Journalists In Libya: Drinking Cappuccino In A Luxury Hotel As the Bombs Fall

Those western journalists and “war correspondents” in Tripoli are really sweating it out. They are staying at the luxuriant Rixos Hotel. Here’s a “frontline dispatch” from Germany’s Der Spiegel:

The bombing represents a new phase in the war over Libya, say NATO officials, who are trying to increase pressure on Gadhafi. They know that time is short, now that the Libyan leader appears to have his back against the wall. In Tripoli, it feels as if the NATO forces were now directly targeting the dictator, a man responsible for the deaths of so many people. In theory, however, Gadhafi can not be made into a target, because the United Nations resolution on Libya only permits the Western forces to engage in actions intended to protect civilians.

This foxhole costs $435 a night

Meanwhile, a group of reporters from around the world are holed up in the five-star luxury of the Rixos, watching the hunt at close range — in an atmosphere that couldn’t be more bizarre, at room prices of €300 ($435) a night and dinner at $50 a person.

Some would call it perverse, the idea that journalists are spooning the foam from their cappuccinos in the hotel’s outdoor bar while precision bombs rip apart bunkers and probably soldiers just beyond the nearby trees. But life at the Rixos and at Bab al-Aziziya follows its own rules. Gadhafi’s people escort the reporters to the hotel, and guards are posted in the driveway to prevent them from setting out on their own. Anyone who wants to investigate the situation outside the hotel must do so in the company of a friendly government “minder.” Of course, this makes it impossible to speak with rebels in the city.

Better Wear A Helmet…

Gadhafi only wants the foreigners to see the conflict from his standpoint, and his spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, is responsible for enforcing his wishes. When Gadhafi appeals to the rest of the world, he usually does so through Ibrahim, speaking in a conference room at the Rixos.

Ibrahim is also staying at the Rixos, which happens to be the safest place for members of the regime. After all, NATO will hardly bomb a hotel filled with Westerners. Indeed, a member of the regime’s propaganda machine jokes that Gadhafi himself is probably holed up in a bunker beneath the hotel, and there are even rumors that he could be staying in a separate wing of the building.”

You can read the full story here.

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