THE CRISIS IN LIBYA: A COMMENT
"Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has ordered the Libyan air force to fire on military installations in Libya, according to what the BBC has characterized as a reliable source. Al Jazeera has suggested that air force fighters have opened fire on crowds of protesters.
Though the latter would be particularly draconian, the more important question is whether these signs reflect a split within the regime and Gadhafi using military force to crush opposition to his regime emerging from the military or other security forces. Similar reports the Libyan navy firing on targets onshore also are emerging, as well as reports that Gadhafi has given execution orders to soldiers who have refused to fire on Libyan protesters".
"Red Alert: Unrest and the Libyan Military," Stratfor. 21 February 2011, in www.stratfor.com.
The not very clear (to put it mildly) or transparent ongoing events in Libya in the past few days has (unfortunately) tabulated with some of my own earlier comments of what were to occur if any serious unrest did come to this North African country: that Colonel Qaddafi and his family clique would use all available forces at their command to put down any uprising. Being only in his late sixties and in apparent good health (or at least not 'ill health', `a la the now ousted rulers of both Egypt and Tunisia), the maverick Libyan leader has commenced doing, what Mubarak (perhaps) or Ben-Ali (more likely) would have done, if they were capable of doing so. Id est, using massive force to regain control of the situation and drown the opposition in massive firepower. Of course, it is merely the beginning of an ongoing situation. Right now, as per Reuters, the Financial Times, the New York Times and the Arabic language Al-Arabiya, almost the entire eastern portion of the country is now in the hands of the opposition. With much of the armed forces in that sector having defected over to the opposition or gone into hiding. Whereas in Tripoli as of to-day (Wednesday) the regime has regained control of the situation after a day or two of oppositional activity 1. At this point in time, with no power on the planet having the type of leverage that the United States had in the case of Egypt, and with the army no longer capable of acting as a unified and independent institution, there is a very good possibility that Libya as a nation-state might come apart in a sub-Sahara African style civil war. The fact is that Libya as nation-state (such as it is) only dates back to the mid-to-late 1950's under King Idris. In 1969, Idris was ousted in a coup d'etat by the then very young Colonel Qaddafi. Hence, the very revealing fact that the forty-one years of the colonel's regime makes up most of this wretched nation's history. And following the old adage of divida et impera, Qaddafi, made sure that not only did Libya not have any of the ordinary institutions of civil society (rien, zero, none), but even instruments of the regime such as the army were sub-divided into tribal and regional elements. Hence the great danger that the country might split apart into its pre-colonial elements. With the dis-order and violence that this might imply, on the North African coast, an hour or two from the Italian mainland. Or alternatively, again, `a la many examples of sub-Saharan African regime change, it could very well be, that within two to three days, additional elements of the army, and the security services, may desert and the entire regime may collapse. With Qaddafi making his political quietus by committing suicide 2. Certainly no one can deny that we truly are living in interesting times.
1. Andrew England, "Defiant Gaddafi vows to fight to the death," The Financial Times. 22 February 2011, in www.ft.com; "Defiant Gaddafi vows to die as martyr, fight revolt," Reuters. 22 February 2011, in www.reuters.com; David Kirkpatrick & Kareem Fahim, "Qaddafi grip on capital tightens as revolt grows," The New York Times. 22 February 2011, in www.nytimes.com; "Gruesome footage 'proves' Libya using heavy arms," Al-Arabiya. 23 February 2011, in www.alarabiya.net.
2. On the modus operandi of Qadaffi's rule, see: Mohamid Hussein, "Libyan Crisis: what role do tribal loyalties play," BBC World Service. 22 February 2011, in www.bbc.co.uk. On the possibility that the regime may just very quickly collapse, within a day or two, see: "Gruesome footage 'proves' Libya using heavy arms, op cit. Where the now former Minister of the Interior predicted that the entire regime would quickly collapse and that Qaddafi would end matters by doing away with himself.