Al Jazeera has a fantastic live blog on Libya. Reports are difficult to verify because there is almost a complete media blackout in the country, but according to the live feeds the Qaddafi regime continues to commit atrocities against Libyans. It is sending mercenaries from sub Saharan Africa to brutally suppress protesters and the army is conducting airstrikes in Benghazi and the capital city of Tripoli. More and more members of the Libyan government are resigning in protest, from the Justice Minister to various United Nations officials.
My Palestinian-American colleague Nabeel Mere noted in a recent blog post that the official name of Libya, The Libyan Arab Jamahiriyyah or al-Jamahiriyyah al-Arabiyah al-Libyyah, is "descriptive of the country’s reality under the rule of its longtime dictator. I understand Jamahiriyyah [to be] derived from Jamahir or Jomhour; both of which mean “large groups of people” or “fans” (Arabs refer to sports and soccer fans as Jomhour or Jamahir). Surely, sports fans are supposed to sit in their seats and cheer during a game. They are not allowed to go down on the field and participate in the game."
I think that this is a brilliant observation on the regime that Qaddafi has carefully constructed and explains why once Libyans started to mobilize his government was unable to negotiate the changing circumstances. Qaddafi only had legitimacy so long as Libyans were passive viewers. Once they decided to become active participants the regime was suddenly and irrevocably destabilized.
The international community must not let this brutal dictator get away with the crimes currently being committed. Many hundreds have already been killed. How many more need to die? As the Washington Post argues in a new editorial, "the beleaguered dictatorship of Moammar Gaddafi [is] waging war against its own population and committing atrocities that demand not just condemnation but action by the outside world."