(Note: related stories in this blog are Part 1 of this new discussion series and Weekend fun 10: Gadhafi fashion)
As of this writing, various international reports say that more than 200 people have been killed by the rampaging forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi (or "Gaddafi", "Qaddafi", "Khadafi"). And still unaccounted for are fresh massacres by mercenaries reportedly shipped from other African countries to kill protesters and defecting soldiers.
Libya is a big country in terms of land area (1.8 million sq.kms., 17th largest in the world, vs. the Philippines' 300,000 sq.kms.) but has a small population of only 6.4 million people (vs. the Philippines' 95 M). Its economy is heavily dependent on oil exports, estimated to be one-fourth of its GDP. There should be huge potential in tourism especially those coming from Europe as the country is facing a wide area of the Mediterranean Sea.
To its northwest and east are Tunisia and Egypt respecitvely, whose respective long-time leaders were already toppled just a few weeks ago.
(Picture from time.com) It is the thought of being toppled from power after 41 years, turning 42 this year, that scares Gadhafi and his family and closest officials. The reason why they instituted a dictatorship is precisely to stay in power forever whenever possible. Which again, highlights the evils of BIG government, whether by dictatorship or democracy: the usurpation of so much power over the lives, pockets and freedom of individuals through various ways of regulation, taxation and ownership or abuse of the country's huge natural resources.
Although the Middle East and North Africa is mostly ruled by dictators, Gaddafi seems to be a different dictator judging from his lifestyle. Eccentric clothing and fashion, surrounded by shapely female bodyguards, family corporation type of political leadership.
Gadhafi could be one of only two dictators in the region who is not an ally of the US. The other dictator is Iran President Ahmadinejad. But being the leader of a big oil exporting country, many European leaders tended to be friendly to Gadhafi in the past. It is only now that many European leaders are more vocal and more explicit in criticizing the man as he has become crazy in killing hundreds of his own people who do not support him anymore.
If reports of mercenaries from other African countries were brought in to shoot and kill the protestors are true, then there should be more Libyan soldiers who will defect to the opposition. Gadafhi's days in power should be numbered by now.
But if the man should fall down, it will essentially be the same army who propped up his regime for four decades who will be back in power under a new administration. And it will be the same monster who has tasted huge political power and will not let go of certain privileges that are not available to the ordinary citizens. A continuation of the rule of men, not rule of law, is a big possibility.
But for the meantime, the fall down of the Gadhafi dictatorship should hopefully proceed. The fall down of other dictators in the region will hopefully materialize.
It will be a messy and bloody battle for freedom-loving Libyans. It is an exercise that we, observers from the outside, can hope will be a quick and less bloody battle in favor of democracy in the short term, and the promulgation of the rule of law in the long-term, in Libya and other countries around the world.