Go Gaddafi, go

Colonel Gaddafi has been left with few options other than to step down after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) slapped sanctions against him, his immediate family members and close associates for his regime’s intemperate response to public protests. The UNSC unanimously froze the assets of 16 persons representing the elite and imposed a travel ban on them. Meanwhile, the anti-Gaddafi insurgency that started from the east of the country is gradually inching westwards towards Tripoli and the insurgents have captured some important towns near the capital. It is not certain whether the regime will be able to hold out. With mounting external pressure and unremitting domestic resistance, it will not be easy for Gaddafi to cling to power any longer without causing more bloodshed. Already 100,000 people have fled Libya’s conflict zones to neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt. There are also 18,000 Pakistani students and workers stranded in Libya, some of them in strife-torn cities. The government must ensure their security and arrange for their return to Pakistan till conditions improve.The political situation in the Middle East is still very volatile. Renewed protests in Tunisia against the interim government have forced the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, in charge of the post-Ali setup. In a relatively quiet Oman, two protesters were killed by the police. It might be argued that protesters in other countries would take their cue once again from the Tunisians for continuing their struggle till a truly representative government is formed and the rights of the people are ensured in the new setup. Recent developments in Saudi Arabia are of great interest in this regard, where Saudi academics, activists and businessmen are calling for elections. It seems that the winds of change have finally reached Saudi Arabia, where the ailing monarch tried to appease the people by allocating $37 billion in schemes for improving the lot of the low- and middle-income strata, including a pay raise for state employees. However, it seems that this will not be enough. Recently, protests have been held in the kingdom against government corruption. It is inevitable that the Arab mood will permeate here too. Given the spread of revolt throughout the Middle East, it will be vain for Gaddafi to insist on fighting back. It will only cause more bloodshed and leave behind an unenviable legacy after four decades of iron-fisted rule, whose end is nigh – Dailytimes