Last night Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libya’s dictator Moammar Gadhafi, made a plea to the people through the state-run television in an attempt to avoid what he termed a “civil war.” Saif al-Islam Gadhafi claimed that his remarks were unprepared. In the statement (seen in the video to the left), he acknowledges excessive force used against the protesters in the country. Gadhafi also acknowledges that protesters have taken over some military bases with tanks and weapons. Saif al-Islam Ghadafi then essentially tries to make a deal with the protesters through his televised message. He promises to implement significant democratic reforms if the protesters back down. At the same time, Ghadafi warns that if the protesters stay his forces will stay until “the last bullet” is fired in what will be a bloody civil war.
The protests in Libya have not been as widely covered as those in Egypt, partially because American reporters have not gained as much access to Libya over the last week. There have been very few videos or even pictures from the protests in Libya. There have been no dramatic live feeds of Green Square in Tripoli as there were of Tahrir Square in Cairo.
According to the reports from the ground, the Libyan security forces have been much more brutal than the Egyptian forces in trying to stamp out the protesters. Human rights groups claim that at least 200 people have been killed and thousands more injured in attacks on protesters, though the real number is likely much higher. At times Egyptian forces have fired bullets into a crowd of protesters, which has only served to make the population come out again in greater numbers.
The bad news for the Gadhafi’s is that some of the security forces are reportedly turning against them and siding with the protesters. The opposition now occupies Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, and also occupy some military bases. The police in Benghazi and a number of soldiers in the military have also reportedly sided with the protesters. Benghazi is now relatively calm under the occupation of the protesters, but violence continues in Tripoli, the seat of Ghadafi’s power. Protesters continue to try and storm a key military base which holds Gadhafi’s eastern presidential palace. If the protesters gain control of Tripoli it will be hard to imagine how the Gadhafi family can stay in power.
On the international stage, the unrest in Libyan has caused oil prices to spike about 4% today. Libya is the 12th largest exporter of oil in the world and has significant reserves fro future production.