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Qaddafi Next in Line to Fall?

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As happened in Egypt with Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali in Tunisia (when each ordered his loyalist forces and/or the military to fire on its own people) Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi is doing the same in Libya.

As we know, Ben Ali's regime fell within days of a Tunisian general refusing the order to fire on Tunisian protestors.

Mubarak's police and security forces initially attacked Egyptian protestors but the army (initially neutral while standing as a buffer between the protestors and the security forces) finally abandoned its neutrality and sided with the protestors, whereby Mubarak eventually turned over his power to the Supreme Military Council.

In Libya, Qaddafi has acted more brutally, sending in militiamen, mercenaries (from other African countries) war planes and helicopters to gun down and strafe protestors in Benghazi (where apparently the protestors have gained control of Libya's second city) while the capital, Tripoli remains under siege. Reports indicate hundreds have been killed in Benghazi and Tripoli.

  In light of the brutality the Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa al-Jeleil resigned in protest over Qaddafi's deadly response and the Libyan mission to the U.N. called on Qaddafi to step down and "to leave as soon as possible"he has to stop killing the Libyan people".

Libya's Arab League representative Abdul al-Howni also resigned calling Qaddafi's actions "genocide".

An opposition web site reported a senior military official Colonel Abdul Younes resigned and the newspaper Asharq al-Awset reported a top general Abu Younes was placed under house arrest for refusing the order fire against protestors.

Two Libyan fighter pilots defected and flew to the nearby island of Malta and asked for asylum there according to a Reuters dispatch.

What the killings ordered by Qaddafi have done in Libya has emboldened the protestors particularly in Benghazi where they seized control as the security forces pulled back to Tripoli. The demonstrators have vowed to head to Tripoli and join the battle against the government and liberate that city. As one protestor said of Qaddafi, "He will never let go of his power. This is a dictator, an emperor. He will die before he gives an inch. But we are no longer afraid. We are ready to die after what we have seen".

Although the fissures to Qaddafi's rule are evident, the key to whether he stays in power or falls remains with the military. If the generals decide to side with the protestors, Qaddafi's downfall would seem to be all but certain. The protestors have indicated they wanted a secular interim government led by the army in cooperation with a council of Libyan tribes.

The revolutionary fervor we have been witnessing in many of the Arab states seems far from abating. Reforms by the tyrants are met with derision by the protestors as "too little and too late". Suppressing the demonstrators with attacks and murder seem to embolden the opposition with more determination and resolve to overthrow the regime (as opposed to cringing in fear and crawling away meekly).

The Arab rebellion against official state tyranny is alive and well; now centered in Libya but continuing in Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Djibouti, Morocco, Mauritania and beyond the Arab world.

If not signaling a new world order at the very least a crumbling of long standing dictatorships that have beset the Middle East and been actively supported by the U.S. in the name of maintaining "stability" and fighting Islamic terrorism.

That failed U.S. policy is crumbling along with the tyrants falling like so many dominoes.    

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