Subhan Choudhury

Libya uprising – an end or beginning of more misery?

September 25, 2011
Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Muammar Gadhaffi era has ended. But what is the prize for dragging him down from power? Is this a humanitarian war? Is it to liberate the Libyans? Or is it for Libya’s 1.6 million barrels per day output of high quality crude oil?

The war in Libya can be termed as a war of disinformation. The Western (biased) media have manipulated the situation from the beginning till date. For instance, the bombings by NATO fighters were not only carried out on military targets, but also hit civilian houses, hospitals, schools and hotels. So there is definitely more than the usual humanitarian reasons behind resorting to war.

Muammar Gadhaffi is no saint or a people’s leader. He is a dictator and one of the worst human rights violators of recent times. He regularly executed dissidents through public hangings and rebroadcast it on television. His agents have allegedly blew up a Pan Am flight, killing over 270 people and assassinated at least 25 critics including state figures around the world. He funded several terrorist organisations including Irish Republican Army till mid 1990s.

Gadhaffi’s negatives however do not mean that Libyans needed the so-called freedom. This may come as a shock to many but — Libya is actually considered to be the Switzerland of Africa and the lifestyle of its middle-class is better than most of the other African nations. Libya has the highest literacy rate in North Africa – 82 percent of its population can read and write. The schools and hospitals are free for all. Condition for women is much better than all Arab countries and they can wear whatever they want. Social service allows unemployed citizens to receive cash handouts. All the cash in overseas accounts thought to be in the royal family’s name turned out to be Libyan State owned money. Why this war then? Why this cry and bloodshed for the so-called democracy?

Ill fated democracy ahead

Libya faces enormous test in restructuring political landscape. The rebels, who would be termed as freedom fighters in future, most likely will not be able to do a good job after Gadhaffi’s fall. Gadhaffi has already destabilised the key functions and wiped out some state institutions. He destroyed the backbone of all political parties during his 42 years regime. It means, reformers will have to begin from the scratch. Security and reconstruction will have to be top agendas. Expectations of people who have sacrificed everything and taken up arms to fight for liberty will need to be met in the quickest possible time. There are many extremist groups and Islamists taking part in the war. They will eventually want their cut. In a nutshell there appears to be too complicated a scenario for the Libyans to hope for a brighter future.

On the other hand, NATO will not want to leave the National Transitional Council any time soon. It has ‘invested’ a lot of money into this war already, so it will crave its way in clinging on to its authority for some time more. The US spent over $1 billion in Libya so far. The heads of US foreign policy most certainly calculated the return on their investment — future oil contracts through favourable government. Hardcore pro-Libyans will oppose this; hence more unrest is likely.

With or without Gaddafi, Libyan people’s idea of ruling body is based on groups and tribes, which elects their own head, and then those heads together form national council. Their sense of freedom is different than that of the people in most of the democratic countries in North America, Europe and even Asia; hence there will be chaos all over.

China. Yes, I wrote it right… China

China will have its say in Libya’s future for sure. Before the war started, Libya was China’s 11th largest source of imports and 75 Chinese firms invested over $500 billions for infrastructure projects including oil, railways, and telecoms. There were 36,000 Chinese in Libya working on 50 projects before the NATO invasion. After the war ends, China will want contracts in rebuilding the infrastructures and oil fields. It will surely fund political figures running in the first election after Gaddafi’s fall.

Inadvertent consequences will hunt proceeding

The problem with such wars, uprising or movement, whatever this is called, is that the inadvertent consequences are generally very severe. The chiefs of the rebel groups are ex-politicians, mostly corrupt; and highly trained military officers who were with Gaddafi till they changed side after realising the time has come to gain out of the uprising. Very few look for national harmony and overall growth.

Personal gain will eclipse national gain surely as Libyans do not have the history of national identity to their side to keep them together. Importantly, rebels have had their share of blood in the meantime. There is no guarantee that a unified national government will get a chance to lead the way. Rebel fictions will always want to hunt the opposition down — hence more unrest, more bloodshed. To make things worse, al-Qaeda got its hands on some of the weapons that went missing from the military barracks. There is a possibility that some of these will be used against Libya in future.

Limited optimism?

The recent Arab uprising is one of the most significant movements in recent history. But it may well turn out to be Zionism (the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims) in the name of democracy. Afghans cheered after retreat of the Russians, Taliban took over, but where was democracy? The supremacy of the Shah in Iran yielded to the reign of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Where was democracy?

The US support to Islamist rebels in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union; and to Saddam haters in Iraq resulted into long-term chaos and disarray in both the countries. The Libya invasion was different than that of Iraq and Afghanistan in several aspects — it was completed via active participation of NATO, ground soldiers were not deployed initially and had support of the UN Security Council and a number of Arab League leaders. An optimist would therefore forecast an unlike future for Libya. The situation does not offer a bright future.

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Subhan Choudhury works as a political analyst for a London based risk analysis company. He also contributes to a Boston based research institute and a New York based publication as a freelancer.

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One Response to “ Libya uprising – an end or beginning of more misery? ”

  1. russel on September 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Well written post. But the aftermath for the Libyan people seems “meaningless” to me.

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