On Monday, just hours after American officials were ordered to leave the country, two Libyan pilots landed their jets on the island of Malta, north of Libya to avoid an order from Libyan leader, Maummar al-Gaddafi, to use “aviation assets” to kill the protestors on the ground.
The fighter jets were fully loaded with rockets and bombs.
Protests in Libya started as a result of the Tunisia and Egyptian revolts that drove long-time oppressive dictators out of power.
Gaddafi’s next eldest son, Saif El-Islam Gaddafi, appeared on Libyan television Monday to deliver a chilling speech that threatened civil war if protests continued.
“We are not Egypt. We are not Tunisia. We have guns and we will use them. Instead of 84 deaths (as in Egypt), there will be thousands of deaths,” vowed Saif El-Islam. “Rivers of blood will run through all the cities of Libya. We will keep our country. We will not leave.”
Reportedly, hundreds of protestors have already been killed, but Libyan protestors have succeeded in overrunning the government to take control of Benghazi, the largest Libyan city. Tripoli is also under heavy siege by protestors. Leaked witness reports claim that helicopter gunships have fired on protestors in the streets and that policemen who refuse to kill protestors are killed themselves.
After the fall of the Tunisian government, Gaddafi spoke out strongly in support of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
“You have suffered a great loss,” Gaddafi told the Tunisian people. “There is none better than Zine to govern Tunisia.” The Tunisian people disagreed.
According to CNN, in the last 36 hours, numerous high-ranking Libyan officials have either resigned or distanced themselves from Gaddafi’s regime.
Richard Roth, Senior United Nations Correspondent told of statements made by the UN Ambassador of Libya that said Gaddafi should be investigated for crimes against humanity and the declaration of war on his people. The ambassador openly accused his boss of genocide. Others called him a psychopath and a killer.
Media outlets have been blacked out and denied permission to enter Libya, so there are no foreign journalists on site to report what is happening. It is a major cause for concern after threats to kill protestors have been publically announced by leaders of the country.
“It is very tragic, indeed,” said American-Libyan Asmra Benzali. “After what happened in Egypt the Libyan people have a sense of empowerment and feel the time is right to rid themselves of a hated dictator. My relatives told me, ‘we have been to hell and back, but we will continue this fight’.”
Gaddafi has been called a delusional dictator–particularly after a United Nations meeting in 2009, when Gaddafi famously gave a rambling hour and a half speech that chastised the UN; defended the Taliban and Somali Pirates; accused a foreign military of causing the H1N1 flu outbreak and Israel of assassinating President John F. Kennedy.
Libya has no constitution, no judicial service, no governmental checks and balances. It has been run by Gaddafi and his sons, which has been compared to corruption Saprano style that has resulted in a family den of thieves and killers.
Gaddafi has held power in Libya for over 42 years. He has the record for longest reign and his people have demonstrated (some with their lives), that his days of oppression are over.
The president of Yemen compared recent revolutions in the Arab world to an “influenza”, which may be more accurate than he knows—because freedom is highly contagious.
Gaddafi’s whereabouts remained unknown all day Monday and some claimed he had left the country, but late in the day, he issued a one line statement on TV–“I’m still here”, (in Tripoli)–then the screen went black.