Reliable reports tell us that Aysha’s house, in Al Hani District, may be bombed by NATO. Source claims to have received info that NATO have been sending warnings. Security outside, usually heavy, is now non existent. A petrol station nearby, where queues have stretched for kilometres, is now shut. There are no cars queuing at the station. Usually queues remain outside stations that are out of fuel in anticipation of a delivery.
**Confirmed updates from our valuable source in Tripoli.**
Reliable reports that Ayshas house and Muatisms house in Tripoli, Al Hani District and Al Dul Street respectively, will be bombed. Loop warnings to military over past 3 days.
Security, usually plentiful at the gates, have now entirely disappeared. Local petrol station has now closed. Neighbours have NOT been officially informed but have been informed via leaks! If indeed the targets are hit, the regime knew about it in advance, and neighbours were not informed, is this a war crime / crime against humanity?
Have personally spoken to a high ranking military official today who has informed me that 2 nights ago there was a fire fight between security forces within the compound of Bab Alazaziyah. Very similar to a previous incidents some 6 weeks ago or more. Exact response to the clash – immediate instigation of Benghazi rumour on State TV and orders to celebrate. He confirms the shooting did not involve activists but was rather an internal affair!
Spoke to a second military officer this afternoon who came to find me to pass on the info that there is news between his ranks that a plan was being finalised to send troops by sea to Misrata and Benghazi. This was before the hit on the navy facilities. There is suggestion that NATO might have received intelligence and therefore attacked the navy. He confirms that this plan is no longer in operation.
Heavy talk on the streets of Tripoli of annoyance that reporters are reporting Tripoli as ‘normal’. This in light of very recent reports by SKY and BBC suggesting “Tripoli is normal”.
This was discussed at our meeting today and the consensus of our group is:
Reporters can only report what they see. Quite rightly, Tripoli currently does not appear to be a city at war. But suggestion of ‘normality’ must be qualified. Normality is relative. To know what the norm is for Tripoli you must have a baseline based on a pre-uprising assessment.
Reporters should note that in Tripoli, shops normally close at 2 or 3 am in main shopping districts. Ben Ashour is known at times to ‘never sleep’. Now shops close soon after Mughreb prayer.
Reporters should also take note that whilst shops are indeed open, 70% are closed. Of those which are open, some have been harassed to open (our family shop included – story below), some open because it is their only lifeline and can not afford to join the boycott, some are loyalists, some open as an excuse to gather (including key shops where activist meetings take place in key districts).
Reporters should also note that the university (huge) is borderline empty! That schools are borderline empty. It is the middle of term time. My nieces and nephews and young cousins have not gone to school for months. They are not the exception to the rule.
There are checkpoints all over town which intensify in number and in paranoia after dark.
There is gunfire every night without exception.
So whilst the consensus is that reporters are forgiven for reporting normality, to those of us that know ‘normal Tripoli’, it is far from accurate.
Everyone, however, understands the difficulty and restrictions the media are under.
The story of our family shop.
As part of wide spread boycott, our shop decided to close after 17th Feb. We were approached, like many along our row, and asked why we were closed. When we responded that it was fear from the instability we were ordered to open in the next 24 hours. When the security men returned 2 days later they asked why we had still not opened. We replied that there was a staff shortage. They told us, in no uncertain terms, to open even if ‘the shop is empty and you sell nothing’. We were told that the shop MUST NOT remain closed under any circumstances. For a while our shop opened. When i realised this i approached the family members who make the decisions and said that it was unacceptable that we open our own shop whilst i go around preaching a city wide boycott. I was told that recently we had been approached by security men and told, ‘thank you for opening up and showing your loyalty to your country, of course if you decide to close again we will take the shop and open it for you. Have a good day’. This is not a unique conversation. This will have happened thousands of times over in tripoli.
My reply was that we should continue to give excuses to buy time but ultimately MUST close our shop. If they confiscate our shop then so be it. We are fighting to liberate a nation….with it we will liberate our shop.
Our shop now remains closed.
Many people around Tripoli find themselves in similar dilemmas. Some have not got the conviction to carry through with a boycott. Others cannot financially afford to. Many are overcome by the harassment. And yet still…..the majority of shops in Tripoli are shut!
Fashloum, Ben ashour and Zaweeyat al Dahmani form a kind of shopping triangle district. In these 3 areas 80% of
shops are shut. If anyone wants video evidence i can provide it, along with google map images to show where the streets are.
There continue to be increasing, daily, armed attacks in Tripoli. Armed attacks in the past few days that i can CONFIRM are Soug al Jomaa and Al Hadba.