Actually I should highlight the hypocrisy of the remarks made by Østupid in his remarks concerning the death of Moammar Gadhafi. It is hard to believe that the day has finally arrived where Gadhafi and another of his sons, the brutal Mutassim have been killed at Sirte. For the Libyans it is a final victory over what had been a most brutal dictatorship. Over the past months I had learned a lot about the brutality of the regime, and I have read about the aspirations of the people who are now freed from this most brutal dictator.
What can be expected now that Gadhafi is dead? In an Islamic country one must expect that any democracy that is formed will be based upon Islamic law. That sounds like an oxymoron. However, we have to respect the fact that not every country follows the Westminster system. For this reason it should be no surprise that any Libyan government that is formed will be based upon Shariah.
So, what exactly was it that these people wanted? It is here that you have to look more closely at what took place during the rule of Gadhafi and his henchmen. It all comes back to the national flag, because that flag is the key to understanding both the revolution that took place and what these people want in regard to what they term democracy. Believe it or not what they have rejected is in fact Communism. Yes, it is true. Gadhafi had imposed a system of government (if you can call it government) upon Libya that was in fact Communism. His was a Leftist rule. His allies were all Marxists. The green flag was a symbol not of Islam in this case but of Marxism. Ah the irony of the watermelon!! This is absolutely classic because here is an example where Green was being used to hide the Red!!
Gadhafi had changed the name of Libya to be that of the Socialist Republic of Libya. Very few people outside of Libya have understood what in reality that meant to so many of the Libyans opposed to Gadhafi. The Green flag was a symbol of that Socialist Republic of Libya and it was a hated symbol, just like the Little Green Book of Gadhafi (aka the Little Red Book of Chairman Mao). This is why there was a lot of symbolism in the use of the old Libyan flag. What the people wanted was to shift their country away from Communism.
In the early days of the revolution I heard stories of business people who had their businesses taken away from them by Gadhafi, and they also lost shipments of their goods – just taken by the brutal regime. It would be fair to say that these people had a particular grudge over the loss of their livelihood. A lot of Libyans are still very capitalist at heart.
However, there are other questions that need to be answered. With those questions it remains a “wait and see” situation. I do think that some of the issues that were raised during the conflict need to be cleared up. One such issue relates to the “Al-Qaeda” question. Let me start with two men, one of them by the name of Belhadj who is a known Islamist. It is claimed that he had links to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but I am not yet convinced that such links were true or real. Mr. Belhadj has been very upfront on the subject and with him it has not been taqiyya. Whilst it is true that Belhadj had been to Afghanistan, it is not necessarily true that he knew Osama Bin Laden and the reason that I make that statement is based upon the fact that Belhadj was in Afghanistan fighting with the Mujhadeen not against the Allies, but against the Soviets when they invaded that country in the 1980s. Osama Bin Laden did the same thing at the time. Mr Belhadj stated that he rejected the ideology of Osama Bin Laden, and for that reason I doubt that he would have allowed any military equipment to find its way into the hands of that outfit. Belhadj is of interest because he was subjected to rendition, was forced back to Libya and was tortured for several years in prison. This also happened to another man, who is now suing the British Government over the rendition of himself and his family. Both men formed the LIFG. It has now been revealed that the LIFG was anti-Gadhafi rather than pro-Al Qaeda. You need to think about what that really means.
This brings me to the issue of those “missing weapons”. First of all, I question the statements of the group Human Rights Watch. As an extreme Left-wing organization they had an agenda. They lied about the number of people kidnapped, tortured and killed by the Gadhafi regime by grossly under-estimating the numbers involved. The people employed by the UN had a far better grip on the numbers that were killed in Misrata as an example. Then there were those killed in Zintan, Benghazi and other places. The NTC is itself exaggerating the numbers upwards with their claims of about 40,000 dead, but this is probably closer to the mark because in this last month alone several hundred died fighting to liberate Sirte from Gadhafi. However, HRW was the one that was going around claiming that there were thousands of weapons missing from warehouses. I think that they are grossly overestimating the weapons.
The pro-Gadhafi people were giving the impression that it was the revolutionaries that were sending weapons across the border into Chad and Mali. If people have no understanding of Libya then it is easy to understand them thinking that this alleged weapons movement was being done by those who were alleged to have links to Al Qaeda. The fact is that the initial reports were a fabrication picked up and repeated many times by people who simply did not understand the nature of the borders of that country. They also did not understand that both the Chad and the Mali governments were Gadhafi allies, and that they willingly participated in the lie.
Why do I mention the borders? It is simple to explain why I questioned these stories when they first arose. The revolution started in Benghazi which is closest to the Egyptian border. There were no weapons crossing from Benghazi and Tobruk and into Egypt. There were other pockets of resistance such as Misrata, districts within Tripoli, the mountain region (the Berbers), Zawiyah and Zintan to name just a few places. Only the mountain region was close to these countries where the weapons allegedly crossed the border, but the point here is that these areas were poorly resourced for weapons. Even in Benghazi there were no weapons that could have been transported. They were using what they found when they captured the fort. It never made sense that they would have wanted to supply Al Qaeda.
One of the most distinguishing features of this revolution had been the way in which the people of Benghazi had been swift in taking control and restoring order to the streets. This was also noticeable in Tripoli when the fall of Tripoli finally took place (the pictures of the checkpoints in Tripoli were indeed quite hilarious – the Libyans have a good sense of humour). What is more, when the NTC was formed they were swift to deny any link to Al Qaeda, and their motivation for keeping out foreign boots was to ensure that there was no reason for Al Qaeda to become active in Libya. This is why the fact that it was a Libyan who killed Gadhafi is indeed a moment of triumph for the people.
That being said, Al Qaeda remains a threat if the NTC fails to swiftly establish the workings of a government. Whatever they set up, it must be inclusive of all the people, and that includes the few remaining Christians and Jews (their numbers are small because they were forced to leave the country pre-Gadhafi era). It means allowing the Berbers to have their own language. There are many obstacles that must be faced by the NTC before a final structure of government can be achieved. This is the time of wait and see. Of one thing I am certain. The Libyans have rejected Communism.
One real problem will be relationship with Iran. It did come out that the people in Benghazi accepted some aid from Iran. However, it was medical aid, not weapons. Iran was providing weapons to Gadhafi. Their offer of aid to Benghazi was probably an attempt to make sure that Iran was relevant in the future. However, I do not expect that the new Government in Libya will ally themselves with Iran. I expect that they will remain allies with the British and the French. This is an alliance that goes back to the Second World War when Idris allied himself to the British and the French and the Libyans from Benghazi and Tobruk, as well as the Berbers fought against the Nazis and the Fascists under Mussolini. Tripoli on the other hand had stayed loyal to Italy during the Second World War. The pay back for Idris had been British and French help in defeating the colonial masters of Italy in the years after the second world war and the establishment of the Kingdom of Libya – and then Gadhafi seized control of Libya.
It is more important than ever to continue to monitor Libya. These are big changes because with the death of Gadhafi the African League has lost a big sponsor. Those African nations that have been a big threat have lost their terrorist sponsor. The Tuareg tribe which is on the border of Algiers is one of the biggest losers with the death of Gadhafi. You can expect those nations to continue to turn to China and to the Soviets for sponsorship. One of Gadhafi’s biggest supporters had been the Marxist Zuma of South Africa. He is yet another who has had his funding cut from beneath him. The same goes for Mali and Niger, as both governments were willing to shelter Gadhafi if he had managed to cross the border. Algeria had been playing a double game, but not so with Tunisia. The Tunisians had been amongst the first to recognize and support the aims of the NTC.
We can expect that pressure will be applied to Algeria to send back the Gadhafi family, and yes at least one member of that group should face charges over the brutality displayed to staff members. Niger needs to be forced to send Saadi Gadhafi back to Libya or at least hand him over to Interpol – there is an arrest warrant for Saadi over the deaths of people in Benghazi.
Today is the real beginning of a new era in Libya. The people have an opportunity to live in a free society. We can only hope that they will appreciate the opportunity that has been handed to them now that they are freed from the tyranny of Gadhafi.