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Bahrain and Libya: Similarities and differences - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s first political speech to the world after his people revolted against him was an advanced model of political hallucination, ranting, and raving. He tried to convince the world that the reason for what is happening in his country is that the Libyans are popping hallucinogenic pills distributed to them by the Al-Qaeda organization. The world received this explanation with laughter, pity, and ridicule at the ability of this man to change colors until the last moment. But it seems that he has found those that “bought” this lie and believed it.

A report in the prestigious New York Times newspaper says that Israel “is worried” about the democratic transformation in the Arab world because this popular transformation will usher in the radical Islamic organizations that will be hostile to Israel. Thus, Israel believes that Gaddafi is less of a danger if he stays than if he goes. (This is the same message that Gaddafi implied in one of his recent press interviews when he said that the removal of his regime would pose a danger to Europe and Israel). If the West is holding the Arab world (for instance, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen) accountable for violations by their security organs by resorting to violence, it is showing morally unacceptable “laxity” in its political and military decisiveness on the massacre that the Libyan regime is mercilessly perpetrating against its people as it resorts to the most lethal weapons, resources, and military materiel like tanks, planes, and rockets causing the fall of thousands of victims between killed or wounded in a horrible scene. The Arabs are required to treat the situation in Libya as one that requires military intervention in view of the international community’s military and political shirking of its duty. The Arabs should act the way they did in Lebanon when they sent the deterrent forces. What is required today is a “limited” move to strike Gaddafi’s planes and his defensive missile positions in order to protect the innocent blood that he is shedding. It is extremely unfortunate that there are two Arab regimes that are helping Gaddafi’s regime with pilots and military facilities. This is a big crime against the Libyan people. The Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] member states did well when they sent support forces “to safeguard security” in the Kingdom of Bahrain after the demonstrations and threats turned into total destruction and stopped being “peaceful”. This is especially true since there is a clear and frank call for dialogue made by the Bahraini crown prince who also offered a list of political transformations that respond to most of the demands of the opposition. By the way, this opposition does not speak on behalf of all the Bahraini people and not even on behalf of the entire Shi’ite sect in Bahrain.

There is a difference between demands without a ceiling and a ceiling without demands. These days, the opposition continues to raise the ceiling until there is no more ceiling. It keeps asking the government for more. The second part of the Bahraini society realized this and emerged clearly objecting to this and insisting on law and order. Moreover, this second part of the Bahraini society insists that it is important to make immediate reforms, eradicate the elements of discrimination and racism, combat the spreading corruption, and provide opportunities for employment, broaden the scope of housing, strengthen the value of a civic society, and avert tribalism and sectarianism that tear up nations. Libya has chosen to return to the age of Al-Jahiliyah [Age of Ignorance before the birth of Islam]. It has chosen to rely on tribalism and savagery at the expense of championing justice and the persecuted. Without firm intervention, the country will be torn into dispersed communities instead of removing Gaddafi and his children who are ruling the land. In Bahrain, the protection of the state “to achieve” reform is what will protect the land. Bahrain is not Libya; the situation is totally different but a move is required in both cases but for different reasons.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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