The Revolution Continues In Libya

The Gaddafi regime is facing its most serious challenge in its 41 year history.

Despite a crackdown by the state, the revolt that has sprung up in Libya over the past several days seems to be gaining pace, especially in the eastern regions of the country:

(RTTNews) – Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday to protest against the more than 40-year rule of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, according to witnesses and news reports.

The city had witnessed violent anti-government protests since Tuesday, with at least 24 protesters reported to have been killed in clashes with riot police and security forces. They were initially triggered by the arrest of rights activist Fethi Tarbel, who has been fighting for rights and freedom of political prisoners in Libya.

The demonstrations in Benghazi have since turned into full-fledged protests against Col. Gaddafi’s autocratic rule in the north African country. The protesters clashed with both prIUo-Gaddafi activists and security forces since the demonstrations began on Tuesday.


There were reports of violent clashes between protesters and police in several other Libyan towns and cities, including al-Bayda and Zentan. Some unconfirmed reports speculated that al-Bayda was now “out of the control of the Gaddafi regime.”

One self-identified Libyan activist claims that the eastern regions of the country are now out of the government’s control:

The protesters in Al Bayda have been able to seize control of the military airbase in the city and have executed 50 African mercenaries and 2 Libyan conspirators. Even in Darnah today, a number of conspirators were executed, they were locked up in the holding cells of a police station because they resisted, and some died burning inside the building. This will be the end of every oppressor who stands with Gaddafi. Gaddafi is over, that’s it, he has no presence here anymore. The eastern regions of Libya are now free regions. If he wants to reclaim it, he will need to bomb us with nuclear or chemical bombs. This is his only option. The people have stood and said they will not go back. And we in Darnah today are standing and camping in AsSahabah square.

Some of this is no doubt hyperbole, but it’s apparently long been the case that Gaddafi’s control in the east has been precarious at best so it’s not surprising that the strongest protests would be occurring there. Whether they’ll spread, and how this plays out are, of course, another question.

In the meantime, the regime in Tripoli has sought to cut off the protesters from the outside world:

Libya has taken a series of measures, including blocking internet sites and shutting off electricity to protest areas, to try to quell rising unrest.

Col Muammar Gaddafi’s government has also reportedly offered to replace some top officials in a conciliatory move.

Media outlets loyal to Col Gaddafi have threatened retaliation against protesters who criticise the leader.

Emerging reports suggest a mounting death toll from days of clashes between security forces and protesters.

The mainstay of the unrest is in regional towns and cities, where many people live in poverty.

Foreign journalists operate under restrictions in Libya, so it has been impossible to independently verify much of the information coming out of the country.

But the BBC has confirmed that several websites – including Facebook and al-Jazeera Arabic – have been blocked.

And the airport in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, has been closed, amid reports that protesters have taken it over.

Stay tuned, but it does seem that change could be coming to Libya after 41 years.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. anjin-san says:

    > Stay tuned, but it does seem that change could be coming to Libya after 41 years.

    Without, it would seem, even a whisper of support from the GOP OTB posters who carry on so incessantly about freedom in here. I guess freedom for Muslims is only of interest to them when being dished out at gunpoint by well armed Americans in a war re-branding effort.

    At any rate, good for OTB for trying to keep this remarkable story in the forefront.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Without, it would seem, even a whisper of support from the GOP OTB posters who carry on so incessantly about freedom in here.

    I presume you’re referring to commenters rather than posters. Are there any OTB GOP posters (i.e. James, Doug, Dodd, Chris) who “carry on so incessantly about freedom”?

  3. anjin-san says:

    > I presume you’re referring to commenters rather than posters

    Very much so. OTB has been all over this. I have had some issues with the editorial tone, but I think that had a lot to do with events in Egypt creating a situation that we are still all trying to wrap our brains around.

    I am referring to the folks who bought into the “it’s about democracy” rebranding of the Iraq war lock, stock and barrel, and the ones who seemed to be ready to take us to war with Russia over “freedom” in Georgia.

    For a decade, we have heard a lot about how Muslims live only to kill Christians/Jews/Americans and turn the world into a Caliphate. Now a lot of them are risking their lives for freedom. And the silence is very revealing.