"I hold a banner drenched in blood, I urge you to be brave, I lead you to your destiny, I lead you to your grave. Your bones will build my palaces, your eyes will stud my crown, for I am Mars, the God of war, and I will cut you down."
Colonel Gaddafi has launched his most vicious assault to date striking out east and west from his Tripoli stronghold.
At the moment Zawiya is bearing the brunt of Gaddafi's firepower. Situated about half-an-hour's drive west of the Libyan capital it is in the worst possible position out of all the urban centers held by the anti-Gaddafi rebels. It is cut off with no supply lines available and if the Libyan colonel's forces keep up their heavy assault unchecked then the rebels' position may become untenable and they may have to capitulate. With no hope of reinforcements Zawiya's fate looks increasingly bleak.
A similar fate awaits Misrata to the east of Tripoli. To expect a heroic defense of either city that will miraculously repel Gaddafi's forces indefinitely is unrealistic. The Libyan leader is encouraged by international indecision as to what to do about the situation and is using this opportunity to try and retake the cities and towns nearest Tripoli. He is also sending his aging air force to pound rebel positions farther east in Ras Lanuf. The rebels will fight to the last man because the course of war inevitably dictates: Vae victis*, even if they don't speak Latin.
Which is why the people of Zawiya defended by the rebels have actually repulsed a brutal onslaught despite the Brother Leader's overwhelming superiority in firepower, equipment and troops.
The wily and crafty Gaddafi must know that he only has a limited window of opportunity to achieve his immediate goals in order to maneuver himself into a stronger bargaining position. If I was in his shoes I would be getting increasingly angry and agitated at the lack of any substantial achievement so far on the part of the elite units sent in to battle the rebels. The gains on the ground have so far been minuscule when compared to the spent ammunition.
So can the anti-Gaddafi population and rebels hold out until the world figures out what to do?
The West is obviously seeking Arab cover for whatever action it is contemplating in Libya. So far the Gulf Cooperation Council has taken the lead but the Arab world as a whole needs to move quickly.
That the rest of the Arab republics are maintaining silence is an indication of how vulnerable they themselves feel and, in my mind, probably hoping that the Libyan leader emerges victorious.
Colonel Gaddafi is not fighting to preserve Libya's sovereignty; he's battling for his survival. Which is why his forces are firing on unarmed Libyans demanding his ejection from power as you can see in this report by Sky's Alex Crawford. Make sure you read the full report.
In political terms world inaction does not mean apathy, and Gaddafi who dueled for decades with much of the world, and now living on borrowed time, knows that very well.
This is not a civil war as a lot of the world's media is now reporting. Journalists love to latch onto a catchphrase or a concept and repeat it until it seemingly becomes a fact. This is about a people's struggle to eject a despotic leader with much blood on his hands. Do not be fooled by his supporters in Tripoli. Those same streets echoing to the chants of Gaddafi's infallibility will also be the site of jubilant celebration at his eventual downfall. This is a war of liberation.
The trap continues to be sprung, crimes committed against the the innocent and someone somewhere is going to make a fortune from this tragedy.
It's time for the rebellion's political leadership in Benghazi to get on the ball and be proactive. We are told, by the media again, that Gaddafi now has the momentum. They are wrong. He is fighting out of fear and rage, lashing out at the the people who fight out of conviction.
His troops are far away from their homes and families fighting for a lieutenant who overthrew an aging monarch for the good of the people, he said. But then the officer crowned himself the King of Kings. Which is why Zawiya repulsed his vicious assault.
While he has been the one issuing the threats, some reverse psychology is in order. Now is the time for ultimatums, not negotiations. It is the only language Muammar al-Gaddafi and despots of his ilk understand.
* Woe to the vanquished
A man on a long journey through a perpetual desert.
The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the views of any of my employers, past, present or future.