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Friday, June 03, 2011

Libyan situation

Personally, I love the fist-pumping and the sunglasses, and the robes, and the special all-women body guard squad and telling the West and the imperialists where they can go. But now it's time Gaddafi has to go.

The first time I recall anything about Gaddafi was from an American newspaper brought back by a relative - he was depicted in a straight-jacket. I found out later that (I guess according to the Americans) he was detained in a mental hospital at some point and so that gave the cartoonists license to draw him as a frothing psychopathic mental patient. He was Enemy No.1 for the US at the time of the airliner bombings and the Americans were furious.

The second time I remember hearing about Gaddafi was when one of his children was killed in the US air strikes launched in retaliation for the terrorism for which Gaddafi was to be held personally responsible. I was in intermediate school at the time and recall a rather bitter argument with a friend of mine who had American parents, and - naturally - was all in favour of nuking the A-rabs and so forth. The attack was a petty and counter-productive response, the evidence for it cloudy.

Later on - only last year - Gaddafi's overtures to the West had brought about something close to normal relations. Those foreign oil companies who got their foot in the door with Gaddafi are about to reap a harvest now his regime is pushed back and the pro-Western government looks for cash to help fund the rest of the war with Gaddafi.

Gaddafi is a despotic, strongman character - a Saddam Hussein type. The same type of combination of personal rule and one party state organisation that Syria has and that some Gulf states have. They are capable of massacres and mass terrorism to stay in charge and Gaddafi has demonstrated that ruthless capacity to use it. He may be losing officers and diplomats who see the writing on the wall, but Gaddafi seems to exert effective control over the whole state military, and retains the capital intact, so he still has several chips to play yet.

It is no surprise that he is plotting a doomsday scenario of Saddam-style guerilla resistance by distributing weapons to his tribe and supporters:

Promotion of fanatical and violent Gaddafi loyalists within the armed forces is said to have been one trigger for the defection of five regular army generals who announced their switched loyalties in Rome on Monday.

They said they could no longer tolerate the revenge attacks in rebel towns that this younger generation of officers had overseen.

Col Gaddafi has enforced his rule in recent years by packing the security services with members of his own small tribe, the Gadadfa, and an allied tribe, the Megarha, to which the alleged Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Megrahi belongs.

They themselves have been taught to fear retribution from the rebel side if Col Gaddafi goes.

“There will be chaos here if the colonel goes,” said one loyalist policeman. “We will not let it happen.”

At the time the Nato no-fly zone was imposed, Col Gaddafi said he was issuing a million guns to people across the country. In the days afterwards, journalists were introduced to teenagers and young men proudly brandishing their new Kalashnikov assault rifles.

But the Tripoli activist said that the purpose of the distribution had since become clear. Families applying for weapons had to prove their pro-regime credentials.

Those with identity cards showing they were from areas where there had been anti-Gaddafi demonstrations were automatically refused.

“It is another trick by the regime. They only give weapons to supporters,” he said. “This is what worries us now.”

Elba? St Helena? Is there an island off the Libyan coast for him and his family? If there was a Libyan island then the Gaddafi's family pledge to remain forever in Libya, "to live and die in Libya", could be compatible with a surrender of power. But who would keep guard? And what's to stop him doing a Napoleon and staging an escape and return?


At 7/6/11 8:43 am, Blogger Gosman said...

While not trying to downplay the death of any child I must correct a misconception about the girl who was killed in the raid on Gaddafi's compound in 1986. From a number of accounts the child was adopted by Gaddafi after she was killed. Gaddafi was essentially using her death for propaganda purposes. It just highlight's once again the regimes abhorent nature.


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