Since the beginning of the libyan rebellion, the foreign press has been forced to stay at the Rixos hotel, in Tripoli, not far away from Gaddafi’s residence and headquarters, at Bab al Aziza (See map below for details). Until recently, the hotel was a also used by the families of Gaddafi’s high officials as a safe heaven. Libyan TV also used the hotel for a while as a temporary headquarters after its official headquarters were destroyed by NATO air strikes. In the last few days, Rixos (a Turkish owned resort) has become a center of attention for Gaddafi’s last loyal troops, which congregated around it and which occupy part of its grounds.
UDPATE: On August 21, in the evening (22nd morning, Libyan time) M Chance of CNN made the explosive revelation that Saif, Gaddafi’s son, is well, alive, and free and that it showed up at the hotel.
The BBC correspondent gave this moving picture of the tense mood at the hotel on August 21, 2011:
We dined in flak jackets – helmets by our side. And as the Iftar meal, the breaking of the fast ended, so too did the relative silence.
Heavy weapons opened up again, explosions outside the hotel.
Pro-Gaddafi forces set up a checkpoint on the road outside. We were trapped inside a target for the rebels.
Libyan Information Minister Moussa Ibrahim called perhaps his final news conference.
Nato was destroying his country, he said. He appealed for a ceasefire – otherwise there would be huge loss of life, he told us.
Outside in the hotel lobby one of the younger armed men was shouting at a member of the media, accusing him of calling in information to the rebels. We edged away from him and his AK-47.
In another corner the quiet and polite Dr Aguila – the man who was in charge of the foreign press for the Libyan government – walked past me, still in the casual untucked shirt he wears, but now clutching a gun.
Last week he told me that he was prepared if needed to head to the front line to defend his country. Too late I thought.
Another great recounting of the Rixos hotel mood, pre-August 2011.
“Attention, all journalists!”
The disembodied call to coverage piped into rooms at the Rixos soon became a tonal embodiment of journalistic frustration.
Journalists leaped from their beds at the sound of the Orwellian directive, inevitably issued after midnight, rushed out half-groggy to a waiting blue Mercedes bus — of the type normally associated with coach tours of Devon — and were soon hurtling toward an event approved for coverage. On my first night at the Rixos, we were taken to a pair of government buildings engulfed in flames after a bombing by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Officials swiftly acknowledged that one site (The Ministry of Fear, I dubbed it) was a security headquarters, seemingly a legitimate target for NATO and its charge to protect civilians. But the other structure was, according to the government, something else: an anticorruption bureau where fraud was tirelessly investigated.
To keep abreast of the latest developments at the Rixos hotel, search for the #Rixos hashtag on Twitter. A selection of the latest tweets can be always found at this post.
Tripoli Map: Rixos=house, Gaddafi compound=flag, Green Square=fire