First Tunisia, then Egypt. The popular uprisings against “president for life” dictators across Northern Africa and the Middle East has spread at a rapid pace, and while any number of regimes could be “next,” Libya is certainly skyrocketing to the top of the list.
Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, has been in power as long as anyone, and his nearly half century of rule seems to be in serious peril now as the protests grow across the nation. Of course, there have been “impromptu” pro-regime protests in the capital, but the real news is in Libya’s smaller cities, where protests have been harshly met by police.
Indeed, reports of violent crackdowns have emerged across the country, and as many as 19 protesters have been reported dead, most of them in the city of al-Bayda, where police used live ammunition on peaceful protests.
This may lead some to wonder if Gadhafi will be successful in crushing the protests, but given the recent history it suggests surprising desperation, as usually the violent crackdown is one of the last gasp efforts of the regime to stop the protests, and only fuels more anger and more protests which eventually topple them.