And so, it has been proven that the King of Kings of Africa, the Guide of the People was a mere mortal who bled red like the rest of the Libyan people he tortured and executed. For once, his hands were covered in his own blood and not others’. The circumstances of his demise are still unclear. His eighty-vehicle strong convoy was annihilated by strafes of fire from NATO gunships as he was escaping westward from Surt, his hometown and final stronghold. He sustained injuries from that attack, but he was alive when rebel fighters pulled him out of a culvert where he was holed up not far from the site of the attack. Whether he bled to death or was vengefully executed by his captors is unknown at this time.
The blurry videos and pictures of Qaddafi’s capture and death broadcast on al-Jazeera and other Arab networks, sinister war trophies purloined from history by a bitter crowd, depicted a bloodied and livid man verbally degraded and physically abused by his captors. I deplore the unfair death of any man no matter how despicable he might be, but it is understandable how the young rebels, being primarily a civilian armed force driven more by reprisal than professional military discipline, could fail to stop on a dime and lack magnanimousness towards a dictator who brutalized so many. They seethed in a claustrophobic police state without a voice for so long that when they finally came face to face with the dictator that gagged them, they had to sound as loud as machine guns.
No one really cares. Everyone in Libya is ecstatic that the leader of the revolution who spoke the mind he lost is dead. They see it as a fitting end for an egotistic and self-delusional murderer who, when they peacefully voiced their grievances, formed his goons and hired mercenaries into dead squads to kill the men and rape the women.“I am a glory that Libya cannot forgo and the Libyan people cannot forgo, nor the Arab nation, nor the Islamic nation, nor Africa, nor Latin America, nor all the nations that desire freedom and human dignity and resist tyranny! Muammar Qaddafi is history, resistance, liberty, glory, revolution!” he proclaimed in February in his inimitable way. He gave a whole new meaning to the enlightening words Steve Jobs shared with students at the commencement speech to the Stanford class of 2005—“Stay hungry and stay foolish”.
Would it have been ideal to mete out institutional justice to Qaddafi and the nation’s erstwhile tormentors in his employ? Of course. It would demonstrate that the populace has a stronger esteem for the rule of law and would have set the future Libya on a solid path to democracy. In essence, is it not a total absence of equity that the Libyan people reproach to the rule of Qaddafi? But Libyans feel that his death brings an immediate measure of closure to forty-two years of Praetorian governance a lengthy trial could never deliver. The people are so traumatized that they no longer want to see his unbridled oratory theatrics, hear him spew invectiveness on the rebels, agonizingly rant about how Libya is victim of a Zionist, U.S., and NATO conspiracy to steal Libya’s oil and gold, and boastfully claim he is the Brother Leader of the Revolution who brought glory to the Libyans.
After the euphoria of freedom dims, the challenge of building a consensus around a central government will become more immediate. The dangers of widespread fighting among tribes and factions for influential portfolios in the next government are palpable. The Transitional National Council has been criticized as being opaque and unrepresentative of all Libyans; It has failed to assuage the fears of residents whose relationship with armed militias that are supposedly maintaining order has become fractious and confused. Its leaders have already announced they will resign once victory is attained. Now that the primary and unifying mission of the rebels has been accomplished, the conflicting and hidden agendas of Libya’s power brokers, some funded by the U.S. and NATO while others are supported by China, Russia, or Iran, will emerge. The fighters will consolidate along tribal and geographic lines. This problem was already apparent when multiple rebel groups from different cities and with distinct tribal affiliations clashed with each other in Tripoli. Qaddafi might have died, but the violent culture that fed his youth is still the source of intellectual nourishment for most Libyans. As Che Guevara once said: ” cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.” It will take tremendous political willpower and restrain and civic selflessness from all to navigate the next formative stages of Libya’s future and prevent the chaos Qaddafi had eerily predicted would ensue upon his removal.
A. T. B. © 2011