For all the anger directed at Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, he isn’t Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
So far, at least 200 Libyan protesters have been killed by the Libyan military, and with the regime teetering, Gadhafi’s son, Saif, has warned in a TV appearance that “instead of crying over 200 deaths we will cry over 100,000s of deaths… We will flight to the last man and woman and bullet. We will not lose Libya. We will not let Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC trick us. We will live in Libya and die in Libya.”
And Saif has the reputation of a moderate.
With no foreign press allowed in the nation, verifiable first-hand reports are impossible. But multiple witnesses report that the Libyan navy is lobbing shells at civilian areas and helicopter gunships are firing on crowds. Two Libyan fighter pilots have defected, landing their jets in Malta rather than take part in the slaughter. There are reports of foreign mercenaries being flown in to carry out violence against the Libyan people that Libyan forces might balk at perpetrating. Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations has accused Gadhafi of genocide; its envoy to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, announced he was “joining the revolution”.
In the modern, interconnected world, large-scale violence against your own people isn’t supposed to be practical any longer, even for a dictator. Gadhafi is putting that expectation to a rather stern test.
As recently as 1982, Syria’s Hafez al-Assad put down a rebellion in the town of Hama by blocking all exits from the city, then reducing Hama to rubble by weeks of bombing and aerial bombardment. Once all resistance ceased, Syrian forces moved into the town and began executing residents by the thousands. By the time it ended, as many as 30,000 people were dead.
That’s the reason you don’t hear much about protesters in Syria.
With exports of a million barrels a day, Libya accounts for about 10 percent of Europe’s oil supply, so the violence there has already had an impact on world oil prices. Gold prices have jumped as well. Oil companies are evacuating as many foreign national as possible, and the United States is evacuating all non-essential diplomatic personnel.
– Jay Bookman