The town, 30 miles from Tripoli, fell to Gaddafi's son Khamis, who runs the 32nd Brigade, described by US diplomats as the best trained and best armed of all Gaddafi's forces. They're also known as the Deterrent Battalion and they are now involved in a second and rather more chilling clean-up operation.And as the rebels beg for assistance, NATO and the EU, taking their lead from the United States, have boldly and resolutely decided to do nothing.
They are sweeping through Zawiya, rounding up young men they suspect might have been involved in the rebellion. As we left, we saw one young man inside a speeding jeep, bloodstains on his shirt and a soldier virtually standing on him. Troops are going house to house, according to one resident, rounding up dozens of suspects. We talked to one man who said: "People are being arrested for no reason, people who stayed in their homes for the whole seven days of the fighting. You cannot imagine what is happening here."
Whereas a former US Air Force Chief of Staff thinks replicating the successful no-fly zone over Northern Iraq would be "easy", the Obama administration sees nothing but difficulties whilst, "The director of national intelligence declared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a chilling example of self-fulfilling prophecy, that 'over the longer term Qaddafi will prevail.'"
One can only hope that Neely is right when he says, " Zawiya may prove a pyrrhic victory for the Great Leader". If he is wrong, heaven knows what horrors will be unleashed on the Libyan people.
The failure to grasp the significance of the revolutions sweeping the Arab world is bad enough, but the fatalistic acceptance of the triumph of violence over liberty is shocking. There is no sense of America remotely understanding where its real interests lie.
And if Gaddafi does win you can see it all now. There will be a brief period of quarantine and then respected journals and earnest editorials will pronounce that there are signs of reform, that a new generation is in charge, that there are 'moderate elements' gaining ground. And whilst this blather smothers the screams emanating from the torture chambers, trade deals will be done, the regime will be 'brought in from the cold', universities will, no doubt nervously, eye the offer of money for prestigious new buildings before snatching the cash and making some self-righteous pronouncement about 'building bridges'.
All the while Arab eyes will be turned towards this masquerade, filled with hate. They will have learned one thing from this woeful inaction; that the West is an enemy of freedom and a friend to tyrants. And they will not forget.