Emerging lessons from the Arab Spring following the death of Gaddafi
The removal of a third Arab ruler within a year after decades of immovable dictatorships is truly unprecedented
After months of fighting including an invasion by the West Muammar Gaddafi has finally met his fate. Whilst the recent history of the Muslims is littered with dictator rulers who massacred their own people and protected Western interests Gaddafi was truly in a league of his own when it came to brutalising his people. As many rejoice at the passing of the third ruler in the Muslim world within a year we should put the whole episode in context keeping in mind the following:
- The self immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December 2010 created a sweeping wave that has engulfed the Muslim world. It has led men, women, youth, labourers, and professionals – people of all walks of life – to throw aside the fear of their rulers and demonstrate in the streets in order to take their destiny into their own hands. The so-called Arab Spring has been led and driven by the Muslims in order to change the status quo that has so dominated the Muslim landscape.
- In order to maintain the purity of the Arab Spring the Ummah should be weary of the West. Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi served western interests in the region. These rulers were only abandoned by the West at the eleventh hour when it became clear the Muslims in those countries were about to remove them. The Cameron government was still selling Gaddafi arms, and enjoying warm relations in January 2011 when the Muslims of Benghazi were being massacred.
- If the invasion of Libya was truly humanitarian one would expect North Korea and Zimbabwe to have been on the receiving end of Western intervention. It appears the largest oil reserves on the African continent blinded the West to the atrocities of Kim Jong-il and Robert Mugabe. The hypocrisies and ironies do not end there. British Intelligence Services kidnapped and rendered to the Gaddafi regime many individuals which included Sami al Saadi who is now suing the British government for not only being complicit in his rendition and torture, but of actively organizing it as highlighted by documents unearthed in Libya. Similarly the West has been silent at the Brutal crackdown in Bahrain by the regime of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the brutal daily massacres by the Assad regime in Syria.
- Britain and America armed the Libyan regime, as well as actively cooperated in the torture of Libyan opposition figures. This was done alongside supporting it politically through opening up diplomatic channels and meetings, and working hard to open the regime up to Western commercial interests. The long-time presence of Middle Eastern despots was in no small part due to Western support, a fact that automatically negates any altruism on the part of the same governments when extolling the virtues of their military intervention. Without the weapons, training and diplomatic legitimacy and support given to regimes from Libya to Tunisia to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain it is doubtful that they would have survived up until today given the popular dissatisfaction against them that is so apparent now that the shackles of fear has been removed.
- The Ummah should be weary of the West as they would not have invested so much in removing Gaddafi without wanting to influence the post-Gaddafi set up. It should be no surprise that Secretary Hilary Clinton was in Tripoli two days before the fall of Gaddafi meeting Gaddafi defectors who have taken important positions in the transitional government. Similarly David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy were in Tripoli just a few weeks ago meeting individuals and groups to discuss the future of Libya. Western interference in Tunisia and Egypt is leading constantly to delays in elections as Islamic minded individuals and groups would gain significantly.
- Libyan history is full of Islamic opposition and is part of the fabric of the region. Thousands have been killed while in prison, either as a result of torture, or deliberate mass killing due to their Islamic inclinations and opposition to the Gaddafi regime, most famously the massacre at Abu Salim prison in 1996. Mass graves thought to be holding more than 1000 of the victims have been uncovered since the downfall of the Gaddafi regime. Members of hizb ut tahrir were murdered in 1978 aftera delegation met him regarding his edicts denying the Sunnah.
After tormenting his own people for decades Gaddafi met his fate in a sewage pipe. If there is any lesson to learn from the death of Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, and the removal of Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali is that friends can be quickly forsaken by their Western patrons when the writing is on the wall. The Arab Spring has also shown that a united people can remove their tyrant rulers.