The anti-regime demonstrations which started in Tunisia in December are spreading through the Middle East. After Egypt, Libya is now under fire where protestors questioning the authority of Moammar al-Qaddafi are being met with brute force. The protests having spread closer to Tripoli have left 233 people dead with as many as 25 killed on Sunday in what Human Rights Watch described as the bloodiest crackdown so far against pro-democracy rallies.
As Libya is already on the boil, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Bahrain, Yemen and Morocco with the opposition parties rejecting calls for negotiations by their respective governments. It didnt come as a surprise. The possibility of the revolutionary examples of Tunisia and Egypt spreading across the region was already being discussed by the Middle-East watchers. Qaddafi, who gained a negative reputation of a maverick in the West, has been subjected to scathing criticism by Europe, for unleashing his security forces against the civilians seeking an end to his 42 years of oppressive rule. Britain and France called the Libyan Governments response unacceptable and totally disproportionate. Meanwhile, supporters of uprising also staged demonstrations in Switzerland and the United States, waving flags and burning pictures of the Libyan leader. As far as Qaddafis policies are concerned he was going back and forth on the issues concerning his own country and its relations with the rest of the world. The Libyan leader planning to appoint his son as his heir apparent to the throne must have further exacerbated the anger of those demanding his ouster.
The popular uprising that swiftly brought down two regimes in Tunisia and Egypt should serve as an eye-opener to Qaddafi and other rulers in the region. They need to keep in mind that the people seeking more democracy, freedom of expression and economic justice cannot be frightened by the warnings that the oppressive regimes would fight the turmoil to the last man standing.