The Case of Libya
"Libya shares something important with Egypt and Tunisia: an aging leader (41 years in power) faces a looming succession crisis in which the leading candidates are his own sons. I simply don't think that's an acceptable outcome for any republic in the 21st century, and was a key aspect to the revolt against Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and to a lesser extent in Tunisia (with the rumored heir apparent being his nephew). Of course there are also differences: the Libyan regime is much more brutal, more tribalized, more totalitarian than Egypt or Tunisia. The country is split along an east-west axis, with the east kept systematically poorer and discriminated against, along with older historical grievances. That's why it's not surprise Benghazi saw the first and biggest protests, particularly since core organizers were relatives of the victims of the Abu Salim prison massacre of 1996.
"The second reason that Libya's regime appears in some respects more fragile (at least in parts of the country) is that it is the worst in the Middle East — basically the region's North Korea. Except that it's not protected by China, and is situated in a region of the world that is historically globalized. Libyans may have been cut off from the rest of the world by the sanctions, but they share an Arab and Mediterranean culture with over 300 million people and know that there is better than Qaddafi out there."
Here's what's happening:
"Libyans have taken to the streets and buried their dead, accusing government forces of perpetrating massacres in Benghazi and other towns said to have been taken over by anti-regime protesters.
"Opposition sources claimed that at least 61 protesters had been killed in three days of unprecedented unrest largely in Libya's impoverished eastern region, though it was not possible to confirm that figure.
"Human Rights Watch reported that 24 people had been killed by Thursday.
"Diplomats reported the use of heavy weapons in Benghazi, Libya's second city, and 'a rapidly deteriorating situation' in the latest Arab country to be hit by serious unrest.
"Amid a near-total official news blackout, fragmentary information and a ban on journalists entering Libya, there was a blizzard of rumours and claims about killings by mercenaries and defections by members of the security forces...
"Supporters of a Libyan 'day of rage' on Facebook reported that Derna and other eastern towns had been "liberated" from government forces.
"Crowds in Tobruk were shown destroying a statue of Muammar Gaddafi's Green Book, and chanting: 'We want the regime to fall,' echoing the uprising in neighbouring Egypt. The city's airport was closed.
"Troops were reported to have landed at Benghazi airport, suggesting a significant move into the city."
(Crossposted to American Footprints)