By Saeed Qureshi
It can only be a conjecture that one of the options that USA might be contemplating to exercise is to heavily bomb the palace or the sheltering place of the Libyan reckless president Col Mummar Qaddafi to physically remove him from the scene. The United States Air Force carried out such airstrikes on Qaddafi's residence Bab al-Azizia compound on April 15, 1986 in which his adopted daughter Hanna was killed. Qaddafi and his family escaped from that attack. The attack was conducted in response to the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing. That aerial attack, in fact, bolstered the image of Qadaffi both domestically and around the world.
But the time now is drastically different. The mesmeric attraction as a formidable, fire-spitting revolutionary that Qadaffi had for his people and in some other countries seething with sentiments of anti imperialism and ante Americanism is now over. The revolutionaries of the ilk of Qaddafi have squarely disappointed the revolutionary cadres and proponents around the world because of their being self centered and brutal on their own people for perpetuation in power.
He had been outstanding among the post second world revolutionaries and diehard nationalists among the anti imperialist preachers and torch bearers. But while these revolutionaries enhanced themselves and their clans, families and aristocracy around them, they marginalized and disempowered their own people as not to be able to challenge their exalted positions.
This time the situation is fundamentally different because these are not foreign plot hatchers or devious imperialists that are challenging the absolutism of these revolutionaries who changed their missions from serving the oppressed people to raising the family fiefdom and consolidating clannish dynasties. It would be instructive to see that these uprisings, rebellions and grassroots revolutions in such states are being carried out by the local populations against those rulers who were primarily pro- west surrogates and mercenaries of the global hegemons.
Barring Qaddafi who has distinguished himself as a freakish and raucous head of state, the ousted Mubarak of Egypt and Tunisian Ben Ali were allies of America. Besides, the president of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh, the sovereigns in Jordan and Oman and Kuwait and UAE and Bahrain are not different from Mubarak and Zainul Abidine Ben Ali. It is a common knowledge that these autocrat rulers enjoyed the blessings of the west and particularly that of the mighty United States.
So those proponents and peddlers of conspiracy theories who see sinister plots behind these uprisings as engineered by the villainous west ought to change their erroneous perceptions for the present. This is not a grand design and grand slam of the treacherous west as many commentators are trying to make the word believe. These momentous and earth shaking upheavals are from the people forcibly kept like cattle and servile all these decades by their repressive leaders.
Middle East and North Africa have been infested by the heartless and tribal tyrants for centuries. These regions have always been ripe and vulnerable for the monarchs and powerful military heavy weights to bring into submission their people because there has never been a tradition for civil rights or respect for common man. The sheikhs, the tribal chiefs and the notables have been dominant and repositories of local or regional power, which means of their tribe or that of the country.
After the disintegration in early 20th century, of the Ottomans caliphate as the last strong Muslim empire, this entire region was usurped and colonized by the imperialist powers and victors of the fist world war. The clannish culture is the worst form of local government in which the common people remain servile and subjects to the ruling elite families. The tradition of constitutional democracy has always remained alien and elusive to this region.
Under the impact of the changing times and because of their eroded credibility these yester years revolutionary icons have lost their luster and appeal for their people. Therefore, the people in these countries are now looking up to western powers that were not long ago hated and despised, to rescue and deliver them from their autocrat leaders. There is a 180 degree swing of the pendulum. The villains are being perceived as saviors and the icon as enemies.
To earn good name and to wash off decades old calumny and bad reputation as neo colonists and looters of the resources of the poor countries and facilitators of despots, this is a unique juncture for the western countries and particularly United States to come forward and support the bonded and grievously mal- treated nations by their rapacious leaders.
The change is inevitable in these countries and finally the people would triumph against their blood sucker leaders. If the west joins the struggling nations for emancipation from these despots, it would hasten this historic phase of stupendous change.
Col Qaddafi spoke before the media for two and a half hours explaining his government’s crackdown against the protesters which is now assuming armed confrontations. He blamed Al-Qaida and the drug addict youth of his country for a revolt against his government. At the same time he accused America of distributing arms to the Libyan people to wage a civil war to oust him.
Additionally he charged that the western countries wanted to capture the oilfields like Iraq. He also claimed that Libya has been in the forefront in fighting against the Islamic terrorists particularly Al-qaida meaning there was no presence of these terrorist bands in his country.
Now patently all these accusations are self contradictory. Firstly, the uprising in Libya is a spillover from other revolts and anti-government demonstrations in other countries of the Middle East that started from Tunisia.
Secondly, these movements are by their very nature secular and do not involve an anti-west or pro Islamic slogans or agenda. These are purely indigenous reactions to the severe repression, nauseating suffocation and deep decay in these societies accumulated over the years because of the authoritarian rulers who brooked no dissent or political opposition.
As far the anti-Qaddafi movement led or spearheaded by Al-Qaida or Islamic extremist, it is simply a ploy and ruse used by him to win over the sympathies of United States. How come that if Qaddafi has cleared Libya of the Islamic terrorists including al-Qaida, they are clamoring , marching and fighting in countless numbers all over Libya.
Libyan anti-regime uprising cannot be separated from other movements in the Middle East and Africa which Qaddafi is trying to prove. An ordinary citizen cannot even whisper against Qaddafi’s brutal government. How come then, that a huge number of al-Qaida activists were present in Libya, by defying the vigilant and ruthless Libyan intelligence agencies.
The drug charge is also squarely false. According to Qaddafi these hundreds of thousands of youth chanting slogans were drug addicts and are shouting under the influence of intoxicants. It would be utterly impossible for the drug trade to flourish in Libya on such a huge scale.
Even if Qaddafi brutally crushes the people’s movement for change and suppresses their urge for popular government, does he believe that he would be able to restore order and rule Libya in peace as was the situation before this tumult.
He is refusing to listen to reason and is ready to take all steps to remain in power. In the face of the phenomenal eruption of the people’s outrage and fury, he should have, as an honorable person, left the power as others two have done. If he is determined to fight to the last, he would inflict such wounds on his society that would take years to heal up. The sack, the pillage and the ruin would be colossal and irreparable for a long time.
If he fears that the West was planning to occupy Libyan oil wells and monopolize the oil trade, then he should hasten to open a dialogue with the uprising leaders and find ways to transfer power to them. There are several ways that a peaceful atmosphere can be worked out and a transition towards democracy, elections and openness can be started.
But with a closed and unyielding mindset, he refuses to accept that he is no more a popular leader and that the Libyan people were fed up with him, and that it was time for him to leave and thus pave way for Libya to usher into a democratic era. Only thereafter, all unwanted restrictions could be lifted, the society could be opened and unchained and the people to choose their representatives through elections. There is no gainsaying that a representative government is in a much stronger position to safeguard the national interests and to deal with outside interference and threats, than an authoritarian regime.