at 11:07 PM Monday, February 21, 2011
Are Cuban pilots flying Gaddafi's military jets, which are being
deployed to attack peaceful Libyan protesters?
This wouldn't be surprising, as Libyan pilots are defying Gaddafi's
orders to bomb civilian protesters and some have even defected in
Therefore, Gaddafi is unlikely to trust Libyan pilots any further, as he
may very-well become their next target. Amongst Gaddafi's few remaining
allies, Cubans and Belorussians are the best trained fighter pilots.
By Hugh Miles in the London Review of Books:
Information is patchy as communication networks are down, but reports
from Libya all indicate that after 42 years in power, Colonel Gaddafi's
time is up. The tribes are heading to the capital en masse, soldiers
still answering to the regime are trying to stop them, and the violence
is escalating. According to the latest reports the regime has deployed
helicopters and jets to crush the uprising, allegedly flown by
mercenaries from Eastern Europe, Cuba and elsewhere. Meanwhile, former
regime stalwarts have been defecting in growing numbers. The head of
Afriqiya Airways, the head of the Libyan Chamber of Commerce and several
ambassadors are among those who have resigned or relocated. Many of them
are reportedly now in Dubai. Islamic scholars in Libya spoke up today
for the first time to rule that fighting Gaddafi was legitimate jihad.
The demonstrators are calling for a million people to march tomorrow on
Bab al-Aziziya, the fortified military compound where Gaddafi lives in
Tripoli. But no one knows where he is now.
Rather than stem the revolution, Saif al-Islam's rambling speech last
night made the regime seem desperate. He looked nervous, and his threats
only further enraged the people who have waited in vain for him to
deliver on the promises of reform he made 11 years ago. In Benghazi
people threw shoes at his image on the giant TV screens that have been
set up in public places. His speech wasn't live – he gave the game away
when he spoke about the 'pre-recording' – and it's thought that he has
already left the country. Gaddafi's wife and daughter probably left on
Thursday, and are rumoured to be in Germany. For Gaddafi himself,
however, there are not many places to go. No African country could
afford not to hand him over to face justice, and he can't go to Saudi
Arabia, the dumping ground of choice for former dictators, on account of
his old feud with the king. Venezuela or Cuba seems most likely.
Even if the regime collapses, more bloodshed is possible. But Saif's
predictions of civil war and the 'Somalia-isation' of Libya are
implausible, and were immediately undermined by the tribal leaders'
calling for unity after his speech was broadcast. Assuming Gaddafi goes,
however, it's far too soon to say who or what might replace him, not
least because he so effectively suppressed all opposition for so long.
Factions from the army, tribal leaders and religious authorities will
all want a seat at the table. Whether or not there will be a role for
any Libyans currently in exile remains to be seen.