Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Like Father, Like Son | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People all over the world are watching with dismay and grief, as massacres are being committed in Libya by the regime against its own, unarmed people. Meanwhile, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, appeared on TV to address the Libyan people. Saif al-Islam did not even bother to introduce himself, or say in what capacity he would be talking. He holds no official post or leadership position, entitling him to speak in the name of the government or the state during such a critical and catastrophic situation. His aggressive speech, filled with threats and intimidation, confirmed to the world that Saif is indeed the son of Muammar Gaddafi, who will not leave Libya before the last man or woman, or the last bullet. Saif warned that [if protests continued] bread would be worth as much as gold, and the oil fields, which had united the Libyans, would be lost forever in a country torn apart.

Tunisia was in many ways the perfect revolution; whilst Egypt’s revolution was beautiful, inspiring and memorable. However, the revolution in Libya has so far been bloody and barbaric, because the regime is accustomed to that approach.

Saif al-Islam was the civilized front of the Libyan regime. He presented himself as an intellectual with a religious inclination, and a political and economic openness to the world; the West in particular. Saif portrayed himself as an art connoisseur with a delicate taste; and a passion for exhibitions, antiquities and arts. [Politically speaking] he tried to come across as someone who took the initiative, and portrayed himself as a political mediator between controversial parties, and the Libyan regime. He credited himself with the (limited) open-media experiment inside Libya; promised political reform, and criticized the government’s performance, the government of his father.

Yet Saif al-Islam was ultimately incapable, and announced his retirement from politics after he had failed to achieve any tangible accomplishments. Nevertheless, the mask he wore had fallen, and his true nature appeared. It became clear that he was part and parcel of the regime, and the policies he was advocating were mere slogans he had contrived to win over the youth and public opinion. Saif al-Islam was grooming himself to be the political successor to his father, at the expense of his brothers. Although they all had political ambitions, the personal records of the remaining Gaddafi brothers meant it would be impossible for them to hold office.

Saif al-Islam, who is so closely linked to his father, and who has the power to influence decision-making and reform, has failed to accomplish anything, and has met only disappointment and frustration. Imagine the state of a nation having lived under a regime that transformed a promising and wealthy country into an enigma, and a political mystery.

Saif al-Islam’s speech will seal the fate of the Libyan regime. It is one final degrading farewell to the Libyan people, who shall ultimately oust it. In his speech, Saif al-Islam’s only concessions were to change the flag and the national anthem, and for the people to launch a new Jamarihiya. We expected that he would change the official Libyan language from Arabic to Swedish, make people drive on the left hand side of the road, and replace the red stop signal with a green one!

The condescending and severe manner in which Saif al-Islam delivered his speech, on behalf of his father, was nothing more than a pathetic attempt to stress that Libya is not like Tunisia or Egypt, and that Gaddafi is not like Ben Ali or Mubarak. It was clear evidence of the deep state of denial that Gaddafi’s regime is now going through. This regime could only describe its own enraged revolutionaries as mercenaries, agents, traitors and drug addicts.

Farewell to Muammar, Saif al-Islam, and all those associated with you.