Friday, 21 October 2011

Game Over/Start

Game Over

The images of jubilation surrounding Colonel Gaddafi's death has me feeling somewhat uncomfortable. Not that I am a supporter, a sympathiser or in anyway connected to Libya. The truth is it is for the Libyans to decide who runs their country and for them to define how they fit within the the Arab world and the global community. My feelings stem from what I see as the hypocrisy of the attitudes of the external forces who have a hand in Gaddafi's demise. When the mob and not the law decides who lives and dies, and the West looks on and applauds, I feel a sense of deep regret. 

Gaddafi's legacy will remain mixed.  His beginnings were reportedly fairly humble and he came to embody a revolutionary zeal when he assumed power in 1969. This included an unprecedented rise in Libyan living standards during his leadership - the highest in Africa -  though somewhere during the course of his 42 years in power, passion and reality parted and he was increasingly seen as disconnected and at times brutal. That lack of grip on reality perhaps proved fatal because there was clearly a time for him to step away.

There is always wisdom in some thoughtful modesty.


Right now Libya is in the hands of the National Transitional Council - they represent the 'new' Libya, but of course, Gaddafi had been on the run for several weeks before he was lynched. The civil war that led to the circumstances around his killing has occurred under the 'watch' of the NTC with the support of foreign players. This perhaps is the part that causes most discomfort. 

Once the jubilation over Gaddafi's death is over, what next? Will Libya find peace with itself after a national election? Or will it become another in a long list of countries where factions jostle to undermine one another? Civil war may not happen at all, but the evidence from around the world has proved that violent ends to dictators do not necessarily pave the way to stability. The rebellion in Libya remember, is still armed. Even in the more peaceful transition towards post-Mubarak Egypt, some of the hope and promises are yet to materialise.

And so the Arab Spring claims yet another. In the end Allah wills what Allah wills but what of Gaddafi? Friend or foe? Jubilation or mourning? 

I can't help feeling that if we are ready to 'celebrate' the deaths of 'dictators' because of the misery they cause, what of people who are styled as 'democrats' but equally responsible for misery and destruction? Aren't they in the frame as well? There were many who supported, but U-turned when it suited them. When it comes to lives lost and blood spilt as result of their actions, Gaddafi is not on his own. There are very few who are truly clean.

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