Saturday, February 19, 2011

Libya's Insurrection

The Los Angeles Times provides useful background on Libya:
"The eastern region has long been marginalized by Kadafi, and anger has been growing over failed economic reforms, especially for the jobless young. There is also lingering hostility over the 1996 deaths of hundreds of inmates from the east killed in a massacre at Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.

"'Libya is more like a black hole. It's very hard to see inside at all,' said Joe Stork, deputy director for North Africa and the Middle East for Human Rights Watch. 'Libya's police have in the past shown zero tolerance for any dissent. Especially public dissent. People have been locked up for years for organizing even small protests. What's new here is that large numbers of people are still coming out...'

"But U.S. diplomatic cables released recently by WikiLeaks reveal growing internal discontent with Kadafi.

"'Static state salaries and inflation, particularly with respect to prices for food and key staples, have hit ordinary Libyans hard in the last two years,' states a 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable. 'Conspicuous consumption by regime elites, has not sat well with the silent majority.... The fact that many young men are forced by lack of means to delay marriage is another pressing economic issue in a conservative society in which marriage is a key social anchor.'"

It's hard to say what is happening in Libya right now, but the eastern city of Benghazi in particular continues to be the scene of violence, which is also starting to spread in the west. There are also reports that Qadhafi is bringing in mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa to augment his perhaps unreliable security forces.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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