Muammar al-Gaddafi’s Libya – A No-Starter For Democracy?

As you may have heard, the effects of the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt continue to reverberate throughout the lands of the Middle East. In a recent post, I mentioned the trouble brewing in Iran, Bahrain and Yemen. The mass media is now reporting that an overnight disturbance occurred in the eastern Libyan town of Benghazi, when protestors, who were demanding the release of a human rights activist, clashed with the Libyan police and pro-government supporters. News reports indicate that as many as five or six hundred protestors were involved in the clash, but that apparently, no one was killed as a result of the incident. Benghazi has been a trouble spot in Libya for years now.

Similar to Egypt, Libya has been ruled by a military dictator since September of 1969 when 27-year-old Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi led a bloodless coup d’état against the monarchy of then-leader, King Idris, who was away in Turkey for medical treatment.

Colonel Gaddafi has been a very controversial figure from the start, due to his connection to state-sponsored terrorism, his support of pan-Arab socialism, his hatred of the West, his anti-Israel stance, his support of the Taliban, his support of recently-deposed Tunisian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, etc. He is eccentric, and seemingly an egomaniac.

For many years now, Gaddafi has been a strong advocate for African unity, and since the early 1970′s, he has made a number of unsuccessful attempts to unite African nations in a so-called “Unites States of Africa”, with himself as the obvious head-of-state. Furthermore, since 2008, Gaddafi has proclaimed himself “King of Kings of Africa”. Other titles he has embraced include “leader of the Arab leaders” and “imam of the Muslims”. In 2009, he also served as the head of the African Union for a one-year term.

In a further demonstration of his contempt for the “powers of the north”, in September of 2009, while attending a South America-Africa summit on Isla Margarita in Venezuela, which was hosted by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Colonel Gaddafi proposed the establishment of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization — or SATO — to rival the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. Gaddafi reportedly stated “The world’s powers want to continue to hold on to their power. Now we have to fight to build our own power.”

Considering that Muammar al-Gaddafi has been in power for over forty years now, and views himself with such high esteem, similar to Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, it is highly unlikely that he will easily or willingly let go of his grasp on power in Libya. While outwardly he may not immediately appear to be as ruthless or violent as Hosni Mubarak, it should be understood that one does not remain in power for so long a time by playing nice. In short, it is my view that for the immediate future at least, Libya will not become the scene of nationwide protests, such as we have seen occur in Egypt. Libya’s day of liberation is not at hand. I think Muammar al-Gaddafi — the so-called “King of Kings” — will make sure of that.

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