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Gaddafi's Fallujah - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In his Green Book, where he discusses his theory of the Third World, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi says: “The natural person has freedom to express himself even if, when he is mad, he behaves irrationally to express his madness”. However, when the Libyans came out in complete sanity to demonstrate, vent their opinions regarding the regime, and demand change, as their neighboring countries to the east and west had previously done, Colonel Gaddafi did not remember his hypothesis. Nor did he respond by telling the protestors “I have heard you”, unlike the former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who told his people “I understand you”.

Gaddafi’s regime resorted to weapon of suppression, which it has used many times before with great success, and responded to its people with a warning written in Libyan blood, threatening a sea of casualties. This worn-out regime used unprecedented violence to suppress the popular protests, countering the demonstrators with machine guns, artillery fire and aerial bombardments, leaving hundreds dead and thousands wounded over the past few days. Indeed, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has threatened even more killings, when he came out yesterday and delivered a tense speech (which was poorly edited as some sections appear truncated), threatening that Libya could become another Fallujah. He called for the protestors to be killed, whom he described as rats and mercenaries. He pointed out that the Americans could not protest such state actions, because they “flattened the ground” in Fallujah when they were in pursuit of al-Zarqawi. Gaddafi also pointed out what China has done in the past to its protestors and the Russian incident when state authorities bombarded the parliament whilst MPs were staging a protest.

The Colonel believed that misguided youths were responsible for what was happening in his country, having been provided with drugs, money and alcohol, thus prompting them to attack the headquarters of the army and the police. In his speech, Gaddafi paved the away for further massacres, particularly in Benghazi, where he launched a scathing attack on the population there, saying “who are you?” Indeed, he seemed to be calling for the division of the country, telling the tribes to mobilize, and calling for each region to take their share of the oil. He said he would not leave Libya or step down, because he has no position to step down from.

Colonel Gaddafi, who often touted the theory of popular revolution and the age of the masses, has fallen on his own sword. All his theories fell with him, when he angrily condemned the Tunisians for rebelling against the regime of Ben Ali, and said that if he were Tunisian, he would have allowed President Ben Ali to stay in power for life. When the revolution moved to Egypt, he was also concerned by this and stood against it. Since that point, it seems Gaddafi has been preparing to quell any popular uprising, as evidenced today by the African mercenaries fighting against the demonstrators, with live bullets. We did not see the Libyan police confront the protestors with water cannons, but rather with a barrage of bullets from the onset, in a clear policy of intimidation. The outcome was what we heard in the testimonies of Libyans who spoke from inside the country via telephone, to satellite channels abroad. Horrific photographs were taken, to accompany appalling stories about the regime’s use of extreme violence to confront the demonstrators, and about young people being killed by sniper bullets or artillery shells, at the hands of those loyal to the regime. Even the funeral processions for the victims of such repression were not spared from sniper fire and the mercenaries, who had been recruited by the regime against the people.

The massacres that are occurring in Libya against the populace are appalling by any standards. The regime is stagnant, having suppressed the Libyans for more than 41 years, during which it used all methods to stay in power, from assassinating dissidents abroad, to eliminating rebel forces internally, and executing those who dared show their opposition to Gaddafi’s regime, or demand an end to it. The regime seems determined to cling onto power until its last breath or until the last man or woman is standing, in the words of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The appeals of the Libyans, who are being massacred by the regime, have been met with a semi-official silence throughout the Arab world, and a number of hesitant or inconsistent Western stances, particularly from Washington. There is a flaw in the Arab system, where our governments are standing by idly, whilst people are being slaughtered in this barbaric fashion. It is worth noting that such scenes will only incense people further, and increase feelings of anger lurking below the surface, just as the recent events have exposed the international community and its double standards. The West has lectured us for years about spreading democracy in the Arab world, and has used this as a justification for its foreign interventions. Yet when a spark ignites genuine revolutions calling for change, with young voices demanding freedom and democracy, Western attitudes seem hesitant and confused. They do not know whether to support these youth revolutions and popular uprisings.

There is another theme that many have observed during these events, namely that each regime which has encountered a popular uprising has opted to repeat the same broken record, as if all those in power read from the same book. The Libyan regime resorted to cutting off the internet and mobile phone services, and attacked satellite channels. It claimed that a foreign network had been trained to strike at Libya’s stability. This is what we heard during the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, as if their own people were mere puppets, who would never rise up against their deplorable living conditions, unless prompted to do so by a movement with a foreign agenda. Ironically, the Libyan regime said these words whilst it sought the assistance of African mercenaries, publishing advertisements for more recruits, in order to suppress its people. This is a tactic used by bullies to intimidate people, and it is happening again in a more aggressive fashion, after what we saw in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.

The repression in Libya is beyond anything we’ve seen so far in the other countries affected by this hurricane. Those who know the situation in Libya, and its composition, are warning of a genuine bloodbath, before the regime finally accedes to the storm, in one way or another, sooner or later. The regime will not last, even though Gaddafi has ruled for 41 years. The repression will not guarantee the survival of the regime, even though it has succeeded for some time in silencing the people.

Osman Mirghani

Osman Mirghani

Osman Mirghani is Asharq Al-Awsat's former deputy editor and senior editor-at-large.

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