Libya. Gaddafis playground.
The country that lies inbetween Tunisia and Egypt was bound to feel the heat at some stage. Fever and fear grip this nation, this destination is probably one of the worlds worst places to backpack right now.
Libya is a big country. 40 times larger than Denmark yet only has a population of 6 million. Large swaths of the country are covered by the mighty Sahara desert, almost 90%.
The ruling leader, Muammar Gaddafi, is famous for his Bedouin tent. He takes it whereever he goes. Even pitches it up at the UN headquarters in New York until lately when he was been banned. This sparkled a strange response from the big man, after he refused a Russian plane to land, where it was due to pick up some nuclear waste uranium to despose of in regulation with a UN ruling. The crates of weapon grade unranium were left out in the sun on the runway, guarded by only one solider, where they almost spilled out of their containment due to the temperatures at which they were left. The effects would of been Chernobyl style proportions.
Gaddafi is up there with the worst of the present day Arab ruling dictators. After Saddam Hussein and Tunisia's Ben Ali, Gaddafi has earned his stripes of terror infliction, abuse of power and ravage display of corruption. He also exposes a reflection of some Western governments hipocrisy. A closed and isolated country in many respects up until the past 10 years when oil reserves have been tapped and international business has started to flow and in some instances, gush.
Its now a precarious situation. A delicate power vacum potentially could follow Gaddafi if he vacates as there is no such thing as organised opposition to his regime. A 40 year gap.
Gaddafi came to power riding the usual wave of reform and aspiring political ideals.
His socialist flag was soon lowered from the mast, abandoned as power corrupted the libertating hero rising from the ashes of a 1969 coup. You have to understand the geopolitcs of the era to put this episode into context. Revolutions and coups were taking place worldwide, a lot of them based on the model of socialism and to a more extreme extent, communision. Fidel Castro had liberated Cuba from a dictatorship, (to effectively turn it into another), .... Che Guerva had helped and was attempting to do so in Bolivia and even the Congo. The legend Omar Torrijos had overthrown the Panamanian government. From Peru and Brazil to Sudan and Somalia, 1969 was a torrid time for regime changes on a global scale.
The man has deluded himself with power over 41 long years.
He is Africa's longest serving ruler. During his reign he has desposed of those close to him, getting rid of those that assisted him in his original coup, public hangings of 'counter revolutionaries' or people who thought differently from him.
Although he has some mates....
The green passport of LIbya is always in that last list of least desirable nationalities on most immigration forms.
What has spurred these recent developments across the middle east? The uprisings In Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Dijdouti, Morocco, Sudan and Bahrain? Its no secret that a lack of faith in the ruling powers is one of the reasons, but the real reasons are deeper. People are fed up of decades of blatant corruption, decades of human right violations, state controlled media, the margalisation of the youth and the disregard for the elderly have all played a part in these revoltuions unfolding around the world.
Its serious here. So far over 500 people have been merked by the security forces loyal to Gaddafi.
Security forces are generally well paid in Libya, quite crazy to think that some of the most well paid people in society are those that weld authority and can abuse it the easiest. Although reports are emerging that some defections from the military were occuring nationwide, after officers and entire battalions have refused direct orders to fire on protestors. 2 fighter jets have even landed in Malta after the pilots refused orders to fire on protestors. They are now claiming political aslyum.
This is a very hostile environment to be anywhere near. But....
The Mediterranean is lush with life. Fruitful and green, its abudent with beautiful beaches, swaying palm trees and turquoise warm waters. What more can you ask for for a beachpacking experience? Tripoli is a culturally rich city on the edges of the Mediterranean. The red castle is a glimpse into life in during the Ottoman empire, Medina, the famous market that dates back to the fourth century. Its cheap, its cheerful, its warm, its not crowded. Its a budgetpackers ideal destination. Why wouldn't you consider Libya as your next backpacking destination?!
Gadafis regime has closed the doors on most of the world during the last 40 years, only in the last 10 years has tourism had a chance to really breath. Theres a reason for this. The ruling regime generally despise the west and its culture. Just take a look at the responses dribbling out from the regime at the moment, blaming the EU, Britain, the US and even Canada of all nations, I mean no one has blamed Canada for anything since South Park.
Dont go backpacking in Libya right now. Helicopters are raining down bullets upon the streets, fighter jets are launching strikes on crowds of people gathered below their telescopic lenses, snipers are picking off protestors from elevated government controlled buildings. The regime has proven in the past, that brutality and terror are the methods to deal with problems. Extermination of this dissent has been broadcast on state run tv by the presidents son. Quote, "we will keep fighting until the last man standing...even the last women"...... He then said that if agreement is not reached immediately then "rivers of blood will flow..."
Make no doubt about it, this uprising is set to be the bloodiest.
Dont get involved.
Grab your backpack and go bush in Botswana instead.