Libya is the latest country to experience violent protests since the Tunisian protests. Like most of the protests, the unrest is centred on removing their dictator, Muammar al-Gaddafi, who has been in power since 1969.
As of February 23rd, Gaddafi appears to have lost control of the eastern part of the country with the Benghazi becoming the first 'free' city. Yesterday, Gaddafi vowed in a live broadcast "I am not going to leave this land, I will die as a martyr at the end … I shall remain, defiant. Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time." and called for a violent, final showdown to crush the uprising by urging loyalists to take to the streets to fight "greasy rats" in the pay of enemies ranging from the US to al-Qaida.This speech has convinced many in Benghazi that although they have removed Gaddafi from eastern Libya they are still no closer to an end to the bloodshed. The local military are defying Gaddafi's regime and monarchy-era flags are flying from government buildings. Defecting troops have also been witnessed carrying tonnes of weaponry and ammunition looted from a military armoury into the courtyard of a ransacked police station to stop it being seized by forces loyal to the Libyan dictator. Soldiers brought rockets and heavy weapons which had been used in an assault on citizens in central Benghazi on Saturday as Gaddafi tried to keep control of the city. Doctors in Benghazi said that at least 230 people were killed, with a further 30 critically injured.
Army officers have also been interrogating mercenaries flown in the week before in an attempt to suppress protests. An air force officer claims he witnessed 4,000 being flown in over a period of three days, stating it as the reason for many soldiers turning against the government, along with an order to attack citizen's with planes. However, numerous witnesses in Benghazi have said that while artillery was used against citizens, air force planes did not fire on them. They did, however, drop two bombs inside the Rajma military base to stop weapons falling into the hands of anti-government forces. The Libyan ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim al-Dabashi, is one of many diplomats to defect from Gaddafi and claims that "genocide" had begun in the west of the country, with ground attacks occurring from Libyan forces working alongside "mercenaries from many African countries".
On an international front on the morning of the 23rd, the British foreign minister, William Hague, said in a press release that there are "many indications of the structure of the State collapsing in Libya", urging the Libyan state to listen to people's demands. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called the situation in Libya a genocide and called for massive intervention from the international community. He argued a resolution was now needed allowing control of Libyan airspace so as to stop mercenaries entering the country and called Gaddafi a "sick and dangerous" "tyrant". Peru fully severed diplomatic ties with Libya’s government on and the African Union conducted a security meeting on the rapidly changing situation in Libya. Nationally, The Warfalla, the largest of the numerous tribes in the country, joined calls from other tribes for Gaddafi to stand down.