The West is offering lessons in democracy to New Libya; how to avoid the chaos we ourselves inflicted on the Iraqis
The remaining Arab potentates and tyrants have spent a second sleepless night. How soon will the liberators of Tripoli metamorphose into the liberators of Damascus and Aleppo and Homs? Or of Amman? Or Jerusalem? Or of Bahrain or Riyadh? It’s not the same, of course.
The Arab Spring-Summer-Autumn has proved not just that the old colonial frontiers remain inviolate – an awful tribute to imperialism, I suppose – but that every revolution has its own characteristics. If all Arab uprisings have their clutch of martyrs, some rebellions are more violent than others. As Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said at the start of his own eventual downfall, “Libya is not Tunisia, it’s not Egypt…It will become civil war. There will be bloodshed on the streets.” And there was.
And so we gaze into the crystal ball. Libya will be a Middle East superpower – unless we impose an economic occupation as the price of Nato’s “liberating” bombardment – and a less African, more Arab country now that Gaddafi’s obsession with central and southern Africa has disappeared. It may infect Algeria and Morocco with its freedoms. The Gulf states will be happy – up to a point – since most regarded Gaddafi as mentally unstable as well as mischievous. But unseating tyrannical Arab rulers is a dangerous game when unelected Arab rulers join in. Who now remembers the forgotten 1977 war in which Anwar Sadat sent his bombers to pulverise Gaddafi’s airbases – the very same airbases Nato has been attacking these past months – after Israel warned the Egyptian president that Gaddafi was planning his assassination? But Gaddafi’s dictatorship outlived Sadat by 30 years. …
Read more → independent.co.uk
Gaddafi is completely bonkers, a crackpot …
So we are going to take “all necessary measures” to protect the civilians of Libya, are we? Pity we didn’t think of that 42 years ago. Or 41 years ago. Or… well, you know the rest. And let’s not be fooled by what the UN resolution really means. Yet again, it’s going to be regime-change. And just as in Iraq – to use one of Tom Friedman’s only memorable phrases of the time – when the latest dictator goes, who knows what kind of bats will come flying out of the box?
And after Tunisia, after Egypt, it’s got to be Libya, hasn’t it? The Arabs of North Africa are demanding freedom, democracy, liberation from oppression. Yes, that’s what they have in common. But what these nations also have in common is that it was us, the West, that nurtured their dictatorships decade after decade after decade. The French cuddled up to Ben Ali, the Americans stroked Mubarak, while the Italians groomed Gaddafi until our own glorious leader went to resurrect him from the political dead. …
Read more : The Independent.co.uk
Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil
The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.
The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.
The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.
Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.
But now a warning. It’s not over. We are experiencing today that warm, slightly clammy feeling before the thunder and lightning break out. Gaddafi’s final horror movie has yet to end, albeit with that terrible mix of farce and blood to which we are accustomed in the Middle East. And his impending doom is, needless to say, throwing into ever-sharper perspective the vile fawning of our own potentates. Berlusconi – who in many respects is already a ghastly mockery of Gaddafi himself – and Sarkozy, and Lord Blair of Isfahan are turning out to look even shabbier than we believed. Those faith-based eyes blessed Gaddafi the murderer. I did write at the time that Blair and Straw had forgotten the “whoops” factor, the reality that this weird light bulb was absolutely bonkers and would undoubtedly perform some other terrible act to shame our masters. And sure enough, every journalist is now going to have to add “Mr Blair’s office did not return our call” to his laptop keyboard.
Everyone is now telling Egypt to follow the “Turkish model” – this seems to involve a pleasant cocktail of democracy and carefully controlled Islam. But if this is true, Egypt’s army will keep an unwanted, undemocratic eye on its people for decades to come. As lawyer Ali Ezzatyar has pointed out, “Egypt’s military leaders have spoken of threats to the “Egyptian way of life”… in a not so subtle reference to threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be seen as a page taken from the Turkish playbook.” The Turkish army turned up as kingmakers four times in modern Turkish history. And who but the Egyptian army, makers of Nasser, constructors of Sadat, got rid of the ex-army general Mubarak when the game was up?
And democracy – the real, unfettered, flawed but brilliant version which we in the West have so far lovingly (and rightly) cultivated for ourselves – is not going, in the Arab world, to rest happy with Israel’s pernicious treatment of Palestinians and its land theft in the West Bank. Now no longer the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel argued desperately – in company with Saudi Arabia, for heaven’s sake – that it was necessary to maintain Mubarak’s tyranny. It pressed the Muslim Brotherhood button in Washington and built up the usual Israeli lobby fear quotient to push Obama and La Clinton off the rails yet again. Faced with pro-democracy protesters in the lands of oppression, they duly went on backing the oppressors until it was too late. I love “orderly transition”. The “order” bit says it all. Only Israeli journalist Gideon Levy got it right. “We should be saying ‘Mabrouk Misr!’,” he said. Congratulations, Egypt!
Yet in Bahrain, I had a depressing experience. King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman have been bowing to their 70 per cent (80 per cent?) Shia population, opening prison doors, promising constitutional reforms. So I asked a government official in Manama if this was really possible. Why not have an elected prime minister instead of a member of the Khalifa royal family? He clucked his tongue. “Impossible,” he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC – the Gulf Co-operation Council – read Saudi Arabia. And here, I am afraid, our tale grows darker.
We pay too little attention to this autocratic band of robber princes; we think they are archaic, illiterate in modern politics, wealthy (yes, “beyond the dreams of Croesus”, etc), and we laughed when King Abdullah offered to make up any fall in bailouts from Washington to the Mubarak regime, and we laugh now when the old king promises $36bn to his citizens to keep their mouths shut. But this is no laughing matter. The Arab revolt which finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places and corruption. Watch out. ….
Read more : The Independent.co.uk
Gerald Celente, the man behind the famous Trends Journal, is Max Keiser’s guest for this edition of Press TV’s On the Edge. The main focus the show is on the relationship between Middle East uprisings and financial changes as a result of such political transformations. Enjoy.
– You Tube
by Mona Eltahawy, Columnist for Al Masry Al Youm, Al Arab
NEW YORK – If Tunisia kicked down the door of the Arab imagination by showing it was possible to topple a dictator, Egypt drew a blueprint of non-violence for the house of revolution that detailed how to demolish a stubbornly entrenched dictator; and now in Libya a mad man is trying to burn down the entire house rather than face eviction.
For 42 years, Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s antics have blinded too many to a brutality they finally see on full display as he desperately tries to quash the most serious uprising against his rule. If too many chose to not see, Libyans have known all too well.
Half the struggle for Libyans has surely been getting the world to move beyond Gadhafi the Clown, a role he seems to have uninhibitedly embraced. Who hasn’t been distracted by the eclectic wardrobe, the Kalashnikov-armed female bodyguards, and the tents he would pitch at home and abroad for talks with officials.
A source of embarrassment for Libyans, Gadhafi has never been a joke: disappearances, a police state, zero freedom of expression and poverty for at least a third of the population of country tremendously wealthy thanks to oil.
For years, Gadhafi squandered that wealth on causes and radical violence abroad that he chose because they epitomized the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” school of diplomacy. In 2003, just as the U.S. became mired in Iraq and its non-existent weapons of mass destruction, Gadhafi realized no one was scared of him anymore and voluntarily gave up his weapons of mass destruction programs.
When the world has paid attention to his crimes it has invariably been to those against non-Libyans such as the mid-air bombings of a French airliner over Niger and of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. Once he compensated families who lost relatives in those attacks, Gadhafi became persona grata and money and business deals came in, along with high-level dignitaries. …
Read more : Huffingtonpost
As fresh violence grips Libya.
Rights groups say there is a rising death toll from clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Libya.
Amnesty said 43 people had died in protests on Thursday, while other reports suggested dozens more were killed on Friday. The government has blocked websites and shut off electricity in some areas. State media outlets have warned of retaliation against anyone criticising Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The mainstay of the unrest is in regional towns and cities, where many people live in poverty.
Foreign journalists operate under restrictions in Libya, so it has been difficult to independently verify much of the information coming out of the country.
But the BBC has confirmed that several websites – including Facebook and al-Jazeera Arabic – have been blocked.
And the airport in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, has been closed, amid reports that protesters have taken it over. …
Read more : BBC
Hundreds of people have clashed with police and government supporters in the Libyan city of Benghazi. At least 14 people are said to have been hurt, with witnesses saying police fired rubber bullets and tear gas. The overnight unrest followed the arrest of an outspoken critic of the government, who was reportedly freed later. Pro-democracy protests have recently swept through several Arab nations. The demonstrators have forced the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt from power. However, correspondents say it is unlikely that Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi – who has ruled the country since a coup in 1969 – will lose power any time soon. …
Read more : BBC