Saif al-Islam (the Sword of Islam) Gadhafi, a son of the Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi, has blamed opposition members outside the country of organizing protests in Libya. This raises many questions, most important of them, whether Libya could replace Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan as headquarters for Al Qaeda?
The protests in Libya, one of the world’s major oil suppliers, started on February 15 amid violent anti-government demonstrations across the Middle East. Oil prices have spiked in trading, since the protests began.
“They are trying to repeat scenarios of Egypt and Tunisia,” he said in an interview with the state television late on Sunday. Protesters are seeking the immediate ouster of the entire Gadhafi clan from power, and democratic rule.
He said oppositionists outside the country are using Facebook and e-mails for calls to take to the streets and join the anti-government protests, adding however that there are also oppositionists inside the country supporting the ongoing unrest.
Some Arab media sources reported earlier that a part of the Army and some law enforcement officers changed sides and joined the opposition. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi rejected the reports saying that the Army stays with his father and the country.
“The Army will be defending Libya, Tripoli and Muammar Gadhafi until the last drop of blood is shed,” he said. Not exactly the kind of thing to appease protesters or reduce tension, Saif-al-Islam’s words have only served to inflame tensions and aggitate more Libyans to protest, displaying a contempt for the public comparable to that of his father.
Riots are largely centered in the eastern cities of Benghazi, Bayda and Tobruk, but there are reports that unrest has been spreading to the west of the country.
Local media reported earlier that protests erupted in Tripoli, the country’s capital, where police clashed with demonstrators. Some reports suggest protesters have control of the city, which could be possible if enough police and military joined them, providing arms and ammunition to the protests.
Al-Jazeera news agency reports of gunfire in the capital and police using tear gas against the demonstrators, while Egyptian TV channel Nile News reports that several cars were set on fire in the city.
Saif al-Islam Gadhafi added that hundreds of thousand people still support his father, while tens of thousand are currently on their way to Tripoli to defend Muammar Gadhafi. “The integrity of Libya as well as its sovereignty are in danger,” he added. It would appear civil war is erupting, and that Gadhafi is promoting it as a means of controlling protest.
While calls for democracy and promises of constitutional change have been called for by Saif-al-Islam, the country is essentially controlled by his father, and increasingly, himself. There is little chance that a dictatorial family rule will yield power to a constitutional democratic government run by the people.
Should Libya fall to the protesters, it is unclear who would replace Gadhafi. His son is no more popular than the long-lasting dictator and would certainly be a mere continuity of the father’s dictatorship.
Strategically placed to the south of Europe, Libya could be seen as an ideal base for an Al Qaeda terrorist operation. Gadhafi has been involved in terrorist acts before, and the receipts from oil production can fund many more terrorist acts.
It is unlikely, in our opinion, that a Western-style democracy would hold in Libya.