Urgent action on Libya is neededLibyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi underscored how morbid and mad power can be with his 75-minute TV harangue. Declaring to fight to the end against the nationwide revolt that has undermined his authority of more than four decades, Qaddafi vowed the execution of protestors, calling them “rats.” He declared he would die as a martyr and fight until his last drop of blood in defense of his power. He is rumored to have ordered the destruction of the country’s vital oil pipelines. He appears to have lost his head, ordering his personal security forces to ruthlessly kill his own people and mobilize fighter jets and helicopters to bomb and fire at protestors. He is exacting the apocalyptic doom of deluded Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu who was later executed.
Libya is in a de facto civil war. The country is divided after a weeklong antigovernment revolt. The eastern region is occupied by anti-Qaddafi rebels and the western section that includes the capital of Tripoli is being destroyed in a bloody clampdown by pro-Qaddafi military and security forces. The desperate and obsessive desire to cling to power is costing innocent civilian lives. Some reports say the death toll exceeds 2,000. Soldiers shocked at the thought of opening fire at civilians are fleeing and senior officials are also turning their backs on their eccentric ruler. The public revolt that has toppled unpopular autocrats in a swift and peaceful way in Egypt and Tunisia is evolving in a completely different direction in Libya.
The international community has been united in condemning Qaddafi’s atrocious and bloody violence against the Libyan people. U.S. President Barack Obama said it was “outrageous and unacceptable.”
The massacre Qaddafi is conducting against his own people is an inhumane criminal act and should not be seen as only a domestic problem. Condemnation should not stop with words. Quick and decisive actions must follow. The international community must muster a concerted effort to freeze overseas assets and impose a travel ban on Qaddafi and his family. International sanctions must be enforced. A no-fly zone should be established so that the Libyan air force can’t be used to kill civilians. Military options should be studied using NATO’s intervention in Kosovo as a precedent. Qaddafi must be put on trial in an international tribunal to account for his atrocities. It is no time to count oil interests and blame those responsible for propping up Qaddafi. What’s urgent now is immediate action to protect the Libyan people.