Muamar Qaddafi's "I'm just a lowly Bedouin" shtick has been wearing thin for about 30 years. And the release of a Wikileaks cable from the US ambassador in Libya may rip the curtain back for the Libyan people too.
Apparently, Qaddafi's family has been getting rich and misbehaving in a very unislamic way:
The latest batch of American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks includes a secret message to Washington last February from U.S. Ambassador Gene A. Cretz, who wrote that Qaddafi's family-notably, two of his especially wayward sons-had "provided enough dirt for a Libyan soap opera" and could endanger the country's stability.
The dirt, he said, included a series of alcohol-fueled New Year's Eve parties sponsored by one Qaddafi son in St. Barts-Beyoncé reportedly earned more than $1 million to perform at the party to welcome in 2010-and domestic-abuse charges against another Qaddafi son in London; he was accused of beating his wife in a London hotel suite, reportedly sending her to the hospital with a broken nose.
There are no reports of recent unrest in Libya to suggest Qaddafi might finish up like his counterparts in Tunisia-President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family fled into exile this month-or in Egypt, where street protests have seized in part on allegations that President Hosni Mubarak is attempting to orchestrate an undemocratic handover of power to one of his sons.
Cretz has also reported that the playboy antics of Qaddafi's sons have spilled over into politics. Resentment appears to be building against the dictator's dynastic ambitions for his son - the same sort of thing that contributed to the Egyptian uprising.
If another successful street uprising occurs in Egypt, it will only be a matter of time before some other Arab population sees what can be done with a little organization and a lot of courage.