Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Libya Without The Colonel
By Elias Harfoush
For over four decades, Libya had belonged to Gaddafi and Gaddafi had belonged to Libya. Today, we are “discovering” that Libya may survive without Gaddafi as its leader. The sun is rising and setting, and the earth is still revolving, and the Libyan people will not become orphans, despite the absence of Gaddafi.
The Colonel was so attached to his country and people that he could not imagine leaving Libya in other hands that can run its affairs the way he and his entourage did! This is why, ever since the launching of the revolution, Gaddafi was surprised by the Libyans who took to the street to call for his departure. How could he not be surprised when he has forgotten that there are people in Libya? All that there is, according to him, are rats and traitors and agents that cannot be trusted to take over the country’s affairs as the country has become similar to a farm for him.
If there is a meaning for the fall of Muammar Gaddafi and for the possible fall of similar rulers in our region, then it is that the countries remain while the rulers go away. Libya will remain after Muammar the same way that Egypt remained after Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia after Ben Ali; and the same way that any other country in the region will remain, including those countries where the name of the president has become a synonym for the country after being in power for a long time. The fall of these rulers was accompanied by the fall of the equation according to which a colored book written by the ruler was turned into part of the country’s Constitution; the ruler’s party had turned into the inspiring leader; and the rules governing the life of his children had become the rules that he used to govern the members of the people, “his people.”
Libya is still present on the world map despite Gaddafi’s absence. The Libyan people are capable of eating, drinking, breathing, and going through their daily lives without any guidance from the Green Book. These people have proven that they are ready to sacrifice their most valuable belongings, i.e. their lives, in order to gain their freedom. The long tyrannical decades of the Colonel’s rule almost caused us to forget that the Libyan people are capable of standing on their feet and offering these sacrifices.
This talk does not apply to the Libyan population alone, although the reason for this talk is the occasion of this population’s victory. This talk applies to all the rebelling populations in the Arab streets. These populations could do nothing but regain the rule of their countries in order to let the ruler know that they have reached an adult age and that they are capable of deciding their own fate, without any concern in case he [i.e. the ruler] along with his family decide to pack and leave. This is because an Arab country, like all the countries on earth, belongs to the people, rather than being a part of the ruler’s heritage.
A ruler obtains his legitimacy through the decision and confidence of his free people. This “legitimacy” cannot be imposed on the people through killings, security apparatuses, and the weapons of fear. It is true and unacceptable that the ruler is “produced” externally. It is also true and required that this ruler should become a “domestic product”. In other words, he must rule through his people’s free choice rather than through the terrorization and fabrication methods that extended the life of regimes until they reached their fateful ends.
This is regarding the ruler. As for the people, who are accused of “receiving their orders from abroad,” what helps them face this “accusation” is that it is the only remaining option left for them between the repression of internal rulers and the acceptance of external help, which might help them regain their rights to their country’s ownership.
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 23/08/2011