I have just watched Qaddafi's son essentially tell the Libyan people on State TV that if the revolts, especially in the Eastern part of the country, continue, there will be a brutal crackdown, more blood will flow (credible reports are coming in of 200 killed so far), the country will be split in two, separating east and west, and that - this is where it gets surreal - the Western powers will occupy the country. The chilling threat of more violence is evidence to me that the revolt is now seriously threatening the regime. Qaddafi also used the Islamist card, although again there seems to be little evidence of the mass protests being religiously inspired.
The violence looks as if it might be the worst yet in what is now a cauldron of democratic revolt from Eastern Iran to Eastern Libya. Money NYT quote, backing up the previous reports that some of the security forces in Bengahzi had changed sides and were now with the protestors:
By Sunday, thousands of protesters had occupied a central square in front of the courthouse, which some call their Tahrir Square after the epicenter of the Egyptian revolt, and they were chanting the same slogans that echoed through the streets of Tunis and Cairo, “The people want to bring down the regime.”
By evening, two witnesses said, the protesters had stormed the security headquarters, and, these witnesses said, a few members of the security forces had defected to join the protesters.
“These young men are taking bullets in their chests to confront the tyrant,” Mr. Hadi said, speaking by phone from the siege of the security building.
But more than a thousand other members of the security forces had hardly surrendered. They were concentrated a few miles away from the courthouse in a barracks in the neighborhood of Berqa. Witnesses said young protesters were attempting suicidal attacks on the barracks with thrown rocks, stun grenades usually used for fishing, or occasionally vehicles stolen from the security forces. But the security forces responded by shooting from the cover of the fortified building, while others shot from vehicles as they cruised the side streets.