Morning Bell: Help Libyans Free Themselves from Qadhafi’s Murderous Regime

James Phillips /

Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, the longest ruling Arab leader, appears to be on the verge of becoming the latest authoritarian leader to be ousted by his own people.

Massive crowds of protesters have taken control of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, and much of eastern Libya, long a hotbed of opposition to the regime. Libya’s repressive regime has reacted with ruthless violence, shooting at peaceful demonstrators from rooftops, helicopters, and warplanes. At least 233 Libyans have been killed since the protests began on Thursday, according to Human Rights Watch.

Although Qadhafi once enjoyed substantial popular support on the Arab street due to his confrontational anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Israeli policies, the mercurial Libyan tyrant had recently become irrelevant in regional politics and increasingly unpopular and isolated within Libya. The quirky Qadhafi, long-plagued by major mood swings, became a hated figure for many Libyans. His murderous police state created bitter resentment and fierce opposition, while his erratic regime wasted billions of dollars on white elephant projects and massive oil revenues monopolized by a corrupt elite. Despite Libya’s oil wealth, an estimated one-third of Libyans live in poverty. More than half the population is under 25 years old and faces a bleak economic future due to high unemployment, estimated to run about 20 percent. (more…)