Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Libyan Rebels Victory Terrifying Al-Assad
By Dr. Hamad Al-Majid
The recent crushing victories achieved by the Libyan popular uprising gives the impression that the Gaddafi camp’s house of cards has suddenly collapsed: Gaddafi’s battalions have been defeated by the revolutionaries on their own ground in Tripoli, and the morale of Muammar Gaddafi's inner circle has broken down. Even if Tripoli does not fall in the next few days, the victories achieved by the Libyan rebels on the ground in strategic oil-producing towns such as Brega and Zawiya, their arrival on the outskirts of Tripoli, and their gaining control of some areas of the Libyan capital, is extremely significant, at least in refuting the theory – adopted by some analysts – that the struggle between the Libyan popular uprising and Gaddafi is in a state of deadlock.
The most important aspect of the Libyan rebels’ recent victories is the positive impact this has had on the “maturing” of the Syrian popular uprising. Prior to this, the defeats suffered by the Libyan rebels at the hands of Gaddafi’s battalions, and the Libyan leader’s ability to regain control of several Libyan towns from the rebels, inspired the Syrian regime. Such a frustrating situation brought hope to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which began to believe that the Western alliance [NATO] would be driven to despair, and would refrain from supporting the Syrian popular uprising. Thus, the dramatic change that has occurred in favor of the Libyan popular uprising will certainly cause a positive change in the Syrian arena. In brief, Gaddafi is horrified – as are the key figures in the Syrian regime – at the consecutive victories achieved by the Libyan rebels. The Libyan rebels are knocking on the doors of Tripoli, and Bashar al-Assad can hear this [in Damascus].
It is notable that the Libyan uprising's recent victories have also incorporated a number of figures that used to be close associates of Colonel Gaddafi, the latest being [former Libyan Prime Minister] Abdul-Salam Jalloud. In fact Jalloud's revolutionary speech [after switching loyalties], whose content was so anemic, and whose timing was so blunt, has been portrayed by some as “a goal scored after the final whistle". Such opportunism is reminiscent of the Pharaoh of Egypt’s repentance, who “when the (fate of) drowning overtook him, he exclaimed: I believe that there is no Allah save Him” [Surat Yunus; Verse 90]. Even if the Libyan rebels accept repentance under such circumstances, as Prophet Muhammad did following the conquest of Mecca when he pardoned his former enemies and accepted them in Islam – over the objection of some Muslims – according to the principle of “have you searched their hearts?”, it is incumbent that Abdul-Salam Jalloud withdraws to the background in the transitional period, following the fall of Gaddafi and his regime. In fact, with the number of people killed and injured in this revolution rising to 20,000, and many symbols of the Gaddafi's regime being implicated in crimes committed against their own people, it would be a genuine insult to the people of Libya if such figures participated in the forthcoming crucial phase in the decision-making process, having long spread corruption and suffering during the Gaddafi rule.
Ensuring that the former symbols of the Gaddafi regime – that have defected from his regime and repented for their past actions – step aside and retreat to the background will aid the cohesion of the Libyan revolution. The Libyans must also learn their lesson from the assassination of Major General Abdul-Fattah Younis, particularly if one version of events is proven correct, namely that Younis was assassinated by an armed group within the rebel camp who decided to kill him because they held him responsible for the murder and torture of Libyan political dissidents when he was Minister of Interior under Gaddafi. This is something that would certainly undermine the Libyan popular uprising. If the political symbols who defected from the Gaddafi regime continue to be “installed” in the ranks of the rebel leadership, then it is highly probable that we will see a repetition of the Younis assassination. Following this, it would appear to the world as if the Libyan revolution had begun to devour its own children. I am not calling for the defectors to be branded as traitors or excluded from political participation, but I am warning against installing them in leadership positions, and placing them on the front lines. The door for repentance is open, and the revolutionaries must accept the repentance of the former regime’s symbols, until Gaddafi draws his last breath.
This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 24/08/2011