November 04, 2011

Libya: Lessons From Libya

Leadership (Abuja)

Abba Mahmood 3 November 2011
opinion

On Thursday, October 20, 2011, the erstwhile leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya, Col. Muammar Gaddaffi, was killed in his hometown of Sirte. His 42-year rule came to an end on August 23, 2011, in a violent revolt that swept his regime out of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

But troops loyal to him continued some resistance which culminated in the death of Gaddafi in the hands of those fighting him, aided by NATO airstrikes on his convoy that was on its way out of Sirte.

During his lifetime, Gaddafi was controversy personified. Even the spelling of his name was controversial as there was no universally accepted way of spelling it. Gaddafi courted controversy and if there was none he created one.

The first and only time I saw him live was in Hilton Hotel, Abuja, when he came on a visit during the Obasanjo administration.

Someone stood up to introduce him in Arabic and took more than 20 minutes reading out his titles which, I am sure, included the ridiculous king of kings.

But I pity the people of Libya in all these. There was no justification to kill a fellow human being in cold blood after capturing him alive, let alone a leader.

And regardless of whatever anyone would say, Gaddafi was a leader, shortcomings and all. As a human being, he was not perfect, like the rest of us. As a human being, Gaddafi had his share of faults, crimes, sins and mistakes.

But those who killed him had shown how satanic they are in kicking his corpse and keeping it for days without burying it. They did not humiliate him because his own story had ended; they humiliated themselves and further brought shame to Africa.

Check out the record of Gaddafi in Libya: there was no electricity bill in Libya, electricity was free for all citizens; home was considered a human right of all citizens; there was no interest on loans, banks in Libya were state-run and loans given to all citizens attracted 0% interest by law.

Education and medical services were free: Libya had one of the highest literacy rates among the developing nations and women were accorded due recognition as there was no discrimination against them.

On the other side, Gaddafi was adventurous abroad.

He was alleged to have trained a lot of rebels and guerillas across Africa and even beyond. He was suffering from some illusions of grandeur.

He actually lost grip of domestic events when he was consumed with the obsession to become the president of a united states of Africa.

In March 2010, he made the ridiculous proposal that Nigeria should be divided into a Muslim north and a Christian south as if there are no committed Christians in the north or committed Muslims in the South. Nigeria is not Sudan. The historical context and social integration process are not the same.

One major lesson to be learnt from Libya is the fact that resource-rich countries of Africa are not immune from being invaded.

If really NATO is interested in humanitarian consideration, why didn't their forces go to Somalia two decades now? Somalia is not in their radar because it has no resources.

Libya has over $200bn investment outside and over $45bn foreign reserve as well as huge oil deposits that will help to revitalize the western countries' economics; that is why it was a target.

The Libyan rebellion has also exposed clearly the weakness of the African nations and the African Union.

It is very abnormal that African nations cannot solve African problems anymore and, even if they attempt to, they are ridiculed and disregarded by the major powers who are in pursuit of their strategic interests.

Today, Africa is the main area for testing latest weapons: the UN Resolution 1973 of the UN Security Council in Libya was the quickest to be implemented -- within less than 24 hours the bombs started, and one out of the nine cases currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Afghanistan is non-African.

The war on Libya is an integral part of the broader military agenda of the western powers.

The US Department of Defence is currently training the armed forces of Chad, Mali, Niger, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Ethiopia, Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, Senegal, others.

As Glen Ford has said, most of the military of the African Union already communicate with American command-and-control equipment, requiring American advisors.

The overlapping entanglements have allowed the US military to achieve deep penetration of the armed forces of most African nations.

The de facto conquest of Libya by the US and its imperial partners heralds a contemporary vision of the "scramble for Africa" at the end of the 19th century. And, as John Pilger wrote recently, the main reason the US is invading Africa is no different from that which ignited the Victorian war.

It is China. In the world of self-serving, institutionalized paranoia that justifies what the former US commander and now CIA director implies as a state of perpetual war, China is replacing Al-Qaeda as the official American "threat".

The US has tried to establish a command on the African continent, AFRICOM, for more than a decade but has been rebuffed by governments fearful of the regional tensions this would cause.

Libya, and now Uganda, South Sudan and Congo provide the main chance. As the US National Strategy for Counter-Terrorism reveal, American plans for Africa are part of a global design in which 60,000 special forces already operate in 75 countries; it will soon be 120. As Dick Cheney pointed out in his 1990s "defence strategy" plan, the US simply wishes to rule the world.

But the greatest lesson from Libya is that every regime must know when to quit and every leader, democratic or dictatorial, benevolent or malevolent, must know that he or she cannot rule in perpetuity.

The days of professional presidents are over. At the same time Libya has shown that non-interference clauses in the AU and UN charters in the name of sovereignty are now irrelevant.

Every African or indeed world country is at the mercy of the western powers and can be invaded at will.

Libya has also shown that the legitimacy of any government is decided by the people, and once you cease to have links with your citizens, you are as good as dead meat to be displayed in stores, like they did to Gaddafi.

God save Nigeria and Happy Sallah in advance.

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