Moammar Gadhafi’s hold on Libya slipping

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Moammar Gadhafi’s hold on Libya slipping

Post by Strawberry on Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:21 am

Next to his blonde Ukrainian nurse and Bond-girl bodyguards, what most people know about Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is his travelling Bedouin tent. He’s pitched it on Donald Trump’s New York estate, Paris’s Elysée Palace garden and a park in Rome.

But the tent has serious symbolism in Libya: by bringing in tribal leaders from across the desert country, security forces recruited to keep their communities quiet, and a military that is deeply subservient, the flamboyant 68-year-old strongman has clung to power longer than any other Arab leader.

But the tent’s inclusive image has frayed to the breaking point as protests flared in four cities, and at least 20 demonstrators were reported killed in clashes with pro-regime groups. Long time observers are wondering how close that point might be.

With virtually no foreign media reporting from Libya, and all media but satellite TV run by the state, answers come mainly from local contacts whose reports are difficult to verify.

On Thursday a reported truce offer by a protest group in eastern Libya said the regime would be given until March 2 “to show its commitment to transparency and accountability,” but there was no indication that it quelled the unrest.

“I’m not wildly enthusiastic about the prospects for overthrowing Gadhafi,” says Ronald Bruce St John, author of seven books on Libya. “He’s systematically destroyed civil society, as well as any organization beyond the family. But the big question is will the demonstrations spread beyond the eastern part of the country, where there is (usually) a lot of opposition?”

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