Thursday, 20 October 2011

Reflections on the Death of a Libyan Tyrant

So, there we have it - he's dead.

In all fairness, those photos were of nobody else other than the former tyrannical leader of the Libyan nation.

In the end, it came so suddenly. But then, that's how these situations usually climax. It certainly makes sense the long final battle for Sirte. Many had considered that Gaddafi's presence may have slipped away to foreign soil as his grip on power collapsed after the fall of Tripoli on 22nd/23rd August. But clearly whilst many of the old regime did escape with their lives, Gaddafi went back to his birthplace for a final battle. It makes sense of course because this was where his support was greatest. Indeed, the sudden collapse of Tripoli was almost unsettlingly brisk. It would turn out that it would be Sirte and not Tripoli that would put up the greatest resistance.

A month later and with the final surrender of Sirte all but confirmed, this sudden development has brought this civil war the gruesome sights that millions of Libyans had fought for since hostilities begun on February 15th.

Caught Dead or Alive?
Should he have been caught alive to be put on trial in the Hague? Ideally, yes. Does his death make him a martyr for his remaining supporters? It is a concern. But having said that, his death will bring a sense that the civil war has now, after 8 months, come to an end.

Source: BBC News Website
It is easy for us here in the west, sitting on our comfy sofas and watching these incredible scenes unravel live on the 24-hour news cycle to pontificate about what should have been done. The truth of the matter is that Gaddafi will have been found by angry Libyans who will have wanted revenge for his actions that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Libyans over not just the past 8 months, but also, over the past 42 years.

With emotions running so high, this really has to be expected and in its own way, respected - even if this is not the way we may have gone about things in the west.

Well done to the UN and to NATO
I am not one that supports international action for the sake of it. I supported Afghanistan. I opposed Iraq. For me, the support of the UN is pivotal in whether foreign intervention is legal or not.

As I blogged about at the time back in March, the UN did the right thing to authorise support for the then Libyan rebels. With the support of France and the UK, NATO were right to carry out its targetted bombings of Gaddafi's defensive positions. This is not a position that I take lightly but the real-politik of the situation sometimes requires such actions. I am pleased that the UK played its part in this necessary venture but today's events will hopefully bring that involvement to a close.

An Uncertain Future
So what next? The NTC will soon move to Tripoli and a full transition to democratic elections will begin in earnest.

But there may be some time before those elections take place and quite frankly, there's no hurry. I hope that the Libyan population give its new transitionary government the time to put a broken, war-torn nation back together. More important right now for Libyans is not the ballot box but clean flowing water, electricity and a home in which to live. There is now a need to build a civic society from nothing that will stand as a basis for a future democratic state.

This will all take time. A long time. It will only work if the various factions and tribes in Libyan society pull together and work towards a common goal. If they don't, Libya's future may still be a bleak one.

The lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan was that elections for elections sake, mean nothing. George W. Bush's fanaticism about this being the hold grail of foreign intervention was horribly misplaced. I hope that Libya does not make the same mistake. I don't think they will. Because more than anything, this has been an uprising from within. NATO air strikes were critical of course, but that support would never have been given if there wasn't a clear sense that Libyans were themselves rising against their tyranical dictator and needed the extra support.

This has been a Libyan victory and they now need to ensure that the future is a Libyan one. Get the infrastructure right, improve the living standards of its residents and a transition to a democratic future is possible.

It is a historic day in Libya. But it is one that reminds us why he was so sought after in the first place.

For the family of Yvonne Fletcher and for the 270 families effected by that disaster on December 21st 1988 and also for those killed by the IRA with the use of Gaddafi-sold semtex, it is a day possibly, to reflect on how this man brought such horror to their world.

It's time to move on but for many, moving on is not so easy because of the actions of Muammar Gaddafi.

This is the end of the beginning as the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon stated in his response to the news. The work for a fair, free and open future in Libya has only just begun.

1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly welcome his death and it must serve as a clear warning to other despotic tyrants that the same fate could happen to you. Top of my list is Assad of Syria closely followed by Ahmadinejad of Iran. Iran poses an increasing threat to the world and not just to the Middle East or his own people that he is oppressing.

    I am sure that with the knowledge that Gaddafi is now dead, any opposition from the old regime will now die away and Libya can now concentrate on rebuilding itself.

    One thing omitted from your blog could have said that not ONE UK or French member of the armed forces, died in enforcing the UN resolution. We should be thankful for that and the fact that our forces were not there on the ground, but helping the Libyan NTC forces to remove Gaddafi.

    I cannot remember Libya before Gaddafi took over, but Libya's future as a democracy must be surely welcomed and Gaddafi is now rotting in hell. Assuming there is such a place.