Is Gaddafi’s Rule Facing Collapse?

The demonstrations in Libya that began in the city of Benghazi seem, to general amazement, to have given the protesters effective control of the east of the country.

Until Sunday, the only demonstrations in Tripoli had been in support of the regime and its leader, no doubt as an official riposte to those in the east who have been calling for its demise.

In any case, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s personal lack of corruption and political idiosyncrasy had earned him grudging popular respect, despite the brutality of his regime. Furthermore, in recent years, he has not hesitated to improve economic conditions to buy social peace.

This has now changed, with demonstrations in the heart of the capital on Sunday, pitting pro- and anti-regime supporters against each other, together with security force intervention which resulted in hundreds of dead and injured.

A rambling speech by Saif al-Islam, Col Gaddafi’s second son, promising unlimited concessions but warning of civil war as the regime would not given in, did little to calm the situation.

As a result, the regime now seems to be in very serious trouble. In the wake of the violence, Colonel Gaddafi, according to some reports, seems to have retreated to his support bases in Sirte or Sebha to organise his response.
‘Deliberate neglect’

The fact that anti-regime demonstrations were first confined to the region of Cyrenaica in the east of the country gives us a clue as to what actually happened.

Eastern Libya has long been hostile to the jamahiriyah, Colonel Gaddafi’s “state-of-the-masses” based on “direct popular democracy” which decrees that all Libyans shall participate in the political process and which, to ensure that they reach the right conclusions, uses the Revolutionary Committee movement to discipline them.

Cyrenaica, after all, was the birthplace of the monarchy that preceded the revolution, whilst Benghazi has always spurned the regime for its lack of revolutionary rigor.

Benghazi itself also has other grounds for rejecting the regime; it housed the 413 children infected in the late 1990s by HIV because of appalling sanitary conditions in its hospital.

Continue article via BBC


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