Monday, February 28, 2011

Khadafi's Regime Under Assault as Protests Spread To Oman

Mumar Khadafi's regime continues to come under a withering assault from those who have defected from the regime (which includes the diplomatic corps, much of the Army, and tribal groups across the country). Despite the fact that it appears that the number of Khadafi loyalists is dwindling and he's increasingly reliant on mercenaries and paid thugs to carry out his deranged attempt to stay in power by murdering his countrymen to retain power in Tripoli, Khadafi and his sons claim that the opposition is actually a tiny minority that was egged on by al Qaeda, Islamists, and the West (including the US).

There's a huge disconnect between events and what the Khadafi regime thinks is going on - and the disconnect is only going to increase the death toll since the regime's control over the country is apparently limited to not much beyond Tripoli although there are reports that Khadafi loyalists are preparing to assault a town taken over by the opposition just 30 miles from Tripoli.

Khadafi, who had resisted allowing journalists access to the country, brought in journalists to Tripoli to show them that the situation was normal, but those journalists in the western part of the country tell a different tale - one where Khadafi no longer rules. Journalists were taken to a town Zawiyah, located 30 miles from Tripoli, to show that the situation was well in hand, but those journalists saw that the opposition was firmly in control.

Sanctions by the EU and other countries isn't going to affect Khadafi's ability to increase the death toll across the country, and the UN is contemplating war crimes against the Libyan regime.

Meanwhile, protests have broken out in the Gulf country of Oman. Two protesters were killed as several thousand people demonstrated against the Omani regime.

Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters, who were demanding more rights and freedoms. The Omani government attempted to fend off the demonstrations by bribing the population with a claim that thousands would be granted jobs and compensation while looking for jobs:
The nation’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, has so far announced the creation of 50,000 new government jobs and an unemployment program that will pay job seekers $390 per month until they find work, reports CNN.

RELATED: How absolute is Qaddafi's power? 4 key questions.

These concessions appear to have done little to quiet protesters, whose demands include an increase in power for the legislative body, although they have stopped short of calling for the resignation of Sultan Qaboos. The leader has so far replaced six cabinet members, the Guardian reports.

“We want new faces in the government and we have a long list of social reforms,” Habiba al-Hanay, a 45-year-old civil servant, told the Guardian. “We just hope he will hear us and make changes.”

The most violent protests have taken place in the industrial port city of Sohar, where thousands of demonstrators are said to have clashed with police on Sunday. There are conflicting reports as to whether police fired live ammunition or rubber bullets at demonstrators and how many people have died in the protests. Oman’s health minister said only one protester died in Sohar, but Reuters reports that doctors in Sohar’s main hospital recorded six deaths.
As we've seen in Bahrain and other countries in the Middle East, bribery isn't sufficient to quell the demonstrations - the demonstrators are demanding greater rights and political access in addition to economic opportunities.

There's a sea change going on in the Middle East, and the regimes are slowly beginning to realize the depths of despair and lack of opportunities, tied with repressive regimes with limited political opportunities has created a wholly untenable situation.

Apparently Khadafi is now passing out cash in hopes of staving off the inevitable. Government minders were accompanying journalists around, so is it any surprise that the people journalists interviewed in Tripoli were repeating the government line?

No comments: