TRIPOLI, Libya – Cars sat abandoned in miles-long fuel lines, motorists traded angry screams with soldiers guarding gas stations, and many shops were closed Sunday on what should have been a work day.
In ever-multiplying ways, residents in the Libyan capital are feeling the sting of shortages from uprising-related disruptions of supplies.
The shortages are a dramatic sign of how Libya’s nearly 3-month-old rebellion – and the resulting chaos – is affecting daily life in Moammar Gadhafi’s stronghold and other western areas of Libya still under his rule. International sanctions have begun to bite, many supply routes are unstable, and there are shortages of skilled people in some sectors to keep the city running smoothly.
Yet the deprivations – however irksome – pale in comparison to the situation in the port city of Misrata, the only rebel stronghold in western Libya. It has been under siege by land for two months, with hundreds of civilians killed, and Gadhafi’s forces are now trying to block access to the port that is Misrata’s only lifeline.
In Tripoli, the shortages were obvious, even to Western reporters who may only leave their hotel with a government minder and guard.
An engineer based in Tripoli said Libyan TV blames the shortages on NATO, which is providing military muscle against Gadhafi, while average residents blame hardships on the regime. The engineer requested anonymity, saying he did not want to provoke the government.
Along the road linking Tripoli to Libya’s western border with Tunisia, long fuel lines were visible in a series of coastal towns. Libyan-plated cars crowded gas stations in two small Tunisian towns.
Tunisia’s official TAP news agency said Sunday that dozens of shells from fighting in Libya have fallen on Tunisian territory, drawing a new government protest. There were no reported injuries after the shells landed as Libyan troops fought with rebels to regain control of the Wazen-Dhehiba border post.