Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First Tunisia, then Egypt, now Libya. Is Wisconsin next?

Eliza Griswold of The Daily Beast:

The last nine days in Libya are bringing the bloodiest of all recent revolutions to pass. Over the past 48 hours in downtown Tripoli and to the east, in the city of Benghazi, which has long opposed Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year rule, Gaddafi has declared war on his own people, using fighter jets, helicopters, and possibly anti-aircraft fire, as well as African mercenaries to gun down Libyans who dare to oppose him. Due to a media blackout, very few images have emerged from the country.

Libyans have turned, instead, to Twitter, logging in voicemails of eyewitness accounts of the mounting brutality on Enough Gaddafi. Numbers of dead and wounded are impossible to verify. Human Rights Watch has confirmed at least 233 dead, most in the east. As in Egypt, Libyans have begun to record the fallen on 1000memories.com.

But Libya is not Egypt. “This isn’t a Facebook revolution. It’s more like Holler—people calling to each other from the other side of the street,” Khaled Mattawa, a Libyan poet and professor at the University of Michigan, says. Mattawa, like many other members of the exiled intelligencia, has set up a makeshift situation room in his Michigan basement, from which he supplies information to reporters and fellow Libyans.

When it comes to a functioning civil society, Libya is a near total vacuum. It is home to six million people, not Egypt’s 80 million, who have lived in almost total isolation for 41 years. Internet access is limited. So are opportunities for study abroad for anyone whose last name isn’t Gaddafi. Unlike Egypt, the county is filthy rich, but that money is meaningless for those outside of the regime.

In Libya, global forces have held a limited sway. Unlike Egypt, there are not millions of tourists arriving every year. There are only a small handful of international visitors, many of whom (including me) have received direct invitations from the Gaddafi regime to come watch their petro-dollar Potemkin village function as an “opening” state.

On Monday night, in The Leader’s signature bizarre fashion, he appeared on national television to quell rumors that he had fled to the safety of his good friend, Hugo Chavez. “I am still in Tripoli, and not in Venezuela,” he said in a brief, less than minute-long speech. He wearing a fur hat and carrying an open umbrella speaking through the open door of a white truck.

One of Muammar Gaddafi’s greatest fears is that of ending up “in a hole” like his former friend and colleague, Saddam Hussein, M. Jibriel, a senior Libyan economic advisor told me.

To safeguard his teetering grip on power, Gaddafi is willing to openly slaughter protestors in droves—a practice he has long carried out in secret.

Last night I read that some of the fighter pilots had flown to the island of Malta and asked for asylum rather than bomb the protestors. A dozen or so of Libya's foreign diplomatic corps have resigned; the US ambassador said that he could no longer represent "the current dictatorship".

Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Libya ... Wisconsin?

Update: Or maybe Indiana?


Curious Texan said...

Or maybe Massachusetts?

Matt Bramanti said...

; the US ambassador said that he could no longer represent "the current dictatorship"

LOL. I'm pretty sure that's not what he said.

PDiddie said...

LOL. Then you should click on the link. Or use the Google if you prefer.