Gaddafi and His Termination

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Abolqasem Qasemzadeh

Gaddafi has finally met his end. The analysis of his rule is usually done from two viewpoints: internal and external. Some analysts focus on 42 years of his absolute rule; a time when Libya was governed by his order and there was no other law, but his commands. Here, the 42-year old government of Libya is discussed as a dictatorship.

Others yet analyze his rule from political and security angles as well as from standpoint of his economic and civil records. They focus on revenues of a country which was considered wealthy as a result of its underground reserves as well as production and sales of crude oil and economic exchanges with the outside world. In terms of development indices, however, the country was considered underdeveloped. The review of Qaddafi’s long rule starts with his military coup d’état some 42 years ago which put an end to Malik Idris’ rule over a tribal Libyan society which was also extremely impoverished. At that time, Libya was a closed community with a population of about 3 million in North Africa, which was neither very much in touch with what happened in the Middle East and other Islamic nations, nor greatly connected to the rest of Africa.

Under Malik Idris, Libya was actually an isolated and forgotten tribe. At that time, the present-day sheikdoms on the southern rim of the Persian Gulf was also tribal societies or had not been recognized as independent states yet. The British government dominated the whole region from the Persian Gulf to North Africa through its political and military presence.

The coup d’état staged by the army colonels in Egypt put an end to monarchy in the country. The new government was formed by General Naguib which was later taken over by a colonel, Gamal Abdel Nasser. He announced the birth of the Arab Republic of Egypt. That period was characterized by:

1. Soaring of the Arab nationalism which was a kind of new theory seeking unity of all Arabs on the basis of their racial strengths. It heavily depended on Arab nationalistic slogans;

2. Introduction of a new form of social and economic Socialism known as Arab Socialism which was inclined toward the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the present-day Russia);

3. Dependence of the Arab Socialism on the eastern superpower (USSR);

4. Opposition to the Zionist regime and Arab support for the Palestinians;

5. Definition of new unions based on the Arab nationalism as opposed to Arab countries which still remained in the Western camp and affiliated to the United States, France and UK.

Nasser also discovered two other young army officers. The first was Gaafar Muhammad an-Nimeiry in Sudan with the second one being Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Both of them managed to take over the rule in their respective countries through military coups which were supported by Nasser. The 27-year-old Gaddafi, who saw himself as the absolute leader of his country, defined Libya’s interests in relation to himself instead of considering himself in the service of his people and country. From his viewpoint, the history of Libya was the history of Muammar Gaddafi. Any analysis of his 42-year rule of Libya should begin at this point.

After Gaddafi snatched the power in Libya, he gradually proved that he wanted his country to appear more than just a small North African nation. The second approach to Qaddafi’s life as well as its rise and fall can be reviewed through Libya’s regional and international relations under his reign. Barely a year had passed from Gaddafi’s coup in Libya when the Arab armies led by Egypt’s president Nasser experienced a catastrophic defeat in their war with Israel. Nasser died at the peak of the crisis. Following his death, Gaddafi did everything to pass himself as the leader of the Arab nationalism and Socialism. However, he was hindered in his effort by empowerment of Baath parties in Syria and Iraq and also by Saudis and the rise of the former Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat. Gaddafi was always willing to be known as a world-scale revolutionary figure like Cuba’s Fidel Castro or Che Guevara, or at least, Nasser in the Islamic world. In practice, however, he was neither well versed about the power balanced in the world, nor had enough knowledge of the theory of political struggle.

He was sometimes jealous of the global fame of the late leader of al-Qaeda, Bin Laden, and introduced himself as his arch-rival. Meanwhile, he had many cases of assassination and other terrorist activities in the European countries on his track records. He resorted to the policy of terror both in the country and outside to prove himself a powerful ruler. However, following 9/11 terror attacks in the United States he announced two major changes in his political approach. Firstly, he announced that from that time on he was just an African who had nothing to do with the Middle East and was only leader of the African unity. Secondly, he invited the West to work with him and tried to convince the Western countries by practically halting his country’s nuclear program. He declared that the Americans could take all the equipment and instruments he had purchased for the advancement of Libya’s nuclear program out of the country. France, UK, and Italy hailed his offer and the Americans showed him the green light.

The then British prime minister, Tony Blair, his American counterpart Condoleezza Rice, as well as presidents of France and prime minister of Italy visited Tripoli and their meetings with the Libyan ruler, Gaddafi, soon hit the headlines in the mainstream Western media. His son, Seif al-Islam, who had studied in Britain, was introduced as Gaddafi’s heir apparent. Seif al-Islam kept talking about the need for change in Libya and more political closeness to the West in his interviews in order to make the world believe him as a modern thinking young man. Gaddafi never protested to his ideas because he saw the new path which took Libya closer to the West and aligned the country with the West’s policies as the main way for salvation of his country. He had agreed to give oil to the West in return for credit and security of his government. In this way, he did his best to ensure transfer of power to his son, Seif al-Islam.

Gaddafi failed in his bargain with the West. They not only refrained from giving him anything, but also pressured him to introduce more changes in Libya. Taking part in an interview, Gaddafi admitted to failure of his efforts aimed at getting close to the West. He said that his Western friends had done nothing for him and added that his approach to the West had failed and no other regional country would follow suit with his model.

Gaddafi clearly saw that from the time he stretched his hand toward Europe and the United States, the Western media started depicting him as a “mad” dictator. He was no more respected by the international community, but was scoffed at and ridiculed.

During the past two years, his image both in Libya and outside was that of a criminal and defeated dictator. He was depicted at international level as a madman who saw terrorism as a means of changing the world. He was hated both inside and outside Libya. The path he had chosen took him to a point where he had to stand in the face of his own people and pitch his army against them.

He called the Libyan people who had risen for reforms in their country “rats’ and ordered his army’s special forces to mass murder people after retaking the country’s second biggest city, Benghazi. He ordered his commandoes to take the city’s women into captivity. The suppression left thousands of Libyans dead or injured and made Gaddafi the main enemy of his own nation.

Now, the Libyan people is celebrating Gaddafi’s death as the end of dictatorship in the country. Libya is a country made up of many tribes in which the influence and power of tribes and clans has the first say. Cultural poverty in the country is still the most important problem plaguing the country which is also a major barrier to reforms. The fall of Gaddafi is a prelude to entry of the Western European countries and the United States into the country aimed at plundering its oil reserves under the cover of various contracts signed with the new government for the so-called rebuilding of Libya.

Libya exports about 2 million barrels of oil per day which is the best crude oil in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket in terms of quality.

On the other hand, serious airstrikes by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have inflicted heavy damages on Libya. The new government is planning to make up for those damages by selling oil to the West or getting loans from the United States and some other European countries. The Western countries (US and Europe) have not yet unfrozen Libya’s foreign exchange assets which were frozen by the Western banks during the conflict. The new government should first formulate the country’s new constitution before organizing a public referendum in advance of parliamentary and presidential elections. Meanwhile, there is high risk of an outbreak of tribal violence in Libya. Domestic security is currently the most important concern of the Libyan nation. Final judgment about 42 years of Gaddafi’s rule will be a function of future course of the country. Will Libya tread the path of freedom and development or will its people regret the past many years from now?

Source: Ettelaat Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review

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