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Who is in charge of Libya?

It is well known that until Libya was bombed to smithereens, invaded and occupied by NATO forces during 2011, this question did not arise. It’s leadership was firmly in the hands of Muammar Gaddafi.

Western military action saw the country degenerate into chaos and anarchy. Africa’s strongman, known for his mavericks, was no more. Gaddafi was savagely executed as civil war erupted across Libya.

The ensuing chaos brought to an end Gaddafi’s revolutionary reign. Along with his fall, Libya fell too. Apart from the collapse of North Africa’s most successful mix of socio-religious politics, the military assault by NATO also crushed any prospect of rebuilding Libya.

Gone are the days of free health care, housing and education. Gone too is the overwhelming presence of Africa’s foremost politician who proudly bankrolled many liberation struggles, including South Africa’s freedom movements. Gaddafi was hailed as such by no less than the iconic Nelson Mandela.

Regime change has been the name of the game played by western powers. Its rules are determined solely by the same powers. Its a game they’ve mastered over time and unlike any sport which is expected to be guided by fairness, the game of overthrowing leaders is always associated with blood.

“Judge, jury and executioners” is an exclusive western club. Whether African leaders are legitimate or not, they will face a western axe, if viewed as impediments to western interest. This is the bottom line. Gaddafi realised it too late. None of his flirts with western leaders, including Tony Blair, bought him immunity.

If “flagships” can be used to describe NATO disasters, then certainly Libya stands out as one. In fact it is much worse than a disaster! Its a horror story with no foreseeable future.

Libyan shores have been turned into launching pads for desperate people seeking refuge across the Mediterranean. People, who hitherto enjoyed peaceful lives under a maverick ruler, hold up their hands in despair as they take leave of their shattered abodes.

The tragedy visited upon Libya occurred yesterday, not way back in medieval times when piracy reigned supreme. Notwithstanding the time lapse, piracy, euphemistically described as “western interest”, remains the order of the day.

Somalia suffered the same fate. “Western interest” ensures that it remains fragmented and its population scattered.

Much the same can be said about Mali. Ungovernable and unable to restore normalcy. And the litany of misfortune, death and destruction continues across the continent.

Egypt’s successful revolution ousted a western stooge after decades of iron fisted western financed policies. Free and fair elections which heralded a change to civilian rule, was not countenanced by the pirates. The result? A military coup!

Libya’s misfortune has been compounded by an intense civil strife with multiple factions competing to step into Gaddafi’s shoes.

That it is leaderless, unstable and chaotic was best exemplified during the China-Africa summit (FOCAC) held in Johannesburg recently.

Which of the competing factions had the requisite legitimacy to gain accreditation? Though the dilemma was finally “resolved” when South Africa reluctantly opted to accept the African Union’s recognition of the Tobruk faction, Libya remains in limbo.


Iqbal Jassat

Executive: Media Review Network


Iqbal Jassat