The clock is ticking for another Arab dictator. Muammar Gaddafi is now living his last days - or maybe hours - as “leader.” For over 40 years in power he has declined to be called "president" – of the Libyan people.
"Give him a few more hours – 48, maybe less - 36 and he will fall," commented a Western diplomat who asked for his name to be withheld, to Ahram Online.
According to this well-informed diplomat, "Gaddafi should have fallen earlier, but he went wild using force to quell demonstrators."
Today, this diplomat argues, Gaddafi is still capable of inducing more bloody violence against his own people "but not for long because he is losing the army."
Defection within the Libyan army against Colonel Gaddafi, who assumed power in 1969 after toppling the Libyan monarchy, is on the rise, according to the assessment of Western and Arab diplomats. "The countdown is on and I think that by the end of this week we will be living in a(n) [Arab] world [free of] Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali," commented an Arab diplomat who asked for his name to be withheld.
If Gaddafi does go down this week he would be the third Arab leader to be toppled by his own people this year and the third under the microscope for human rights violations. On 15 January, Tunisians toppled their 23-year ruling president, Zein Al-Abdine Ben Ali, after 23 days of demonstrations. Less than a month later, 11 February, Egyptians toppled the 28-year ruling president, Hosni Mubarak, after 18 days of demonstrations. On 17 February Libyans started massive demonstrations to topple Gaddafi.
However, on Friday night a clearly shaken Gaddafi threatened to turn Libya into a fire ball.
"Libya is already a fire ball; our informal assessment is that by the time this nightmare comes to an end there will be thousands of Libyans killed by Gaddafi," said a UN Human Rights Council source who asked for their name to be withheld.
She spoke only hours after the Geneva-based council decided to suspend Libya's membership on Friday night.
On Saturday a group of over 200 NGOs and intellectuals called for firm and prompt action to end the bloodshed in Libya.
The NGOs called upon concerned international and regional organisations, including the UN and the Arab League, to act without delay to "prevent further atrocities from occurring".