The International Writers Magazine:Middle East Revolution
Enemy of the People
Now we have bloodshed and violence against Libyan civilians by their own leader, Mommar Al Qaddafi, who is going after his people in a desperate bid to stay in power
The popular opposition has started from the east and moved slowly west and it seems that there is no way of stopping them. The bloodletting in Libya is nothing like what is being dubbed as the non-violent, civilized, white revolution Egypt recently went through where the army refused to fire one single bullet at the demonstrators.
In Libya the situation is more complex and intense, bloody and brutal, displaying a diabolical face to the regime when police and security men pounce on protestors with no compunction.
The spark that lit the revolution became Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, and quickly ignited many of the cities and towns in the eastern side of the country. Bayda, Derna, Tobruk, Misrata, and Sirat. It came within days of the stepping down of Husni Mubarak in Egypt.
The scale of the protests in Libya came as a bit of surprise as the flare-up was quickly inflamed from the east hinterland to the west of the country to the Libyan capital of Tripoli where the Libyan leader has arguably built his power base.
From the start, it was the iron fist approach. The Libyan regime and its security forces and mercenaries decided on a violent protracted approach as soon as the protests started.
There was no doubt about. The regime through the instruction of none other than Qaddafi himself, decided on the rapid deterrent approach, to hit hard on protestors by using live fire before it become a mass movement of opposition.
Instead, and as ground witnesses reported, the iron fist increased the number of people who joined the protestors, openly demanding the fall of Qaddafi, which was something new in Libya, and no doubt affected by what had been going on in Tunisia and Egypt.
The harsh tactics fuelled the people moving from hundreds, to thousands to hundreds of thousands all calling for the removal of the president extraordinaire who has been ruling the country since 1969, through a military coup he instigated when he was just 29 years old.
In literally just days, the situation had turned violent, bloody and chaotic with people protesting in the streets. This was no Egypt, there was none of the civil society institutions that had been built elsewhere. In Libya's Qaddafi political parties were illegal, the opposition had been muzzled and forced to flee abroad.
The protestors, many young in the 20s and 30s because of the structure of the population 50 percent of whom are under the age of 15 and most of the rest between 16 and 64 age groups, took to the streets, fearless in an atmosphere of state terror.
But it remained unclear from the start as to who was leading and who was causing the violent onslaught which was at best deadly. Besides the people, three forces were on the ground: The army, security apparatuses and the African mercenaries.
This was especially unusual situation for Qaddafi was using an outside force of hired killers directly flown into Libya and no doubt paid for by oil money, from neighbouring countries such as Chad and Niger, both of whom border Libya in the south, to beat and shoot the demonstrators.
While there is still yet no independent verifications of those killed, some say it could be in the hundreds, others say 250 or more in Benghazi alone, and still some suggest between 200 and 400 in the country overall, and within the span of 4 to 5 days. This may show the length at which the regime is prepared to go through to stay in power, in a closed system controlled by the president himself and his sons.
The mercenaries have been brought in especially as independent forces with no relations to the social structure of the country in which Qaddafi has created and exploited divisions.
In doing so as well, he undermined the structures of the state because part of his "green book" philosophy was to decentralize the central administration through local "popular committees" whose source of authority was the leader himself up in Tripoli.
This may explain why he needed to get the African mercenaries because of the issue of loyalty and allegiance to the central state which may had been put in peril and undermined because of previous policies instituted by Qaddafi himself who directly controlled the policy-making process that outflanked the government and the central administration.
At the present social unrest, such control by the leader, clamped down on the foreign media, on the internet, and including a shut-down of interactive sites like Facebook and twitter that have been essential in the last Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings.
While the foreign press, most of whom have initially been banned from the country, news on latest developments have been coming in through mediums like youtube providing some pictures of what is going in Libya, that include carnage of dead bodies on streets and hospitals made through different and huge attacks.
But regardless, the eastern side of the country was quickly taken by the opposition. CNN's Ben Wedeman may have been the first to get across the border into Libya simply because the regular security forces have left, or more like chased out by the opposition forces. No doubt much more international media organization are in the process of entering into the vast country.
This may show as well that the state has started crumbling at the seams because in building the power structure, Qaddafi disenfranchised many in the public bureaucracy and the army itself.
The latter institutions witnessed, including from the elite corpse, Al Saaiqa, many defections including soldiers, military officers and pilots, two of which flew their planes to Malta because they refused to attack civilians on the ground from the air.
Aside from that, the Libyan Minister of Justice Mustapha Abd Al Jaleel, quit his post because of the "shoot-to-kill" policy that was being practiced.
In addition to that news was coming of Libyan ambassadors and diplomats defecting and washing their hands of the regime from India, Malaysia, Japan, Sweden to the United States and from the Libyan diplomatic mission in the United Nations as well as the Libyan Ambassador to the Arab League. Leaders from the UN Secretary-General to Presidents and Prime Ministers are expressing their disgust openly against this dictator.
Sief Al Din Al Islam, Qaddafi's eldest son appeared on television to warn that there would be a civil war if protests didn't stop and he would fight to the last bullet to maintain the integrity of his country. Also Qaddafi was briefly shown in his car to dispel rumors that he left the country and later came on television to state that he will not step down but will go after demonstrators house by house if they don't stop their protests.
It appears for the time being that the big man is still standing and may just even be saber-rattling. However, and whatever the case, Libya appears to be as the next domino that might fall in a popular game context that increasingly looks like sweeping the region of the Middle East. International diplomatic pressure is being heightened.
© Marwan Asmar Feb 22nd 2011
The Revolution Train
Protests in the streets are creating a cyclone of turbulence from Morocco, Algeria, to Libya, Jordan, Yemen and Bahrain.