How was Libya doing under the rule of Gadaffi? How bad did the people have it? Were they oppressed as we now commonly accept as fact? Let us look at the facts for a moment.
Before the chaos erupted, Libya had a lower incarceration rate than the Czech republic. It ranked 61st. Libya had the lowest infant mortality rate of all of Africa. Libya had the highest life expectancy of all of Africa. Less than 5% of the population was undernourished. In response to the rising food prices around the world, the government of Libya abolished ALL taxes on food.
People in Libya were rich. Libya had the highest gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita of all of Africa. The government took care to ensure that everyone in the country shared in the wealth. Libya had the highest Human Development Index of any country on the continent. The wealth was distributed equally. In Libya, a lower percentage of people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.
How does Libya get so rich? The answer is oil. The country has a lot of oil, and does not allow foreign corporations to steal the resources while the population starves, unlike countries like Nigeria, a country that is basically run by Shell.
Like any country, Libya suffers from a government with corrupt bureaucrats that try to gain a bigger portion of the pie at the cost of everyone else. In response to this, Kadaffi called for the oil revenue to be distributed directly to the people, because in his opinion, the government was failing the people. However, unlike the article claims, Kadaffi is not the president of Libya. In fact he holds no official position in the government. This is the big mistake that people make. They claim that Kadaffi rules over Libya when in fact he doesn't, his position is more or less ceremonial. He should be compared to a founding father.
The true leader of Libya is an indirectly elected prime-minister. The current prime-minister is Baghdadi Mahmudi. Calling Khadaffi the leader of Libya is comparable to calling Akihito the leader of Japan. Contrary to what your media is sketching, opinions in Libya vary. Some people support Gadaffi but want Mahmudi out. Others want both out. Many just want to live their life in peace. However, effort is taken to sketch the appearance of a popular revolt against the supposed leader of Libya, Gadaffi, when in fact he is just the architect of Libya's current political system, a mixture of pan-Arabism, socialism, and Islamic government.
Videos of Pro-Gaddafi protests are disappearing from Youtube as we speak. "Pro Gaddafi Anti Baghdadi Mahmudi demonstrations in" youtube.com/watch?v=Ce5fLGNg0sk is gone. "Pro Gaddafi protests in front of Libyan embassy London" youtube.com/watch?v=pRwv0Ac8qbc Is gone. Youtube deletes any video containing gore normally, except when it's from Libya. Apparently more traumatizing to it's viewers than chopped up bodies are Libyans who do not jump on the bandwagon and enter the streets to force Gadaffi out.
Are the protesters in Libya comparable to the protesters in Egypt and Tunisia? Not at all. The governments reaction is more violent, and obviously excessive violence is being used. However let us look for a moment at the actions of the protesters. The building of the the general people's congress, the parliament of Libya, was put on fire by angry protestors. This is comparable to protesters putting the United States Capitol on fire. Do you think that for even a moment the US government would sit idly by as protesters put the US capitol on fire?
The riots erupting now are not secular youth desiring change, or anything like we saw in Egypt and Tunisia. A group calling itself "Islamic Emirate of Barka", the former name of the North-Western part of Libya, has taken numerous hostages, and killed two policemen. This is not a recent development. On Friday, the 18th of February, the group stole 70 military vehicles after attacking a port and killing four soldiers. Unfortunately, a military colonel has joined the group and provided them with further weapons. The uprising started in the eastern city of Benghazi. The Italian foreign minister has raised his fears of an Islamic Emirate of Benghazi declaring itself independent.
So where does this sudden uprising come from? The answer is that the same groups the US has been funding for decades are now taking their chance to gain control over the nation. A group recently arrested in Libya consisted of dozens of foreign nationals that were involved in numerous acts of looting and sabotage. The Libyan government could not rule out links to Israel.
Great Britain funded an Al Qaeda cell in Libya, in an attempt to assassinate Gadaffi. The main opposition group in Libya now is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. This opposition group is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the CIA, and French Intelligence. This group unified itself with other opposition groups, to become the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition. It was this organization that called for the "Day of Rage" that plunged Libya into chaos on February 17 of this year.
It did this in Benghazi, a conservative city that has always been opposed to Gadaffi's rule. It should be noted that the National Front for the Salvation of Libya is well armed. In 1996 the group tried to unleash a revolution in the eastern part of Libya before. It used the Libyan National Army, the armed division of the NFSL to begin this failed uprising.
Why is the United States so opposed to Gadaffi? He is the main threat to US hegemony in Africa, because he attempts to unite the continent against the United States. This concept is called the United States of Africa. In fact, Gadaffi holds all sorts of ideas that are contrary to US interests. The man blames the United States government for the creation of HIV. He claims that Israel is behind the assasination of Martin Luther King and president John. F. Kennedy. He says that the 9/11 hijackers were trained in the US. He also urged Libyans to donate blood to Americans after 9/11. Khadaffi is also the last of a generation of moderate socialist pan-Arab revolutionaries that is still in power, after Nasser and Hussein have been eliminated, and Syria has aligned itself with Iran.
The United States and Israel however have no interest in a strong Arab world. In fact it seems that elementary to the plan is bringing Libya to its knees through chaos and anarchy. In late 2010, the United Kingdom was still propping up the Libyan government through lucrative arms sales. Nothing is a better guarantee to destroy Libya than a bloody civil war. The tribal system that is still strong in Libya is useful to exploit to generate such a war since Libya has historically been divided into various tribal groups.
This is also why the Libyan government responds by importing mercenaries. Tribal allegiances go before allegiance to the government, especially in Benghazi, and thus the central government has no control over the eastern part of the country anymore. The alternative to mercenaries is a conflict between the various ethnic groups. Gadaffi has tried for 41 years to make the country more homogeneous, but opposition groups funded by outside forced will take little more than a few days to put the country back into the 19th century, before the region was conquered and unified by Europeans. The violence is indeed excessive, but everyone seems to forget that the situation is not the same as in Tunis and Egypt. Tribal ties play a far greater role, and thus the conflict will unfortunately be bloodier.
Please remember at all times that the violent Libyan civil war unfolding now is not comparable to the revolutions seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Both of these revolutions involved peaceful protesters suffering from poverty, in opposition to their corrupt governments. The chaos in Libyan consists of a mixture of tribal conflicts, conflict over oil revenue (since most oil is in the east of the country), radical islamists opposed to Gadaffi's system of government, and outside destabilization by Western funded exile groups.
Gadaffi took control in a bloodless coup from a sick monarch away for medical treatment 41 years ago. His ideology is based on unification and he attempted to peacefully merge his country with Egypt and Syria. It would take a miracle for the violence unfolding now to lead to a single stable democratic government in Libya, with full control over the entire country. The country is more than twice the size of Pakistan, but with 6 million inhabitants. Endless deserts divide many of the cities in the nation. If anything we should ask ourselves how many more nations will be shattered into pieces in the coming months, as the world cheers.