Washington DC, Crescent-online
February 25, 2010, 1800 EDT
The 10-day Libyan revolution has taken a bloody turn, as Qaddafi mobilizes paramilitary groups against protesters demonstrating for regime change.
The 10-day Libyan revolution has taken a bloody turn, as Qaddafi mobilizes paramilitary groups against protesters demonstrating for regime change. Even as Qaddafi gave speeches calling the protesters “drug addicts,” “rats,” “cockroaches,” and “Al-Qaeda” provocateurs, resistance to his 42-year despotic rule has spread throughout civil society and the armed forces.
Qaddafi has struck back against the protesters by ordering the Libyan Air Force to bomb them. Al Jazeera and Press TV have reported that a number of army colonels and generals have defected and joined the opposition. At the start of the conflict, a number of Libyan fighter jets landed on the island of Malta, and one pilot ejected from his jet, rather than massacre his people. Qaddafi has also executed 130 members of the army who refused to fire on protesters. With dissension in the ranks of the Libyan military, Qaddafi has resorted to flying in hired mercenaries from Chad to brutally put down the anti-government movement. Some observers fear that Qaddafi will unleash chemical weapons on the protesters.
Most of Libya’s eastern half is already in the hands of the protesters, and they are inexorably beginning to chip away at Qaddafi’s bases in the western half. Protesters have recently closed in on Tripoli, which has received the brunt of state oppression.
The US silence on Libya reflects the government’s tension over properly managing conflict over yet other breakaway site in its imperial geography. The US had barely managed to catch its second wind on Egypt, stridently attempting to shape the discourse of events unfolding on the ground by promoting “limited” forms of democracy. Obama then attempted to turn the world’s focus on Iran, criticizing the Islamic government for “killing” its protesters. When protests erupted in Libya and Bahrain, independent analysts sharply criticized the US for backpedaling on “democracy” and “freedom” for the peoples of the oil-producing states.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reported that Obama is scheduled to speak with European leaders like Sarkozy about “options” for responding to the Libyan crisis. While The New York Times and other US media outlets declare that disruption in oil trade from Libya will not significantly affect the US economy, many analysts suspect that the case is otherwise. Saudi Arabia has already pledged to make up for the barrels of oil lost from Libya. The US is also discussing military option, considering the twin dangers posed by Qaddafi’s threats to blow up the oil facilities and the fact that the protesters have seized oil fields.