Unrest, Violence Continues in Libya
Due to the apparent success of the recent uprising in Egypt, the people of Libya took to the streets on February 17 demanding their leader, Moammar Gadhafi, to step down after 42 years of rule.
In response to protesters, Gadhafi orders his military to attack those in the streets, unlike in Egypt where the military sided with protesters. So far it is estimated that almost 1,000 people have been killed in the protests. Despite the rising death toll, protesters remain peaceful.
Media coverage of the events in Libya was virtually nonexistent until early this week. Despite already low cell phone and Internet access in the country, people have been able to organize in large numbers every day. However, as in Egypt, the government is attempting to shut down Internet access and blocked Al Jazeera’s broadcasts.
Early this week protesters took control of the eastern portion of the country, setting up food distribution for refugees and helping western journalists finally enter the country.
Amidst rumors that he had fled to Venezuela, Gadhafi addressed Libya on Tuesday. In a rambling, hour-long speech he said he will not leave the country and will “die a martyr.” He added that he would “cleanse Libya house by house” if protests continued. He also called state-run television Thursday to give a 20-minute speech
In an interesting twist, Al Queda came out in support of protesters Thursday, condemning the “massacre” of Libyan citizens. In response, Gadhafi blamed Al Queda for the uprising, after blaming the United States and other Western nations earlier in the week.
Several members of Gadhafi’s government have resigned due to his treatment of the protests including the ambassador to China, the ambassador to the European Union and the country’s interior minister.
Due to the instability protests are creating in the region and uncertainty of the security of the Suez Canal, a main transport route, oil prices soared to over $100 a barrel for the first time in three years, causing gas prices to rise to an average of $3.36 a gallon.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the actions of the Libyan government were “unacceptable” and that if the violence continued the nation would face consequences. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an end to violence as well, and the Swiss government said it would freeze Gadhafi’s assets. On Tuesday, the Arab league said Libya was suspended from the organization.
The United Nations Security Council met Friday, in a special session, to discuss the situation in Libya, as did the U.N. Human Council. While the UN failed to take definitive action, President Obama signed an executive order on Friday levying sanctions against the country.
You can follow the developments in Libya via Al Jazeera’s live blog.
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