Monday, February 28, 2011

An Imperfect Scene

By Hussein Shobokshi
This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 28/02/2011

At the time of writing, the Colonel [Muammar Gaddafi] is teetering on the point of collapse (both his regime, and himself!) He remains in a state of delirium, trying to justify or explain what has happened. Sometimes he describes what happened as a plot by "rats who had been drugged with hallucinatory pills", and other times brands them as adherers or followers of Osama Bin Laden. This, along with other insults, is how he describes his Libyan people, who staged a popular uprising to revolt and demand their right to live in dignity and justice, and to end despotism and corruption.
Muammar Gaddafi is effectively applying the reverse of all his slogans in the Green Book. By his own hands, and by means of tyranny, he is crushing the desires of his people, who have staged a genuine popular uprising, rather than dubious coup d'├ętat [as Gaddafi did]. Libya was previously ruled by an old, virtuous, but ultimately weak king, Idris al-Senousi. When a disillusioned mob revolted against him, calling for his overthrow, they chanted "We'd rather be ruled by the Devil than by Idris." It seemed that heaven responded to such a desire, and along came Gaddafi. Whereas the famous Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi once wrote:
 
If, one day, the people desire to live, then fate will answer their call. ("Life's Will", Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi)

 
It seems we can apply the reverse to Gaddafi:
 
If, one day, the people desire to die, then Muammar will answer their call!
 
Muammar Gaddafi is a crime in himself, which was masterminded by multiple parties. Gaddafi was brought to the limelight by President Jamal Abdul-Nasser, who took him under his wing, and provided him with legitimacy. Later on, we saw a greatly hypocritical relationship, founded on mutual interests, between Gaddafi and Western countries, who turned a blind eye towards his activities, as long as Libya continued to supply them with oil. Only two political figures tried to get rid of him, and punish him by means of force, namely [late Egyptian President] Anwar al-Sadat and Ronald Reagan, each having their own reasons.
 
Gaddafi's relations with the West continued to ebb and flow until the year 2003. Shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Muammar Gaddafi bowed deeply to the West, relinquishing his program to produce weapons of mass destruction, which he claimed to have been developing. Later on, he signed a number of protocol agreements with Western states, and this was crowned by the visit of the then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He went on to meet with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and subsequently his successor, Gordon Brown. Gaddafi's relationship with Tony Blair became stronger after the latter left office, and this contributed to the release of Libyan defendant Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was imprisoned in Scotland.
 
Furthermore, Gaddafi's relations with Italy improved enormously, to the extent that Italy became Libya's major economic and investment partner. During that period, the Libyan government hired the American "Livingston Group", a highly influential lobby in the US, and "White & Case", a renowned legal consultancy bureau, in addition to a variety of public relation firms, with the aim of improving Libya's image in Western public opinion. This prompted the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to meet with Gaddafi's son Motasem, and they held a joint press conference to boast of America's improved relations with Libya. At the same time, oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Halliburton, Total, and BP gained extraordinary benefits from lucrative oil contracts in the North African state.
 
The Libyan regime is now on its last breath, and still some seek to prolong its stay of execution, contributing further to the torture that the Libyan nation has suffered throughout this agonizing period.
 
In the meantime, people in Tunisia and Egypt are concerned that their revolution may be hijacked. People are casting doubts about the current interim governments in both countries; their relations with the old regimes, and the presence of key figures from previous ruling parties. These ruling parties were a major reason behind the popular rage and the subsequent revolutions in the first place. The achievement of the revolution was highly significant, but the management of the post-revolution period is no less important, in order to complete the process, and ensure that no one can hijack the achievement, or destroy this newfound hope.

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