Gaddafi Loses Benghazi; Expat Workers Attacked

The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were mere warm-ups; the revolution in Libya definitely looks more like a civil war. The city of Benghazi has apparently fallen to the protesters – they raised the old tri-color flag prior to Gaddafi’s takeover (which is just a green flag, apparently the only flag in the world with no additional markings).

I am not an expert on Libya by a long shot but apparently the tribes in the region near Benghazi have now said Gaddafi must go so it is unclear how the government could conceivably re-take the area short of a concentrated military campaign. The history of Libya under Gaddafi is littered with military adventures of this sort that turned out disastrously (see the Chad war) so it seems highly unlikely that this is in the cards.

Little is verified but it appears that soldiers were executed for failing to shoot protesters and likely much more will come out now that the city has been taken over by the insurgents.

In Tripoli there are major reports of heavy violence including the use of sniper units to kill protesters and thugs just driving around and shooting out of cars and running people over; also in calls sounds of rocket fire and heavy weapons.

It is telling to me at least that the government is now saying that the West wants to “take over” Libya including the Turks and the Italians; I guess they played out the Zionist card.

The other element is that apparently expat workers from South Korea, Bangladesh and Turkey were attacked by mobs. These workers were in Libya likely on construction projects in support of the oil industry. Like the BP spill, the major companies have likely under-estimated the chance of a major conflagration and the danger to their staff on the ground in being caught in the midst of a civil war.

Finally, for humor there is an Al Jazeera editorial blaming the West for all of this “Has West Failed to See Inevitability of Freedom” which blames the US and the West for the fact that the Arab world is ruled by despots and dictators. I was waiting for the inevitable “spin” of how all the Arab world’s problems come from the West and not from within their own sphere of influence and I am sure that this is the first of many; actions on the ground are moving faster than their ability to spin stories.

I also would like to see how these stories play out among the youth (over half the population is under 20) who have known nothing but oppression at the hands of their fellow Arabs and they know that the dictators that run the country and their families walk away with all the value from their oil and other resources. Colonialism is as distant to them as the US civil war is to us; generations away. And not only that, Colonialism and the West have always been the “whipping boy” for why repression is needed in the first place, so that argument is completely played out. But expect to see variants of this coming in the next days, months, and years. And for many Western journalists to write them, as well.

2 thoughts on “Gaddafi Loses Benghazi; Expat Workers Attacked”

  1. While its always good to see dictators overthrown and at least some people talking about democracy, I would point out that, historically, youth movements turn authoritarian/fascist. Young people are just to prone quick fixes and don’t have enough real world experience to have an intuitive feel for the complexities of life. They are more susceptible to romantic political narratives that claim that sharp, short and dramatic application of violence can fix complex problems.

  2. Shannon, I’m afraid you’re right. This is going to become the islamists vs the (few, genuine) freedom seekers first, then the islamists vs the “I’m hunkering down to remain invisible because I don’t want trouble” next. The islamists will gain the support of most of the youth (who won’t know any better), the islamists will win, and a whole lot of decent people are gonna get slaughtered. No one will mourn. And then they’ll attack Israel. What a world!

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