Radio Free Benghazi

Revolutionaries in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, have taken over a radio station and are broadcasting their message on the Internet. Benghazi has long been a center of dissent against the rule of Muammar al-Qaddafi, who has ruled Libya with a mercurial iron fist for more than four decades.

While it's hard to know what's going on in Libya given the difficulties in reporting there -- the country has no independent press to speak of, basically zero civil society, and is not at all welcoming to foreign journalists -- Libyan exiles have been working hard to get the word out.

The radio commentary itself is gripping, with breathless amateur announcers calling on the international media to cover what "the criminal Qaddafi" is doing and warning fellow Libyans about "foreign mercenaries."

"This is an Arab revolution not just a Libyan revolution. This is a Muslim revolution," I heard one announcer say.

Perhaps the best source in English is the Libya February 17 blog, which is posting videos and short dispatches sourced to Twitter. What seems clear so far is that the government's response to widespread and growing protests has been brutal, with reports of at least 24 deaths so far and likely many more. This is not going to be the kind of peaceful revolution that I witnessed in Cairo.


Next up: Djibouti?

Another North African government faces mass protests

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Djibouti to call for President Ismael Omar Guelleh to step down.

The demonstrators were reportedly monitored closely by security forces in riot gear.

Mr Guelleh's family has governed the Red Sea city state since independence from France in 1977.

Like Bahrain, Djibouti is a tiny country with a major U.S. military presence. More than 2,000 U.S. troops are based at Camp Lemonier, a former French military installation. Djibouti is in a  prime spot for U.S. counterterrorism operations, bordering Somalia and just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen.  

Guelleh, accused of targeting opposition leaders for arrest and shutting down critical newspapers in previous elections, was received at the White House in May and met with Vice President Joe Biden.