It is no use normalizing relations with the United States government if Libya does not first repair relations with its own people. Colonel Muammer Gaddafi has made a series of concessions to the U.S government and successfully re-established diplomatic relations with Washington D.C and London. He has even extended an invitation to President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice to visit Tripoli, delivered to his latest guest, Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the U.S Senate Foreign Relations Committee. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has already praised the Colonel’s cooperation with the west during a recent visit to the North African country.
The latest statements by Gaddafi”s eldest son, Saif al Islam are very interesting. He admitted the revolutionary courts in Libya, with their history harsh sentencing, are illegal. He even called for compensating their victims and invited Libyans in exile to return to their country.
These are welcomed pronouncements and remarkable admissions. What is required however is for the above to become reality. A comprehensive national reconciliation is needed between the regime and those who have suffered from it Local committees, revolutionary courts, and treason committees that killed many inside and outside of Libya should cease to exist.
This can only happen if Libya resolves its problems with its own citizens and admit the mistakes of the past. For too long, the Gaddafi”s government wasted the country’s resources on supporting terrorism from Ireland to the Philippines. It resorted to criminal methods such as the attempted assassination of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. In the end, Libya had to pay millions of dollars as compensation for the victims’ families. Ordinary citizens were deceived by illusionary projects and money was squandered due to impossible dreams.
National reconciliation requires a number of steps to be taken. Amongst the most important are the release of political prisoners and the dissolution of the local committee system. A multi-party system should emerge and citizens should take part in the decision making process. A general amnesty, the adoption of the Libyan constitution cancelled by the military coup, and compensation for the victims of execution and sham trials are the other essential steps to be followed. The question is can Libyan regime afford it?