Jewish World Review Feb. 17, 2011 / 13 Adar I, 5771
Gaddafi next? Anti-government protests spread to Libya
By Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel and Shashank Bengali
AIRO (MCT) The anti-government protest wave unleashed in
The protests against the eccentric Gadhafi, the Arab world's longest-ruling autocrat, erupted late Tuesday in Bengazi,
The group said that Libyan security forces used tear gas and batons to break up protesters who were planning a large Thursday demonstration. One person was killed, and security forces arrested at least 14, the group said.
The Libyan protesters called for a "day of anger" Thursday.
"With people from
The tumult in Bengazi came as anti-government protests grew in the Persian Gulf kingdom of
There was no sign that the turmoil inspired by the uprisings against Mubarak and former Tunisian President
The Obama administration, caught unawares by the breadth and speed of the turbulence, reaffirmed a policy shift in sympathy with the mostly youthful protesters who have used Facebook, Twitter and other social media to organize the largely leaderless protests.
The U.S. "supports democratic change," Secretary of State
But an Egyptian activist in attendance, Sherif Mansour, reminded Clinton of
"Let's be honest," Mansour said. "The record of the U.S. foreign policy on
The unrest doesn't appear to immediately threaten Gadhafi's rule, and the regime mobilized large pro-government crowds to counter the demonstrations.
Asked if Gadhafi is a dictator, Crowley demurred. "I don't think he came to office through a democratic process."
Gadhafi was among a group of junior army officers who staged a bloodless 1969 coup against the monarchy.
But there was a large police presence on one side of the square, a major traffic intersection, said the witness, who asked not to be named for safety reasons.
The protesters, who are demanding democratic reforms, were attempting to recreate the role and the carnival-like atmosphere of the 18-day occupation of
They camped in tents, made speeches, played music and even set up a media center.
State-run television has downplayed the protests, portraying them inaccurately as the work of the Sunni Muslim-ruled country's disaffected Shiite majority, the witness said.
Some 500 protesters attacked a police station in Aden, prompting officers to fire live ammunition, witnesses said. A hospital official, who asked not to be further identified for safety reasons, said that one protester died and a second suffered serious injury.
The violence could fuel a separatist movement seeking a return of the independence that southern
In the capital,
Several hundred mostly young demonstrators also marched in the highlands city of Taiz, where some 20 held a sit-in in the main square.
"We started to demand reforms, but now we are demanding the toppling of the regime," Ghazi Assami, a lawyer and opposition activist, said by telephone.
Saleh, who has presided over an authoritarian regime for 32 years, blamed the protests in
"There are schemes aimed at plunging the region into chaos and violence," Saleh was quoted by the state-run Saba news agency as saying in a telephone conversation with
The protests don't threaten Saleh's grip on power. They are largely leaderless and involve mostly students, human rights activists and other members of the impoverished, deeply conservative nation's tiny educated class.
There are concerns, however, that the demonstrations could become a vehicle by which ordinary citizens could vent their ire with
Saleh also confronts an insurgency by a Shiite Muslim sect in the north, the southern secessionist movement and a growing presence of an
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