Following the examples of Tunisia and Egypt, Libya is yet another Middle Eastern country to make moves to oust their leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
The protests had begun on February 15th and have continued up until today, occurring after nearly 40 years under Gaddafi’s rule. Accurate numbers and information from the conflict are extremely hard to come by, given the censorship Gaddafi has been able to maintain.
As of now, Gaddafi has lost control over most of the country, yet refuses to acknowledge the reality of the situation publicly, although even he can not ignore the facts. The leader called into a TV station and blamed the riots on hallucinogenic drugs mixed with Nescafe and milk. Gaddafi has ordered the military to act violently towards any rioters- shooting into crowds, causing hundreds of casualties.
After weeks increasing pressure, other nations have declared support for rioters, condemning any attacks on the crowds. As each day goes by, the news reports shift between a city or town under rioters control or taken back from the government. This, combined with media censorship, has made it very difficult to grasp what the situation is really like.
As the riots continue, the effects can be felt stateside. Gas prices have been skyrocketing as the Middle East has continued to be in turmoil. Libya is crucial to oil production in the region, contributing to the sensitivity of the situation.
A number of performers, such as Nelly Furtado, Beyonce and Mariah Carey have come under fire for accepting money to personally perform for the Gaddafi family. Beyonce has publicly announced that she donated the $1 million dollars she received from the performance to humanitarian efforts in Haiti, clearing her name of any wrong doing. Mariah Carey has issued a public apology while Nelly Furtado hasn’t made any public statements.
American media outlets are keeping a close eye on the situation. As with the other situations in the recent past, there’s not much to do but wait to see how the situation develops.
Brittany McLellan can be reached at [email protected]