Another tyrant falling? 60

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi

Our Yukkie Award for the Most Personally Repulsive Tyrant in modern times goes, in a line-up of stiff competition, to Colonel Gaddafi of Libya.

Maybe only just in time. His tyrant status is slipping. He’s no longer supremo over the whole of his bleak desert country. About a third to a half of the six-or-so million miserable people whose faces he’s been grinding in the dust for decades are in full rebellion, and the blood of hundreds of them is soaking the sand as his still-obedient goons mow them down on land, from the air, and from the sea.

Here is one of DebkaFile’s reports, which, though not necessarily accurate in all details, contains more concrete information than most US news sources:

Cyrenaican protesters … who control half of the country and part of its oil resources, embarked Sunday, Feb. 20, on a full-scale revolt against Muammar Qaddafi and his affluent ruling Tripolitanian-dominated regime.

Cyrenaica is in the east of the country. There the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk are in the hands of the rebels.

Unlike the rights protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, in Libya, one half of the country is rising up against the other half, as well as fighting to overthrow a dictatorial ruler …

Since last week, heavy battles have been fought in Benghazi, Al Bayda, Al Marj, Tobruk and at least two other two cities. In some places … protesters stormed army bases and seized large quantities of missiles, mortars, heavy machine guns and armored vehicles – and used them. The important Fadil Ben Omar Brigade command base in Benghazi was burnt to the ground.

Qaddafi’s 42-year rule of Libya appeared to have begun disintegrating Monday, Feb. 21, as civil war swept the country with no signs of him quitting. Instead, he ordered the army to redouble its brutal assaults on the opposition. The Air Force began bombing crowds at random while army tanks and armored vehicles blasted them with live ammunition – not just in the insurgent eastern provinces of Cyrenaica, but the capital of Tripoli and its environs too. There, helicopter gunships aimed heavy machine fire into the main market, the Souk al Jumma, while the first tribal militias loyal to Qaddafi to arrive in the capital from the Sahara fought alongside the army. Casualties soared to an estimated 600, with 250 in Tripoli alone …

High officials of his regime and businessmen began fleeing Tripoli aboard Libyan Air Force fighter jets and helicopters which landed Monday at Malta’s MIA international airport. Government officials in Valetta said the pilots had defected rather than bomb demonstrators, while all the Libyan arrivals asked for political asylum and more flights were on the way.

The United States and European Union have concentrated airplanes and ferries on the island ready to evacuate the thousands of their citizens employed in Libya, most in the oil and gas fields …

And here is a later report from the same source:

In a long, fiery speech broadcast by Libyan state TV Tuesday, Libya’s ruler Col. Muammar Qaddafi … made it clear he had no intention of devolving his powers or “stepping down and giving up like other leaders.” …

The 22,000-man strong Libyan Air Force with its 13 bases is Muammar Qaddafi’s mainstay for survival against massive popular and international dissent… 44 air transports and a like number of helicopters swiftly lifted loyal tribal militiamen fully armed from the Sahara and dropped them in the streets of Tripoli Monday, Feb. 21.

Qaddafi had mustered them to fill the gaps left by defecting army units and the large tribal militia which went over to the people.

One of the ruler’s sons, Mutassim Qaddafi, is in command of the Tripoli crackdown. Air Force planes, mostly from the Libyan Air Force’s inventory of 226 trainers, and helicopter gunships, bombed and fired heavy machine guns to scatter every attempt to stage a rally in the city’s districts. In their wake, Mutassim’s “Libyan Popular Army” cleared the streets of protesters.

The tactics employed by Qaddafi and his sons was, first, to give the protesters free rein to rampage through the city, torch state TV and government buildings and so generate an impression among them and in the West that the Qaddafis were about to fall. But when the demonstrators fanned out to seize the rest of the capital, they were bombed from the air and targeted by the tribal militias, who had no qualms about shooting directly at civilian crowds.

By the small hours of Tuesday, Feb. 22, when Qaddafi went on air to demonstrate he was still in Tripoli, he was again in control of the capital. …

His strategy for staying in power rests first on consolidating his grip on Tripoli and then using it as a base for military operations to regain control of the rest of the country, including Cyrenaica . … Libyan Navy missile ships began pounding Benghazi from the sea.

We’ll all soon be feeling the effects of the Libyan revolution and civil war:

Straight after [Gaddafi’s] speech, Tripoli announced that Libyan oil and gas exports were blocked to Europe, causing pandemonium in a world market that saw a 12 percent price hike of crude oil this week and seriously threatens the fragile economies of many nations.

Posted under Africa, Arab States, Commentary, Islam, jihad, Libya, Muslims, revolution, Totalitarianism, tyranny by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tagged with ,

This post has 60 comments.