“I AM THE HEAD OF THE REVOLUTION” roared Colonel Gaddafi on Libyan State TV. “I will die as a martyr!” he continued, along with insults and slanders about the revolutionaries on the streets – stoned and drugged working for al-Qaeda and Bin Laden. What a creative man. Mubarak had also spoke of death, and dying on his own soil. The games these tyrants play are really not at all different.
And each dictator seems to suffer from a type of personality disorder. This is most obvious in Gaddafi. Colonel Muammer Gaddafi. 41 years on from overthrowing King Idris I in a military coup in 1969. Now, however, he cannot bring himself to face karma. He cannot face a revolution that wants to overthrow him. Then again, who can? Each dictator tied to western strings rest very comfortably on their thrones for decades and centuries, and none of them want to climb down from their throne or be pushed off.
As funny as Gaddafi may appear on the face of things, with his dark glasses and curly afro, addressing the people of Libya with threats and insults, he is a joke that must be taken seriously. Nobody expects him to go quietly like Ben Ali or Mubarak. There appears to be a pattern as this revolt for freedom spreads from nation to nation. It simply gets worse. So far, Libya has proven to be the bloodiest of the uprisings since Tunisia’s awakening. Gaddafi has used military aircraft including fighter jets, tanks, armoured 4×4’s, and foreign mercenaries from South Africa, in 8 days of violence. The estimated death toll varies between 250 to 2,000. Two thousand dead is probably closer to the truth, which does not even include the soldiers who were tied and shot, and the soldiers burned alive in the army garrison headquarters in Benghazi, for refusing to target protesters and kill on sight. Such events unfortunately are the progress of a revolution.
Like Mubarak, reports have been that Gaddafi ordered text messages to be sent to Libyan mobile’s of statements and slogans supporting his regime, as well as the State TV broadcasting pro Gaddafi rallies. Meanwhile armed men removed the bodies off the streets of Tripoli, Libya’s capital, in an effort to cover up the blood he has spilled.
However despite his brutal tactics, the pillars of his regime crumble.
Day after day, several cities across Libya have rapidly joined the revolution against Gaddafi’s regime, many army units mutinying. Two Libyan air force pilots have defected to Malta seeking political asylum, taking their aircraft with them, and claiming that they had refused orders to bombard Benghazi.
Moving onto the western worlds concern, oil production has slumped as thousands of the foreign workers who keep it running have fled or have been evacuated by their country, or are desperately trying to escape. Several countries like Turkey, and the UK are sending ships to evacuate their citizens. The UK however had granted £215 million worth of export licenses to companies selling arms to Libya. Out of that just under £8m were for equipment defined as military, with products including riot control gear, tear gas, and weapons for the military. Only after hundreds of protesters were murdered by Gaddafi, Cameron decided to revoke Britain’s 8 individual arms export licenses. In fact, the Guardian’s senior political commentator Michael White has said that we should blame Libya for what it does with its weapons; not Blair or Britain. Apparently weapons are always used with morality and aren’t used for killing and taking lives, so lets blame Libya.
Nevertheless Libya is a very different place from its neighbours. Its territory and wealth are greater, its population sparser, its sense of nationhood more fragile. Libya’s history has been far more traumatic as many as a quarter of its people died, many of disease and starvation in concentration camps, during three decades of Italian invasion and colonial rule that ended with the Second World War. Much of the country’s income comes from oil, which soared in the 1970s, and has been wasted on arms purchases and sponsorship of revolutionary movements around the world. Some 4,000 Libyan soldiers are believed to have died, for no gain, during Gaddafi’s repeated interventions in neighbouring Chad – which, incidentally, is where his mercenaries are believed to come from.
Since February 17, the lives lost and the names of the bodies are not yet known. Regardless of this, several cities across the country are declared as ‘liberated’ areas where there is no sign of Gaddafi’s forces, The army has joined the revolutionary opposition, the lawyers and judges have become makeshift committees and organisations, trying to restore basic daily order back onto the liberated streets. But Libya will not be liberated until Tripoli and every other city is free from Gaddafi’s regime, nor shall the Middle East be free, until each of its countries have toppled their western-controlled kings and dictators. Long live freedom!
For more of Selin’s writing, visit her blog http://wordsofconscience.tumblr.com/
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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