Sunday, February 27, 2011

Qaddafi: the Self-Delusional Dictator

By Saeed Qureshi

Even if Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi can manage to hold on for some time more, his fate is nevertheless sealed. He will have to quit power. It is patently a self-delusional display to claim that the Libyan people loved him. Nothing can be far from truth.

A wise person all the more a ruler, who ruled his country by fear and force and with an iron fist, should have seen the irreversable changing trends on the planet earth, particularly the inescapable truth that the time for dictatorships was over.

Henceforth, no strong military chief or group of officers or the kings or queens would be able to rule their respective countries by suppressing their people or by claiming the divine rights of the kings.

The world has entered into an era of popular dispensations, the civil societies, the fundamental rights, the social justice, liberty and equality. It is a new environment in the making that would ensure pursuit of happiness, freedom of religions, and in which the regimes coming to power through collective will of the people expressed through their franchise.

A dictatorship survives as long as it can subdue the people by coercive means. There are no cushions or provisions for the dissention in a dictatorship run by one man or a family. The relationship between the ruler and the ruled in authoritarians regimes is always that of fear and oppression let loose by the former over the latter.

However, in democracies and the representative governments, there is always a way-out to change the government if it loses the trust of the people and cannot deliver on its pledges or cannot serve the country in a befitting manner.

Presently, Libya despite being one of the leading oil rich countries, with a wonderful landscape and with an enticing past, is completely isolated much against the will and intention of its own people as well as that of the world community. The United States and United Nations’ Security Council have imposed a wide range of terse sanction on Libya. The foreign diplomatic embassies in Tripoli are being closed down and the staff being recalled.

The foreign labor force and others categories of foreigners are leaving every day. Even the Libyan diplomats serving abroad are disowning their own government and chiding Qaddaffi for his insane overtures. It appears that the whole country has been thrown into a state of siege. The Libyan people are yearning and endeavoring against the long night of dictatorship and moronic rule of an eccentric individual who isolated his country from the rest of the civilized world all these four decades he has been in power.

The assets and accounts of Qaddaffi and his family members have been frozen wherever these are being maintained. Col Qaddafi’s megalomaniac mentality does not seem to allow him to be rational and sane enough to see that he is one man against the whole world. His unwarranted audacity and stubbornness is going to bring more miseries not only to his fiendish family but also to the great people of Libya wanting a change for a decent way of live and to throw off the yoke of dictatorship.

Qaddafi should know that he has lost the charisma, the father figure status, the revolutionary laurel and a competent leader by virtue of his colossal wrong doings both externally and internally. He has been whimsical, diabolic ruthless, a practitioner of medieval tribal form of rule.

He has remained impervious to the dissent, debate and political opposition. The culture of pluralistic political culture has been entirely nonexistent in Libya for almost forty years: a period in which the world have moved towards becoming a global village thanks to the widespread communications channels and ubiquitous media outlets.

His country needed drastic reforms in all domains be it socio-economic, political, or foreign relations. He had plenty of time to upgrade the quality of life of his backward, impoverished and socially marooned people. He very cunningly kept blocking the tentacles of modern trends and advancments in educations, health, communications, transportation, and openness in order to keep his people at subhuman level.
Those who lived in Libya for many years for economic reasons paint a gory picture of that country which has, by the choice of its own leaders, remained a pariah since the Second World War. After the abolition of monarchy in Libya in September 1969 and take over by a coterie of young army officers led by Col Qaddaffi then a brash, boiling revolutionary leader, a true disciple of Col Gamal Abdul Nasser, the people of Libya expected a total overhaul and a barrage of reforms to bring their country in the comity of nations as a modern state.

His people expected that henceforth, Libyan oil would be spent on the welfare of its own people, the economy would spur, the industries would be established, the democratic norms would take roots, and the prosperity and liberalism would flourish along with the freedom of faith.

But instead they got a ruthless and merciless ruler who was missionary for the old order and a champion of the medievalism and tribal culture thus negating his society the fruits of abundant oil and a robust economy and an unhindered interaction with the rest of the world.

He has wasted his time, energies and the wealth of his nation on dangerous, frivolous pursuits and wasteful plans leaving the people in the gird of time that appears to not have moved even a moment for four decades. On the contrary, the society has turned obscurantist and retrogressive and degenerated.

He fell back upon the oppression and the cruel methods for silencing the people, to crush their will and ambitions for socio-economic justice, for equality, for popular government based on universal suffrage. Instead of bringing a true people friendly revolution, he plunged his amazing country into the dark ages as if the time was static and the word was still passing through medievalism.

Even his vision and understanding seems to be stunted as he has failed to perceive or learn lessons from the gubernatorial historic changes, the toppling of the strong political pillars like Hosni Mubarak and Zainul Abideen in the Middle East. If he were intelligent, perceptive and discerning, he should have watched with lot of coneren and discreetness what is happening elsewhere in the Middle East.

Did he expect that he could alone quell the uprising because as he and his son says, “Libya is different from other countries”, now caught in the throws and gridlock of the revolutions, blowing away like a whirlwind one totalitarian state after another, from Yemen in South to the Egypt in North Africa, Bahrain on the Persian Gulf and his neighbor Algeria on the Mediterranean.

There is no exception and no escape from this avalanche. It is impossible for any Hercules or King or military commander to stem or stop it. Anyone who resists would be carried away by the force of the tenacious storm. The redeeming feature of the present popular uprising in the middle-east is that the word at large is on the side of the oppressed people now facing the bullets of the tottering regimes and their tyrants catching at straws to remain in the saddle of power.

The role of the United State, the United Kingdom, the West and the United Nations would be written in golden words as all these powerful global brokers, forces and catalysts are supporting the distressed and enslaved nations.

If this show of international solidarity continues which by all indications it would, the Middle East would, sooner than later, shape up as a civil abode, where human rights would prevail and the people will be able to choose their governments. There will be a free press, a powerful and independent judiciary, respect and dignity for citizens and social openness.

(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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