Unprecedented demonstrations sweeping the Middle East and North Africa spread Wednesday to Libya, where police clashed with anti-government protesters in the coastal city of Benghazi, an independent source told CNN.Sure.
About 200 protesters came out to show support for human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Terbil, who had been detained earlier, the source said. Several people were arrested after police confronted the protesters, the source added.
But Libya -- ruled by Moammar Gadhafi since 1969 -- is not Egypt, said a highly placed Libyan source close to the government who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
"There is nothing serious here," he said. "These are just young people fighting each other."
Gadhafi, Khadafy, whatever his name is today, has been ruling over Libya far longer than the Mubarak regime did and let's face it, it's time the world was free of the unstable dictator. Seriously, who in the international community would want this maniac to stick around?
Amir Taheri has some interesting revelations.
Khadafy regarded Egypt's Hosni Mubarak as a friend and partner, and called Tunisian despot Ben Ali "both a friend and brother." For years, Tunisian secret services spied on the Libyan opposition for Khadafy. They also helped kidnap at least four Libyan opposition activists in Italy and Malta for transfer to Khadafy's prisons.Of course any insurrection against him may well be crushed. It'll be curious to see if there is enough of a movement.
Last Friday, the colonel received a number of notables to warn against "plots" against his regime, which he calls the Jamahiriyah, a meaningless word that he coined in the 1980s.
"We are facing our gravest threat yet," he told the group, according to Libyan sources. "Even a small disturbance could be exploited by our enemies and turned into a big fire."
However, Khadafy might prove a tougher nut to crack. Unlike the Tunisian and Egyptian despots, he has huge sums of money to play with. With a population of less than 5 million, Libya earns around $50 billion from oil exports. Khadafy can throw money at many of his problems, especially in the neglected eastern part of the country.
Also unlike Egypt and Tunisia, no foreign journalists are allowed in Libya unless Khadafy invites them. This means that even if the "Day of Rage" produces dramatic scenes, there'll be no satellite TV to beam footage across the globe.
More important, Khadafy's police and Jamahiryah vigilantes have been picking up actual or potential opposition figures all over the country.
According to one organizer of the "Day of Rage," dozens of people have been arrested, especially in Benghazi.
"We may end up with nothing but more political prisoners," he says. "But we have to keep trying."