Determined to outdo his dictatorial Arab counterparts in violence, cruelty, and bloodshed, Col. Moammar Qaddafi (alternatively, Muammar al-Gaddafi) has declared outright war on his own people, ordering an effective open slaughter of Libyan protestors. The long-time revolutionary despot has surpassed any other attempts to suppress uprisings in this year of protest, at least in terms of raw, horrifying violence. Reports have indicated that hundreds have died in the protests, primarily in the cities of Tripoli (the capital) and Benghazi. Qaddafi has reportedly been using small air strikes, gunship attacks, hollow-point bullets, and ruthless mercenary forces against protestors in a bid to hold onto power, no matter what the cost to his own people.
As grim and appalling as this genocide is, there are signs that Qaddafi’s bloody grip is slipping away. A number of Libyan officials have taken a direct stand against him, including Libya’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who has called for Qaddafi to leave the country immediately and has accused him of genocide. He even went so far as to say that Qaddafi has only a small number of days left, whether his departure is a voluntary one or one by (possibly violent) forced removal by the Libyan people. Besides Dabbashi, two Libyan pilots landed their jets after refusing orders to fire on protestors, defecting to Malta, and rumor has it that one of Qaddafi’s top generals disobeyed orders to fire on protestors and was subsequently put under house arrest.
It seems that Qaddafi’s Libya is tearing at the seams. With the opposition building in the east and a shockingly transparent declaration of war and proposal of possible civil war by Qaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, it now seems inevitable that Libya will either be torn from Qaddafi’s lifeless hand or torn apart by further unrestrained violence. I think it’s safe to say at this point that Libya’s protests have gone far past a point of no return. Even if he retains power, which seems nearly impossible, Qaddafi could never bring the country back to how it was before.
Libya looks to be quickly becoming the next domino to fall in the astonishing sequence of events that started only two months ago in Tunisia. While other oppressive leaders have shown the kind of restraint and deliberation that might at least earn them a little more time in power, Qaddafi has signed his eviction notice (if not his death sentence) by his atrocious response to protests in Libya. It’s only a matter of time before Qaddafi is gone. The real question is whether he’ll leave in a private jet or a coffin. As one Libyan, Abdel Rahman, said, “He will never let go of his power. This is a dictator, an emperor. He will die before he gives an inch. But we are no longer afraid. We are ready to die after what we have seen.”