Saturday, February 26, 2011

Libya: Why This Revolt Was Ripe To Happen Now

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: An update on the evolving situation in Libya. There are still about 300 Americans trapped in the chaos and another 100,000 internationals trying to evacuate. Gadhafi is threatening to blow up the country if defeated. No one is sure if that means by atomic bombs or conventional - or if he will actually do it.

Gadhafi has lost most support in the international community and among his diplomats, politicians and military. All that remains are the usual suspects: the loyalist Republican Guard. Sooner or later they too will see overwhelming odds of armed protesters and throw in with them much like the police did in Egypt. It is a matter of time before the armed protesters take Tripoli as they have many other cities across the country.

Some Basic Facts To Know About Libya

What is the basic history about this country?

* 1951 is where is all starts. Libya had been under 30 years of Italian colonial rule, followed by 8 years of United Nations trusteeship. Libya finally wins its independence. The previous Italian colonial rule explains the close ties with Italy today.

* 1969 is where we see Moammar Gadhafi enter the political scene. Then he was a 27-year-old Army captain that led a mostly peaceful coup to overthrow the ruling monarchy. He positioned himself to become the now undisputed ruler, like a king. He established a socialist system while nationalizing businesses. He also went about financially supporting international terrorist groups which has earned him the ire of world leaders for decades.

* April 1986: During the Reagan years America bombed the hell out of the Gadhafi compound in Tripoli. Why? It was retaliation for the bomb blast that killed U.S. troops in a bombed Berlin, Germany discotheque. It was reported American jet air strikes killed Gadhafi's adopted baby daughter, though most of what is reputed to be fact in Libya usually cannot be substantiated.

* 1988: This is the famous Lockerbie incident that earned Gadhafi zero sympathy. Libyan agents planted a bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. They killed 270 people, mostly Americans. Since this depraved incident that took the lives of innocents, Libya was isolated by the world community through United Nations sanctions, harming its economy.

* 2003: Crippled by international sanctions and international outrage and lawsuits, Libya finally admits responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. Gadhafi also claimed he would end his efforts at developing weapons of mass destruction. He actually was making progress at normalizing relations with the international community, most notably the West.

* January 2009:  Libya antes up and pays compensation to the American families of the Lockerbie victims. America then decides to exchange ambassadors with Libya, the first time in 35 years of frosty relations.

* 2009: Gadhai marks his 40 year anniversary of absolute rule with some seriously lavish celebrations at a time when the country's economy and the average person is hurting.  Gadhafi is elected chairman of the African Union for a one-year term.

* By 2010:  Various countries, including America, bring in business personnel to trade and scoop up Libyan oil.  This includes hundreds of thousands of international employees.

* Feb. 15, 2011: Sparked by the Egypt Revolution and Tunisia's revolt, a pro-democracy anti-government protest erupts in Libya. This peaceful revolt quickly turns bloody with pro-Gadhafi forces killing protesters.  In turn, the protesters have armed themselves and begun their own military campaigns to take the cities one at a time.  Currently, they are closing in on Tripoli, the capitol city and it is expected to fall to the protesters.

Gadhafi has been steadily losing support among the diplomats, the politicians, the military.  Jet fighters ordered to fire upon the people have rejected the orders, crashed their planes, and requested asylum in other countries. Diplomats have defected, requested asylum as well.  All Gadhafi has left is his loyalist Republican Guard but it is tenuous how long he can hold out.

Gadhafi has threatened to blow up the whole country if is he is not able to stay in power.  It now is a waiting game to see if he makes good on his threats.  At this point, the protesters have nothing to lose as they press ahead to gain control of their country away from this madman.

What is the geography of this troublesome country called Libya?

*  It's about the size of our state of Alaska, a bit larger at 1.7 million square kilometers or 660,000 square miles.

*  Most of this country is a barren place of about 90 percent desert or semi-desert.

*  The nearest neighboring countries are Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad and the Sudan.

What population size lives in Libya?

* About one-third of the country is under the age of 14 years old or actually younger.  There are 6.5 million total residents.

* The majority of that 6.5 million live in cities, to the tune of nearly 80 percent of them.

* About 97 percent of the population are Muslims.

What is the state of the Libyan economy?

* According to the World Bank figures, the Gross Domestic Product of Libya in 2009 was $62 billion.

* You guessed it.  The vast majority of their revenues from exports come from oil.  This is definitely not a wise choice to depend upon only one product.

* Libya has the 9th largest oil reserves in the world.

What is the Libyan reputation on Human Rights?

* 2010: Libya earns the worst score possible for measuring freedom, according to the Freedom House.

* 2005: Libyan human rights score rated as poor by the U.S. State Department, though there were said to be some meager improvements. Still the stain of torturing detainees, arbitrary arrests, civil liberties' restrictions remain standard operating procedure in this Gadhafi regime.

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