Opinion Brief

Libya: Can Gadhafi survive?

The wave of protests sweeping the Arab world reaches Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi has ruled for 41 years. Commentators wonder if he'll be the next to fall

Since the anti-government uprisings sweeping North Africa and the Middle East reached Libya this week, at least 14 people have reportedly been killed by security forces so far. Libyan protesters defied a crackdown and rallied in the capital, Tripoli, and three other cities on Thursday, demanding the ouster of their longtime leader, Moammar Gadhafi. Can Gadhafi survive the storm and hold onto power? (See scenes from Libya's protests)

Gadhafi is in trouble: "The mere fact that people are lifting up their heads in a brutal police state like Libya" should worry Gadhafi, says Blake Hounshell in Foreign Policy. It's too early to know exactly where the unrest will lead, but as "the swift fall of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in next-door Tunisia" demonstrated all too clearly, "even the toughest regimes can prove surprisingly brittle once that mantle of fear is lifted."
"Is the Arab revolt spreading to Libya?"

But Gadhafi seems confident he will survive: The Libyan leader certainly "ought to be concerned," but he's still trying to project strength, says Vivienne Walt in TIME. Libya is sandwiched between Tunisia and Egypt, and Gadhafi has responded to the protests by meeting with critics to hear their "grievances," and plans to release more than 100 of his "most fervent opponents" from prison. We'll see if that improves "his prospects of surviving."
"Democracy protests reach Libya, but Qaddafi feels secure"

And the protesters lack focus: The protests are indeed spreading, says Sara A. Carter in The Washington Examiner, but local observers say they are poorly organized, "leading to concerns that the demonstration will be smashed by security forces." The murky reports coming out of the country don't paint a promising picture — security forces are keeping crowds at bay by firing rubber bullets and water cannons, while protesters fight back by throwing stones.
"Protests in Libya growing"

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