The massive and indiscriminate violence meted out to the unarmed, peaceful protesters by the brutal, tyrannical regimes in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco and Algeria has shocked the world.
Reports that hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands wounded by mortars, missiles, helicopter fire and aerial bombings in Libya are simply outrageous.
The pathetic attempt by Muammar Gaddafi and his son, Saif, to justify these attacks by raising the spectre of the “danger” of Islam in a bid to gain Western support will be in vain, just as it failed to protect Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.
Mubarak was the lynchpin of US foreign policy in the Middle East, primarily to dominate and exploit the oil-rich region and protect Israel. If they were unable to save Mubarak, they are unlikely to save Gaddafi.
The use of a ruthless mercenary force to massacre his own people reflects his fear of being ousted.
Now he has shrewdly played the tribal card by pitting one against the other to maintain his regime.
Other besieged Arab regimes in Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco and even Saudi Arabia are desperately resisting their own popular revolts.
The South African experience against apartheid demonstrates that the downfall of all oppressive regimes and dictatorships is historically inevitable.
The images of Gaddafi as a dashing young colonel ousting a decrepit king; training freedom fighters from South Africa, Palestine, Ireland and South America; and defying the hegemonic designs of the US and the West have long dissipated with 41 years of misrule.
There was a time when some of these dictators – such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and, indeed, Gaddafi – were acknowledged and embraced by South Africans for their support against apartheid.
Unfortunately, however, these heroes of the past are the villains of today – because they have betrayed the trust of their people.
In the current situation, South Africa cannot remain hostage to these past relationships by issuing feeble calls for “restraint” in the face of such atrocious betrayal and butchery.