Sunday, October 23, 2011

The End of Qaddafi Dynasty

October 20, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The Lybian strong man Moammar Qaddafi’s end is stunningly tragic but was predictable. Mindlessly and tenaciously, he fought a patently losing war against insurmountable odds. How could he convince himself and nurse the hope that he could still prolong his iron-fisted rule over a country that he held in bondage for over four decades. Not only that his regime was nakedly undemocratic, he was a merciless head of state who would entertain least compassion while dealing with his dissenters.

The fundamental and inherent flaw in the Arab totalitarian regimes is that their rulers were alienated from their subjects and kept themselves at the helm with ferocious brutality and by keeping their people under the specter of fear. They are more or less tribal chiefs who treat their countries as fiefdoms and personal estates.

While the world was moving faster towards socio-political freedom, emancipation of the societies from abomination of dictatorship, with flowering of democratic culture and hum drum of equal economic opportunities and domestic liberations, traits of egalitarianism and tolerance, these deeply entrenched autocrats kept their societies in a medieval mold.

An individual or tribe or family would be the owner of the entire wealth of the country and would keep their people in poverty and socially backward by denying them the fruits of modern societies and even fundamental human rights.

These tyrants would perpetuate in power by fraudulent elections and with a farce of ballot that would not allow any other contender to be successful. In case of Libya it was still worse as the charade of elections that were ceremonially held in Egypt or in Tunisia were never contemplated.

The Libyans suffered under a very oppressive regime for 42 years and would have remained in those wretched conditions if Arab spring or that monumental change had not been triggered by a street vendor in Tunisia. That powerful and irresistible wave of decades’ pent up people’s outrage has started casting away the brutal autocrats one after another. The NATO certainly played a decisive role in obliterating Qaddafi’s loyalist forces and keep them at bay against the revolutionary militants.

The gubernatorial change in Libya with the death of Col Qaddafi has come about after hair-raising sacrifices and a huge loss of people in the civil war that started early this year in that beleaguered mass of land. The Libyan freedom fighters’ uprising is unique in the senses that it was waged against a ruthless despot, who was weird, eccentric and perhaps mentally sick.

Qaddafi was one time a hero under the banner of Arab nationalism and symbol of liberty, freedom and résistance against the discredited monarchies. His revolt against aging king Idris in 1969 was overwhelmingly hailed by his people. But in subsequent times, while the Arab nationalism became merely a slogan, devoid of any substance or passion, the freedom from the monarchies were switched into oligarchies or autocracies by strongmen like Qaddafi, Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali of Tunisia.

It is for the first time in the history of Arab lands and also of North Africa mostly with Islamic regimes that a fresh breeze of true independence and democratic order has started blossoming in those closed societies lorded over and spawned by heartless individuals through police, army and intelligence network.

There is a visible parallel and similarity between the humiliating capture of Saddam Hussain and Col Qaddafi. The Iraqi dictator was found in a rat hole in Baghdad’s vicinity while the Libyan despot was dragged out of a sewerage pipe and subjected to a punitive degradation. Both pleaded mercy although Saddam merely uttered, I am Saddam Hussain?

Does not this irksome and mind boggling spectacle resonate unmistakable message across the globe that the days of absolutism and authoritarianism are numbered? Would this spine chilling turn of events and the utter distasteful end of the onetime powerful and power-hungry oligarchs convince the remaining tyrants in the same region to hand over power to the people in a peaceful manner and quit their vulnerable citadels?

There is dire and candid clarion call for both Bashar Assad of Syria and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, to call it a day and initiate negotiations with the revolutionary leaders for transfer of power. Otherwise they would also be dragged in the streets and subjected to indignities besides an eternal condemnation and curse from the people whom they ruled in most inhuman, repressive and pitiless manner all these years.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) that has to take over the reins of war-torn Libya has to move very cautiously, swiftly and decisively to restore law and order in Libya. The Council bosses should declare amnesty for those who fought on the side of Qaddafi except those who were involved in war crimes. The smooth transition from a rigid dictatorship to open and democratic environment is going to be difficult but not impossible.

The pillaged infrastructure has to be rehabilitated and normal civil life has to be restored. A new constitution based on human values and democratic guidlines has to be evolved. The announcement of the NTC that Libya is liberated from the tyranny of an oppressive regime should be actually observed with abolishing the strict obscurantist and uncivilized regulations that were in vogue during Qaddafi long rule.

It is only a truly open and democratic era that would bridge the tribal, ethnic and regional discords that have been so pronounced and deep rooted in Libya. It would be a Herculean task to remove the mutual bickering and to avert the power tussle between the revolutionary groups. But with caution, sagacity and honesty of purpose, the NTC bigwigs should be able to bring about the historic switch from a rigid autocracy to a multi party system of government based upon the will and votes of the people through fair elections.

Libya would seethe with the preliminary teething problems but hopefully would finally emerge as a cohesive, democratic and united country with distinctive hallmarks of social freedom and prevalence of human and fundamental rights and the emergence of a veritable modern state. Libya is an oil rich country and in not too distant future it can tread towards the goal of prosperity and economic empowerment for its people.

The whole world is watching Libya with awe and keenness as to how its new leaders deal with the post Qaddafi challenges and come out with flying colors

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