Euphoria turns to confusion as Saif reappears in Tripoli
Tripoli now a divided city with both the Gaddafis and the rebels claiming they are in control
Not for the first time in the long battle for control of Libya, the Gaddafi family have confounded their enemies by bouncing back from adversity. Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, who was reported yesterday to be in rebel custody, appeared in the capital early today boasting to journalists that his father's regime was still in control and had "broken the backbone" of the rebel offensive.
Saif al-Islam drove up to the Rixos hotel, headquarters of the western journalists, and claimed that by entering Tripoli the rebels had walked into the regime's trap. "We gave them a hard time, so we're winning," he said.
It was unclear how he had escaped rebel custody - or even if he had ever been captured as the rebel leaders had claimed.
Saif also travelled over to his father's Bab al-Azizia compound, the scene of heavy fighting yesterday. According to the BBC, he told three journalists accompanying him: "Tripoli is under our control. Everyone should rest assured."
With both the Gaddafis and the rebel leaders now claiming they control the capital, sorting truth from fiction is not easy. Eyewitnesses say Gaddafi's green flag still flies over parts of Tripoli, while there are reports that the Gaddafi regime is moving troops back into Tripoli from strongholds outside the capital.
Yet in Benghazi the National Transitional Council claims it is just waiting for Tripoli airport to be secured before they fly into the capital and start the business of governing the new Libya.
The New York Times reports Saif's appearance has raised "significant questions about the credibility of rebel leaders".
Robert Fox, who reports on defence matters for The First Post, believes Tripoli is currently a divided city under nobody's control.
"Once again, we are seeing a conspiracy of optimism," says Fox, as euphoria among media, politicians and the military turns to confusion.
"There appears to be no overall command among the rebels who now find themselves fighting street by street." ·
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