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Revolution Rattles Libya, Gaddafi Retaliates

posted Mar 26, 2011, 3:49 PM by Golden Knight

By Christian Romo


As the second month of 2011 comes to a close, it has already been one of the most newsworthy years in recent memory. The Sudanese in the south voted for separation, rebellions in Tunisia and Egypt have created a quick, dramatic change in leadership, and social revolutions have broken out in Bahrain, Djibouti, Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, and China.

The most compelling story of the year, however, is still unfolding in Libya where anti-government protestors have enacted a full-scale revolution against 40+ year dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In the past two weeks, anti-Gaddafi forces have taken the cities of Zawiya and Benghazi but have made little progress in capturing the capital city of Tripoli.

Gaddafi, unlike ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, has shown no reluctance in denouncing and attacking his opponents. In a series of bizarre television appearances, Gaddafi has blamed the revolution on Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden’s plan of spiking Libyan coffee with hallucinogenic drugs. Pro-Gaddafi forces have come out in droves teaming up with the military to silence the revolution. Clashes in Tripoli have killed nearly 1,000 demonstrators, but the opposition and scare tactics have not stopped the flow of the revolution. Thousands of Libyan men have enlisted for a rebel force that isn’t even organized yet. The scattered rebels have already liberated the eastern part of the country from military rule.

Gaddafi (right) with Italian P.M. Silvio Berlusconi

The Obama administration, which was hesitant to support the upheaval of Mubarak in Egypt, has come out in full support of the revolutionary forces in Libya. Gaddafi is reputed to be one of the most brutal dictators still in power and has caught the public attention in recent years with his ranting speeches at the United Nations and his record of inhumane practices.

The UN has imposed weapons sanctions and a funding freeze as Gaddafi looks to maintain control of Tripoli. Nearly 100,000 Libyans have fled across the border into neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, some relaying information from the successful Tunisian and Egyptian protests. International humane societies, such as Amnesty International, have started to call the situation in Libya a “humanitarian crisis”.

The organization of demonstrators in Tripoli has been strong, but scattered. Internet access in Libya, a rarity to begin with, is now even sketchier and is giving organizers a difficult time without access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Many people didn’t see the government upheavals of Egypt and Tunisia coming, but a successful revolution in Libya may create lasting shockwaves throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Many countries are already organizing anti-government demonstrations while larger countries such as Iran, fresh off last year’s dramatic presidential election, may be susceptible to the revolutionary fever.

 If anything can be predicted, it’s that the events in Libya will unfold slower than the events of Tunisia and Egypt. Even if Gaddafi prevails and maintains control of his people, his influence will be lessened and the fight will continue elsewhere. Nearly a dozen countries have experienced anti-government sentiment in the first couple months of 2011, and big players such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China may be next. It will be interesting to see how the world looks ten months from now.