By Hasan Zillur
26 February 2011
Moammar Gadhafi has kept Libya under his iron grip for 42 years, ever
since the 27-year-old army captain seized power from King Idris in a
1969 coup. Just think about it, the same person ruling a country for
more than four decades! Even if he were a benign and progressive leader,
it would still be an outrage because that long a reign inevitably leads
to terminal decay and despair. Leadership has to change every five years
or so, or a society loses its dynamism and national atrophy sets in. The
catastrophe is magnified manifold considering that, far from being a
benign and progressive leader, Gadhafi is a ruthless despot whose
eccentric behavior masks a diabolical mindset.
Inspired by Tunisians and Egyptians, Libyans have now thrown off their
fear and risen in revolt against their dictator. In response, Gadhafi
has unleashed his army and air force on the rebels. Tripoli and
Benghazi, the two major cities, are aflame. Fortified by army defectors,
demonstrators have seized Benghazi but Gadhafi still retains control of
the capital. He has flown in foreign mercenaries who fire
indiscriminately on protesters, even as they stream out of mosques after
the Friday congregational prayers. Close to 400 are already reported
dead and hospitals have run out of supplies to treat the wounded.
Ali Aujali, Libya's ambassador to the U.S., broke with Gadhafi and
called for him to step down. The deputy head of Libya's delegation to
the United Nations has asked the international community to enforce a
no-fly zone over Libya's airspace so that no more mercenaries can be
Libyan diplomats around the world, including Libya’s ambassadors to
Tunisia, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia, have resigned in protest
against the murderous crackdown on unarmed civilians and mourners by
Gadhafi's warplanes, soldiers and mercenaries. The Arab League has
banned Libya from attending its sessions.
Defections from the army and the air force are increasing. Two Libyan
pilots flew their Mirage jet fighters to Malta and sought political
asylum in the small Mediterranean nation. The pilots said they had
escaped to Malta after refusing orders to bomb protesters in Benghazi.
Of all the dictators in the Middle East, Gadhafi is the most dangerous
and delusional, even more than Hosni Mubarak. "I will not leave Libya,"
he screamed on TV. That's what tyrants say when their fall is imminent.
He has also vowed to murder the protesters, and his goons, armed with
machetes and machine guns, threatened to go on a house-to-house search
in Tripoli to carry out his order. "I will fight on to the last drop of
my blood," he ranted. “Those who do not love me do not deserve to live,”
declared this megalomaniac.
Fossilized Arab regimes that thrived in a culture of defeat and paranoia
are on their way out. The Arab street is waking up to the truth that
liberty is a birthright and victimhood is not destiny. Supine Arabs have
smelled freedom in the spring air and they are determined to bring about
their own organic revolution to fruition. The change in the Arab psyche
is irreversible, even as aging dictators and kings-by-inheritance scurry
to pacify their population with bribery. It is as if these leaders – Rip
Van Winkles – have ventured out of their caves, only to discover that
the world has changed overnight and there is nothing they can do about
Irrespective of race or religion, we must support the brave Libyans
fighting to “win or die” against Gadhafi. The Libyans themselves can,
and will, defeat Gadhafi and his band of criminals. We urge the U.S.,
the U.N., the EU, and other nations to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya
and apply stiff sanctions to stop this madman from slaughtering his own
people. We summon The Hague and demand that a trial commence immediately
against Gadhafi for crimes against humanity, for what is taking place in
Libya now is nothing less than genocide.