You have definitely heard of Egypt’s democracy movement. Now it’s Libya’s turn. The countries are right beside each other and share a lot of their history, culture and geography. Each also had an oppressive regime that stayed in power way past due.
We know that Egypt’s people sacrificed a lot and risked their lives in the fight for freedom and change. Hosni Mubarak went down fighting like any power hungry dictator, but Libya’s “leader” Moammar Gadhafi is a different case.
When Gadhafi seized power he was in a similar position as the rebels are in now. He wanted to topple King Idris’s regime by a military coup, which ended up proving successful. The monarchy at the time held the brunt of shame when the Six Day War with Israel failed — at that time, anti-Israel sentiment was way stronger than it is now. King Idris’s monarchy succumbed to corruption and pro-Western ideology, and a group of army officers, under Gadhafi’s leadership, took over control and subsequently led the nation. Only he knows if his intentions were right at the time, but now in an ironic twist, Gadhafi seems to have forgotten why he got involved in government in the first place.
The people of Libya are fighting an uphill battle. It was reported that Gadhafi has said, “I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents. [ . . . ] I will die as a martyr at the end.” He also vowed to fight “to my last drop of blood.” We should not take this statement lightly, even though Hosni Mubarak might have said something along the same lines and his regime used some violence and scare tactics in order to subdue the peaceful protesters. In Libya’s case, the time for peaceful protesting has come and gone. Not only do we see violent clashes between pro and anti-government groups, but we have also seen an extreme abuse of Gadhafi’s power, which is responsible for thousands of deaths across Libya.
It is evident now that Gadhafi is trying to squash any opposition by literally shutting them up for good. Can you really call yourself a leader of a country when the residents are so displeased and full of anger that lethal force is necessary in order to subdue their aspirations for freedom?
Even at home we are feeling the effects of civil unrest in one of the largest proven reserves of oil in any African nation. Major oil companies are shutting down, effectively taking 1.2 million barrels of oil off the market in a country that produces approximately 1.6 million barrels a day. Crude oil prices have already shot up to two-year high. One wonders if this social upheaval may spread to other dictatorships like Saudi Arabia — the biggest oil reserves of any country — keeping in mind that we have already seen uprisings in Bahrain.
The question is, how long will it take for these crazed, power hungry, so-called leaders to realize that this is the 21st century and that they must give up their temper-tantrums and finally acknowledge that it’s up to the people who choose who’s in power?
In the meantime, when Moammar Gadhafi inevitably realizes his defeat, much damage may have already been afflicted across the country. This why it’s important for the UN and other governments to take strong action and intervene in some cases of Libya’s unrest. The Gadhafi regime has already used lethal force and how much more we are going to see is anyone’s guess. If all other government leaders are calling for your departure, it is a pretty clear sign that you should step down.
Our government should do as much as it can to help the people who are fighting a tyrant and we must help supervise a smooth transition of power. The Libyan people are fighting for what we take for granted: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Akash Sharm believes that leaders must have the democratic support of the support of the people to truyly represent them.