli tweets: "Going out, Try to buy some food... It's Running out !! O.o"
1025What's Libyan state TV's latest take on the revolt against Col Gaddafi? BBC Monitoring picked up a commentary this morning which accuses foreign media of a "t wisted campaign" to falsify information. "The truth is that the battle is among sleeper cells affiliated to al-Qaeda and its leader Bin Laden, who planted these cells long time ago," it says.
1018 Gunfire was heard during the night in Tripoli and electricity supplies were cut, eyewitnesses say. Protesters in the second city, Benghazi, are camping out by the courthouse in solidarity with people in the capital. "I would like to say to those who live in Tripoli that we will join you soon, we will come to support you," one protester, Abdallah Alaamamy, told Reuters news agency.
1002 Thousands of Egyptian workers trying to flee Libya are streaming across the western border with Tunisia, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from the scene. Dragging heavy suitcases, they face a daunting and protracted journey home.
0951 Germany's Green party is calling for a boycott of petrol stations belonging to the Libyan government, the German daily Bild reports. It seems there are 400 of them in Germany alone.
0946 Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the continuing revolt against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's rule in Libya. Stay with us for the latest updates - reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and your reaction from around the world. You can contact us via e-mail, text or Twitter. We'll publish what we can.