As of early July, rebel forces are only 60 miles from the Libyan capital Tripoli.
The war is continuing in the Nafusa mountains to the south, and the rebels are advancing from the east, although Misrata is still being shelled by government forces.
Qaddafi is thought to be hiding out in hotels and hospitals. This kind of ending is what we hope for for all Shahs, Tsars, Caesars and despots of all kinds.
In desperation Qaddafi has called for attacks on civilians in Europe in retaliation for NATO attacks on loyalist forces — on homes, offices and families of those who are attacking him.
But the burgeoning complaint from rebel forces over the past week has been that NATO forces are holding them back and being too delicate about destroying enemy armour.
NATO is nervous about the consequences of the rebels taking Tripoli, in terms of civilian casualties and retaliatory hostilities; and the ragtag rebel militia probably isn’t in a fit state to take the city if there is any sustained opposition from loyalist forces.
The key to the taking of Tripoli is what it always has been — an uprising from the masses of the city itself — an uprising which hasn’t been visible since the brutally suppressed demonstrations back in February.
Glimmers of the insurrection are evident, but they will not amount to much until the city is on the verge of being taken.
However, Tripoli is surrounded, and Qaddafi can surely not evade capture or elimination for long now.
Qaddafi’s genocidal posturing has continued. His calls for a march to the western mountains are incoherent and in no way practical.
There remain both loyalist forces and loyalist civilians. Although recent pro-regime demonstrations in Green Square have been staged, there is still a large degree of support for Qaddafi in Tripoli. Any kind of warfare in the city is bound to be hugely bloody.
That is perhaps inevitable, outside of a negotiated settlement. That settlement can no longer include Qaddafi, Saif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Sanoussi, although it might be settled by a betrayal of Qaddafi by his immediate military clique who will be looking to save their own skins
It is clear that rebel forces and NATO are in close collusion. The rebels cannot do without NATO. NATO suspicion of the rebels is quite evident.
The transitional regime in Benghazi is amenable to NATO and clearly sees aid from the US, the UK, France and Italy as the reason why it was not militarily liquidated by loyalist forces months ago.
In the liberated parts of Libya, press freedom, multi-party democracy and a developing civil society look entirely on the cards. Little wonder that nobody in the east has any kind of Qaddafi-restorationist tendencies.
The decisive question is Tripoli. Tripoli itself is central only because of the figure of Qaddafi. The decentralisation and fragmentation of the old regime left little of state power in the city. If anything Misrata had more claim to be the financial capital of the state.
Tripoli is significant because it is where the symbolic power of the regime resides – invested in the personality of the ”Colonel” himself.
The future for us however critically resides in the masses of Tripoli and their will for freedom. We can neither trust or rely on NATO, nor forget about the people’s revolt and backhandedly support Qaddafi by way of clamour against NATO attacking him.