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27.03.2011 Feature Article

Gaddafi Should Step Down Gently to Allow Political Reforms in Libya

Gaddafi Should Step Down Gently to Allow Political Reforms in Libya
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I disagree with people who argue that the international community should have let the Libyans deal with Muamar Gaddafi in their own time, their own way because this argument means that the atrocities committed by him didn't amount him to a global criminal. If anything,we should not support any despots that shoot protesters in the streets if we are to change the face of the world for better. The 'big boys' should also not be sending military aid anymore to such leaders who crack down on the changers or demonstrators. The 'small boys' should also be encouraged to spend more on developmental projects instead of the military hardware, afterall, whatever they buy can easily be destroyed by the 'big boys' in case of a war, for less than 4 days as we have seen in Libya.

The war in Libya is not over yet, and if the Libyans can eventually get rid of Gaddafi themselves without excessive bloodshed that would be the best outcome. Actually I do have some sympathy with that argument(Libyans getting rid of Gadafi themselves) but bear in mind that tyrants like making it difficult for outsiders to build a clear picture of what is happening inside their countries. That way some may say things like "maybe those inside [insert tyranny here] are making it up" and use that as an excuse for inaction. Also let us bear in mind that there is more at stake here than just Libya. If Gaddafi's brutal methods for crushing the revolt succeeded where the comparatively less brutal approach failed in Tunisia and Egypt it might have given other despots in Africa and Arab world the wrong idea.

Libya and Qaddafi have been the finest example of terrorism as long as I can remember. Gaddafi used to send mercenaries in the 1980s to kill his opponents abroad. Lots of people were lost in the Scotland plane. Some people may have the goldfish-like memory that would allow them to forget Libya and Qaddafi's terrorist history, but hopefully most good people do not. US's Reagan bombed Colonel Gaddafi some years ago, and in response Colonel Gaddafi blew up a 747 and killed hundreds of civilians. Colonel Gaddafi has never been punished in any way for those murders.

There is a paradoxical argument that the Americans and British are in Libya because of oil, which looks so true, but at the same time I think there is a humanitarian side to this story. The people of Libya need the 'big boys' to help them become free. Everybody wants to feel free in their home countries. Yes, Gaddafi has done a lot of good things economically for the Libyans but at the same time he has chained them politically. There is no political freedom in Libya and I think this is the reason why they are fighting him. I equate this situation to a woman married to a billionaire but when she is not free in her house. In most cases, such a woman tend to be miserable and can easily cheat on her husband with a poor man. So, going to war with Libya involves toppling yet another of the dictator dominoes who was actively butchering his own people!

I was worried when the international community delayed coming out with an agreement on no-fly zone. It seemed as though all the EU leadership bodies had regressed into becoming The League of Nations all over again: Ineffectual, bumbling, mumbling, endless discussions of definitions and little or no action on anything at all, more like our African Union (AU). Libya was burning, the people crying out for help, but AU was doing nothing at all. They have only come put recently mainly to criticise the actions of the 'big boys' through press statements because that is what they are good at.

Yes, the 'big boys' should stop their double standards when it comes to solving conflicts in Africa and Middle East. For instance, Hussein the late king of Jordan killed about 20,000 Palestinians (according to Yasser Arafat) in the Black September massacre of 1970 but The Western "liberals" did or said nothing in condemnation. Hafez Hassad of Syria in 1982 massacred 30 to 40 thousand of his own people in the city of Hama but again the ''corrupt'' UN was silent. In September 2009, President Museveni ordered the killing of 33 demonstrators but nothing was done by the 'big boys'. Then there were the horrendous African massacres like Rwanda and Darfur with nothing being done by the sententious UN and EU.

Personally, I can only excuse the Americans on non-interference in only one country, which is Saudi Arabia. As a Muslim, I believe that an overthrow of the Saudi government by the US or UN would be greeted with 'issues' due to the two holiest cities being in Saudi Arabia, one of which non-Muslims are not even allowed to enter. But I don't feel the same about Libya despite what Gaddafi has done for Muslims in Africa. I confess that I don't want Gaddafi to die like Saddam Hussein because he is a fellow Muslim and he has done a lot for Africans but he should step down gently and set Libyans free. 42 years in power is such a long time without political freedom.

It's easy for some people to take a hollistic view and blame the USA, France and Britain but we don't know what would have happened had they adopted a no-interference policy. The most important thing today is to prevent them to intervene with some lame excuse in future conflicts, like in Iraq, to cover-up stealing of oil. At least, this time they went through proper channels before they intervened in Libya and this was very remarkable. We don't want UN to be used by them in the same way Russia used to in the 1960s.In 1969 socialist Russia was pursuing a policy of stirring up problems all over the world, using the united nations as a surrogate.

The latest reports coming from Libya sound more hopeful but the question we should ask ourselves is: what happens when the bombing ends and Gaddafi is or isn't still in power?

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
United Kindom
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
”We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.” (Hillary Clinton, 1993)

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba, © 2011

The author has 199 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AbbeyKibirigeSemuwemba

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