Friday, February 25, 2011

Gaddafi's people of mass destruction

With every passing day it is clearly evident that Col Muammar Gaddafi’s days are numbered. Yet Gaddafi refuses to step down. While the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt bowed down to the pro democracy protests, Gaddafi is still shouting threats at those standing against his regime. 

But this almost lunatic man whose recent speeches are more hilarious than fierce is no longer anything the famed dictator of Africa and the Arab world once was. Gaddafi holds no political office, yet he is the de facto head of Libya. And if Gaddafi goes, with him goes the many powerful men that operate out of the shadows.  

And it is these four main pillars that are propping up the frail Gaddafi to stand tall and be defiant. These are the leaders commanding forces to bring mass destruction in Libya.

1.   Abdullah al Senussi: Gaddafi’s brother in law and his most trusted and loyal aide, Senussi is believed to be the command behind the recent violence against protesters in Libya. A hardliner with a thuggish reputation, Senussi is the former head of the Jamahariya Security Organisation, which runs Libyan agents and has been suspected in several terrorist acts and human rights violations and even implicated in some including 440 deaths in two air disasters – Pan Am flight 103 and French UTA plane crash over Niger- and also in other terrorist acts. He is the head of military intelligence and number 2 on the protesters list to men to bring down.

2.   Khamis Gaddafi: Gaddafi’s son and a captain in the Libyan army, is the leader of the 32nd brigade, based in the Mediterranean city of Benghazi. Known for his ruthless ways, Khamis has allegedly recruited mercenaries from sub Saharan Africa to shoot live rounds at protestors in Benghazi. Khamis brigade attacked protesters controlling the town of Misrata. The violent clashes led to the death of many protesters and Khamis forces seem to be gaining control of Misrata.

3.   Mutassim Gaddafi: Gaddafi's fourth son was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Libyan army. He now serves as Libya's National Security Advisor and oversees the nation's National Security Council Mutassim is in command of the Tripoli crackdown. He used air force planes and helicopter gun ships and fired heavy machinery to scatter protestors. Mutassim ordered a vicious crackdown on protestors by his ‘Libyan Popular Army’ comprising of loyalists from the Saharan tribes raised by Gaddafi senior.

4.   Saif al- Islam Gaddafi: The second son of Gaddafi seemed like a ‘grey’ sheep (in the family of all black sheep) until it was discovered recently that he was actually the wolf in a sheep’s clothing. Saif al-Islam talked about democracy and modernization to win over the youth and the moderates in Libya and the West – an impression only dispelled in the televised interview he gave on behalf of his father, when he warned that Libya’s streets would run with “rivers of blood” if the protests continued. This left no shred of doubt that Saif al-Islam too is another Gaddafi and was grooming himself to be the political successor to his father.

People of mass destruction

Although some years ago Gaddafi promised to get rid of all weapons of mass destructions in an attempt at International diplomacy, he has armed himself with people of mass destruction. 

These are a number of special brigades in Libya which only answer to Gaddafi's Revolutionary Committees and not the army. The military is Libya, unlike Egypt, is weak, disorganized and not well trained. These paramilitaries also known as the ‘People's Militia’ are extremely loyal to Gaddafi and his Ahl al-Khaimah (People of the Tent) made upof his close comrades.

Mercenaries are also recruited by Gaddafi to attack Libyans with no remorse. Since mercenaries hold no ties to the land and are only recruited for a specific purpose, they have no qualms about firing at Libyans and there is no major threat of deflection.  

There are also many tribes in Libya and for years Gaddafi has played them against each other to maintain his supremacy. Gaddafi belongs to the Qadhaththa tribe and he has appointed many of its members to key positions in his regime. These tribal loyalists are being brought to other parts of the country and are being armed to attack the protesters. Saif al-Islam prediction of a civil war doesn’t seem very unlikely now.

Gaddafi's Amazonian Guards
What I’m sure would not be much help to prop up Qaddafi's image in these turbulent times are his Amazonian guards- his closest bodyguards comprising of 30-40 women (allegedly virgins) who are trained assassins and guard him 24/7. 

Since the protests broke out, there is no evidence to suggest that any member of the Amazonian guards fired at the protesters. It would be interesting to see what role does this brigade plays when Gaddafi begins to lose a large number of his loyalists. Will they be sent to the frontline to combat the protesters or will they all be loaded in the plane that Gaddafi takes to leave Libya?!

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