Monday, February 21, 2011

Libya and Learning

Analysts who know far more about Libya than your humble blogger have noted that Libya's response to protests have been largely aimed towards the West rather than the Libyan people. From the beginning, media coverage from inside Libya has been extremely limited. Seif el-Islam Ghaddafi's speech last night made reference to bloodshed in terms indicating it may have been a threat to the West to withdraw condemnation. The fact that Ghaddafi is scheduled to speak this evening at around 2am Libya time may indicate that his comments are intended for a Western audience rather than for the Libyan people.

This would represent a significant change from Tunisia and Egypt, in which both leaders spoke largely to their own people, although they certainly made reference to "conspiracies" from the international community. Ghaddafi may be trying to draw the West in with the intent of offloading some of the frustration of protesters from himself. However, this is highly unlikely to be effective, as al-Jazeera has far more credibility in the Arab world than does Muamar Ghaddafi.

Nonetheless, the development is a case of "learning" by an authoritarian regime seeking to stay in power. Libyan protesters have learned from their brethren in Tunisia and Egypt, but regimes throughout the region are watching closely as well, adjusting their policies accordingly. Whether or not the learning will be effective, however, remains to be seen.

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