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Qaddafi holds no sway over these Libyans

In eastern Libya, local youths – some in uniform, some with guns slung over their shoulders – and tribes that have dropped their support for Qaddafi appear to be running the show.

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A man who identified himself as being against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi directs traffic on the main road in Msaead, east of Libya, on Feb. 23.

Suhaib Salem/Reuters

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At the Saloum crossing from Egypt into Libya, there was clear evidence of the revolutionary upheaval afoot in Muammar Qaddafi’s country.

On one side, a dozen journalists were trying to get into a country that’s been off limits to genuine reporting for decades. After a few hours of Egyptian bureaucracy, the reporters were waved through to the Libyan side – where there was no evidence of bureaucracy or Qaddafi’s regime at all.

A young man in a borrowed uniform without insignia, asked for names and employers, but didn’t even ask to see passports. A middle-aged woman with an air of authority and AK-47 on her shoulder – but no uniform – kept an eye on the flow of traffic.

On the other side, thousands of Egyptian migrant workers were pouring out of Libya, fleeing what they fear is a looming bloodbath after Col. Qaddafi called his own people “rats” and “cockroaches” in a national address on Tuesday.

Today at least, that fear wasn’t realized. While there were reports of violence in Tripoli and a few other western Libyan cities, in the eastern third or so of the country, where Qaddafi’s writ no longer reaches, it was largely peaceful.

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