By Yousef K.B.
The Libyan revolt has transitioned from initially an unarmed protest movement calling for Muammar Gaddafi to step down, to a protest movement with an armed guerilla wing attempting to drag down Gaddafi. Protests began in the east of Libya in Benghazi and within days they spread across the country, reaching Tripoli. Gaddafi who was at first hesitant about the possibility of a mass movement against his country responded violently against the protesters. His son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi came out within two days of the uprising and warned that if the protests continue blood will be shed, a civil war can begin, and Libya might break apart into pieces in the East, West, and the South.
Gaddafi unleashed his military on unarmed protesters thereafter shooting at people with live rounds, heavy artillery, and at times air power. Gaddafi’s use of extensive violence as a last ditch effort to hold on to power, forced some protesters especially those in Tripoli to hide in their homes, and for others to arm themselves. Some protesters, turned into armed rebels, attacked arms depots, police stations, and army barracks occupied them and stole their weapons.
Protesters were able to drive out Gaddafi’s forces from cities such as Benghazi and Baydha relatively quickly. Continue reading
By Yousef K.B.
When former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben-Ali left Tunisia after he lost control of the state following massive protests that gripped his country in January, Arab leaders were silent, each looking on with shock at the prospects of people overcoming their fear and toppling a vicious security state much like theirs. The only voice that spoke up was Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, the president of Libya, known for his off-the-cuff remarks. He told the Tunisian public: “I am very pained by what is happening in Tunisia. Tunisia now lives in fear … Families could be raided and slaughtered in their bedrooms and the citizens in the street killed as if it was the Bolshevik or the American Revolution. … What is this for? To change Zine al-Abidine? Hasn’t he told you he would step down after three years? Be patient for three years and your son stays alive.” Seeped in hubris, Gaddafi could not imagine that he was in line to be toppled by his own people.
In just over a week, protests that started over 1000 km in Benghazi have reached the Tripoli the capital of Libya. What is happening in Libya? What is the Libyan government doing? Gaddafi is different than Mubarak in that he has isolated his country from the outside. Information is hard to get from Libya, and most reports from the country cannot be confirmed. However based on these reports and what we know of Gaddafi’s regime, I have put together some thoughts on the situation. Continue reading