Since the death of Ghaddafi three years ago, Libya has witnessed things other nations took centuries to see within a short space of time.
It appears Ghaddafi’s assertion that Libya will be ungovernable without/after him (in his failed bid to remain in power, in the heady days of the Libyan arm of the ARAB SPRING) has come to pass afterall.
Ghaddafi had ruled Libya with an iron grip for decades, becoming at some point Africa’s longest ruler. To his credit, Libya’s social security net was one even Western nations could only watch from a distance in envy, considering that the country under sanctions and blockade by Western nations could still afford all of that despite the wastage and corruption at the top by the ruling family and their cronies. Libya owed no nation or International Finance Corporations, IFC’s especially after his spat with leaders of the so called “FREE” and Western world who considered his country a “State Sponsor Of Terrorism”, enough for former American President Ronald Reagan to authorize the bombing of several military targets in Tripoli and Benghazi, in which several people were killed including Ghaddafi’s daughter in 1986.
While the West turned its back on Libya, it turned to Russia and most recently to China which benefited from Libya’s huge crude oil deposits, which Ghaddafi used to his advantage in Africa and the Arab world to push his agenda, which sometimes included the destabilization of some African states, amongst other activities of a religious nature.
Then there was the LOCKERBIE BOMBING in 1988, involving PAN AM FLIGHT 103 which killed all the passengers and crew on board, linked to Ghaddafi after arrest warrants were issued for two Libyan nationals, of which one Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi was found guilty, sentenced to jail in Scotland but later released on health grounds, only to die in Libya shortly after the revolution that toppled Ghaddafi. Al Megrahi was turned over to the Scots by Ghaddafi because he’d changed his ways in the late 1990’s (even agreeing to halt the development of Weapons Of Mass Destruction) and had become the new bride of the western powers, sponsoring elections of some as Prime Ministers, receiving guests of western leaders in Libya, and even visiting the West where he set up his Bedouin tent whenever he visited- Italy, and even the United Nations in New York.
From sponsor and exporter of international terrorism, to one who was in the forefront of the American’s “WAR AGAINST TERROR”, Ghaddafi offered the West his space for the rendition of terror suspects whom they couldn’t extort information from via torture as it is outlawed in their democracies, his son and possible heir-apparent to the Libyan “THRONE”, Saif Al Islam Ghaddafi, even had a program that attempted to deradicalize suspected Al-Qaeda members either within Libya or had returned from Afghanistan (though not much is known about what happened to those who refused to join the programme after been arrested on charges of terrorism, no matter how flimsy) and other countries where the terrorist group had powerful presence and influence.
But once “THE PEOPLE” stood up to him, initially to demand for change, to which he responded harshly, the West remembered his former “Síns” and stood with the people to topple him, simply looking the other way when they snuffed the life out of him after he was retrieved from a drainage channel where he’d gone to hide after the convoy with which he was making a getaway out of the country via the desert was halted by airstrikes courtesy of western powers which had intervened by issuing and enforcing a NO-FLY zone over Libya, destroying much of Libya’s military and airforce’ aerial capability, which Ghaddafi had employed in the heady days of street protests, that later gave rise to full blown revolution, to decimate the protesters in their numbers.
After Ghaddafi’s death, the interim government that was immediately set up, was served the bill for that adventure, and for the first time in as many years, Libya became indebted to the western powers but Libyans didn’t mind at all (save probably for Ghaddafi loyalists mainly from his home region), they now had the opportunity for self determination. Jails were broken into and even criminals thought of themselves as political prisoners and “Prisoners of Conscience”, Ghaddafi’s palaces all over Libya were broken into, looted and razed to the ground, while wild celebrations continued for days on end especially in Benghazi, the base of opposition to the Ghaddafi rule, and which has suffered mostly from his brutality as well as those of his sons.
Many saw light at the end of the tunnel with the swearing-in of the interim government with promise of a better life for Libyans. The western powers as well as the oil-rich Arab states also promised backing, financially and otherwise to prop up the government, everyone was glad to be rid of Ghaddafi. They would be spared his long windy addresses at the United Nations as well as in the meetings of the Arab League and the African Union, AU (which he helped form from the doldrums of the former Organization of African Unity, OAU). It was largely quiet in Africa, especially sub-saharan Africa where Ghaddafi had largely funded many of the governments in a bid to actualize his dream of a United Africa of which he hoped to preside over, having gotten the nod of traditional rulers (who have no political powers or influence) of many of the countries to support his bid, which eventually failed. Only Robert Mugabe raised his voice at the illegality of his “DETHRONEMENT” and subsequent killing, though it could also be said that in so doing he sought to protect his own position.
There was so much hope for Libya especially after it appeared that the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt was already faltering, unfortunately no one was prepared, nor could’ve imagined the catastrophe that followed. The immediate impact of Ghaddafi’s demise was felt in neighbouring African countries as most of the weapons used to oust him found their way there. Nations like Niger and Mali had Tuaregs from their country who not only lived in Libya, but shored up Ghaddafi in the dying days of his government, return, heavily armed to strengthen the arm of their home-based insurgents in their activities as they ran rampant in the countries affected, even indirectly orchestrating the coup in Mali. The proliferation of weapons also impacted in the activities of the Boko Haram in Nigeria as it notched up to levels making toys of the ammunition at the disposal of the regular Nigerian army, who now fled in the face of the heavily armed insurgents.
Back to Libya, the peace and hope for a democratic society was shortlived as many of the groups which helped topple Ghaddafi refused to hand in their weapons preferring rather to form themselves into militias, controlling bits and parts of Libya with loyalties to extra governmental individuals, religious or political. These groups even turned out to be stronger than the NEW police force and military “in formation” to replace the oppressive outfit that ran things under Ghaddafi. Soon, little spats of violence in remote parts of Libya, degenerated into heavy gunfights and battles in major cities, even in the capital Tripoli.
The world was awakened to the scale of the problem in 2012, when on the anniversary of the 9/11, 2001 Terror Attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, the American Embassy in Benghazi was attacked by protesters thought to be protesting the depiction of Islam’s prophet in a movie titled “THE INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS” (like many Muslims the world over even when the majority hadn’t seen the movie) by a relatively unknown producer and crew, that went viral on YouTube. The killing of the American ambassador and other staffers suggested to the discerning mind that there was more to the attack than the mere reason of expression of anger at an anti-Islamic movie that went viral on YouTube, enough to almost cost American President Obama his reelection bid.
Since then, Libya has spiralled into an uncontrollable state of anarchy never before witnessed in the history of the country. Prime ministers, even defence ministers of the interim government were kidnapped at will by the contending militias opposed to the weak central government. Pro-democracy activists, many of whom returned from comfortable exile in the West to help their country, found themselves targets of islamist militia, as well as armed groups loyal to the deposed regime. Currently, no one knows who is in charge in Libya, though everyone knows who isn’t, and that referring to the central government despite the support from the West as well as military intervention via airstrikes against bases and infrastructure housing the various militia and armed groups by neighbouring countries like Egypt (which fear the rise of an Islamic state next door, after they successfully removed theirs which came to power by democratic means unconstitutionally) and some states in the Gulf region.
Libya is now at a crossroads with the contending powers refusing to sheathe their swords, each thinking to obtain power only by force of arms with no space for accommodation and compromise that’ll allow for the much needed peace, even the surprise visit by the United Nation’s Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon a few days ago to the fragile state to foster a UN-sponsored dialogue did little to change the situation of things, as the battering of all sides by their respective military armada continued relentlessly almost as Mr. Ban left the country.
I sincerely hope that Libya will find peace, though Ghaddafi didn’t need to be treated the way he was treated, despite his wrongful use of power when he held sway, it is important for all the parties involved in this conflict, as well as all Libyans to do their utmost in ensuring that his predictions for Libya after him doesn’t fully come to pass, besides the negatives that we have already witnessed.