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The International Writers Magazine: Libya

A Libyan tragic-comedy
Marwan Asmar
As we watch the Libyan drama unfold, there is the sense of a Kamikaze theatrical being played out. The daily killings and bludgeoning of civilians is a travesty of justice in a one man's land who should have been certified to a lunatic asylum long time ago.


Instead, we, Arabs, western countries, leftists, nationalists, leaders have longed sought to play up to his theatrics in the face of politics, international relations, Cold War rivalry, and as a man who stood up to the West. But when he bedded Western countries, Italy, France, Britain and the United States included, we didn't say anything either, it was business as usual.  For them he was tamed.

It was the change of the times.  No more an eastern bogeyman, this was the age of new multi-polarity and multilateralism.  We came to live with him as a sort of eccentric addition to the rest of the Arab leaders, who dominated the plains of the region as dinosaurs to a people who reveled in apathy, and mental debauchery to the exigencies of consumerism and hedonism. 

What is being played out in Libya is a tragic-comedy characterized by murder, chaos, trials and tribulations, an anger sweeping, seething and seeping the country that probably had enough of dictatorships, one-man rule, one family rule under the guise of false statehood, and false modernity.

The people from left to right have spoken, they want a new face, different set of faces in the name of good government, but this is falling on deaf ears. Brother/Leader Colonel Moammar Al Gaddafi stands in defiance, refusing to accept that he is no longer wanted, that there is yearning for ideological, political, democratic, institutional change washing away by what is seen as tiring, tedious, dubious 'Green Book' story of ranting wisdoms.

Gaddafi, a man of military flamboyance, undetected diction, and flowing cut made-to-measure robes by top designers in Europe, as well as his sons, and entourage are today under a blurred vision since 17 February, refusing to accept that an uprising is now in the making and will surely topple him to smithereens.

As if they have been hit on their heads and are in a stupor, they are yet to wake up, refusing to accept that "Gaddafiland" is slowly slipping away in the scorching desert mist, with its identity regained as "Libya", a country with one foot in the Arab world and another in Africa.

The new is slowly replacing the old space that covered the original country by the erstwhile military officer who took over in 1969 and proceeded with his reign of roughshod power, conveniently establishing himself for life.

This is why he says he can't step down as he has no official title, he is not a president, nor a monarch, but merely a "leader" of the Libyan revolution with enormous powers that are dissipating, as he slowly retreats back to his barracks in Tripoli, while cities, towns and even villages fall in the hands of opponents.  Despite the fact they are being bombed from the air by pro-Gadaffi fighter jets and are set upon by his unruly African mercenaries.

Libya's second largest city Bengazi, and the third largest city Mussarata is in the hands of the oppositions, nearly the whole eastern side of the country has fallen in the hands of the opposition who are slowly beginning to bite into the western side of Libya, and Tripoli its capital. They are half-way to victory, with soldiers, military officers, diplomats joining the protestors from the beginning, believing the end is near, an era coming to an end. Yet Gaddafi continues to stand proud, almost oblivious to what is happening on the ground, sticking to a delusionary power .

He simply says "locals and Arab people love me, and if I didn't know that, I would commit suicide", adding nobody in his right mind leaves his country and literally laughs at the suggestion that he might step down.  Gaddafi claims he is of the people, and for the people. He says he will not go, he is not going anywhere despite the "politicking" behind the scene led by his son Sief Aldeen Al Islam that may soon see the end of his rule.  On the front row, in public, on television and who ever cares to listen, he is kicking and shouting, screaming, bloated words and phrases, not least of all to the European leaders, which he says are traitors for abandoning the master who changed policies to please them in. 

On television, he is shown as a wild figure, a beast in waiting, a shadow of the same picture he painted of himself through the past lingering, emotional decades when he stood as the darling of revolutionaries.

Whether it is theatrics, a final game for his supporters, or what is left of them, and of his army, which is leaking like a sieve with soldiers and officers changing sides, the brother leader has not lost his flair, castigating those against him, Islamists, who have no business to be against this leader, and the "rats" and "vermin's" who are being heralded and egged on by outside powers and forces.

It's a very definite tragic-cum-comedy, banal in its perspectives, a waste in its thoughts and years, a drain of oil resources, and of money that spread anywhere but Libya itself.

Protestors and demonstrators are rising up everywhere around the country, yet here is a man making a series of last ditch efforts to rally those that arguably stand in support of his policies at "Green Square", telling everyone to "enjoy themselves", "dance" and "be happy", as if everything is as alright as it should be.

In the first 10 days of the uprising, more than 1500 people are estimated to have been killed with thousands more injured. It is being suggested that once those injured go into hospitals they never come back.  The security forces, in the form of popular committees make sure they never come out.

 Sief Aldeen Al Islam, who has appointed himself as "spokesman" something which has angered the opposition both inside and outside the country, since they argue this proves there is no real government in Libya, speaks like his father with a sense of apparition and not like someone whose pinnacle is about to fall down.
Openly and forcefully, the man with a Phd in his pocket on civil society and international governance awarded not-so-recently by the prestigious London School of Economics, and no doubt now not-so-prestigious, is coming on television telling everyone that everything is ok and three quarters of the country is safe and well, and the people are not complaining. He maintains it is the "terrorists" and the "trouble-makers" and the Islamists who belong to Al Qaeda, making the mayhem. It is they who got to be stopped, it is they who are threatening stability of the country and which could lead to civil war.

But if anything that may lead to civil war, if indeed that is allowed to happen, it is Gaddafi who has threatened to "open up the arsenals" to the tribes, the lynch pin of the country.  But even the tribes, or major sections of them no longer support the colonel and it seems it is he would have to fight it out on his own.  He is on record for saying he will die on Libyan soil and may just have a go at setting the oil fields on fire as a last resort!
© Marwan Asmar March 3rd 2011

Enemy of the People
Marwan Asmar
Now we have bloodshed and violence against Libyan civilians by their own leader, Mommar Al Qaddafi, who is going after his people in a desperate bid to stay in power

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