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How will Libya’s protests play out?

Al-Jazeera says the death toll in Libya is at 200 as of Sunday. Coverage from Al-Jazeera is: here.

excerpt from an opinion piece in The Guardian UK

How will Libya’s protests play out?

Two factors could be key: whether the violence spreads to Tripoli, and whether the army continues to fire on civilians…

The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt took us all by surprise, and have still not played out. Libya is the least transparent country in the Middle East at the best of times. Just now, with most communications down, it is truly a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Disturbances started on Wednesday, apparently triggered by the arrest of a lawyer and human rights activist. This was the warmup to a planned “day of rage” on Thursday, commemorating a demonstration in Benghazi in 2006 in which a dozen or so people had been killed. On Friday there were already funerals of protesters, and midday prayers at the mosques as usual provided a springboard for demonstrations.

Since then violent disturbances have spread almost all over the country, with the important exception of the capital, Tripoli…

…Violence against them [anti-government protesters] has come mainly from the army or the so-called militias, led by kinsmen of Muammar Gaddafi. Information is sketchy, but machine guns and other heavy weapons have been used. The death toll has horrified local people as well as the world.

In Tripoli there have been large and rowdy pro-government demonstrations in which Gaddafi himself, with typical panache, was seen taking part…

At first the protesters were calling for reform and an end to corruption. Now the call is explicitly for the departure of Gaddafi. He will not easily give up…

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