It’s hard enough having to battle through every emotion under the sun when your watching your own country and people being ruthlessly crushed under the brutal tyranny of a deranged monster; anger, sadness, helplessness, fear, heartache…hope, strength, fortitude, unity (you get the picture, I could go on). But it makes it that much harder when the bloodiest revolution of our generation is faced with as much scrutiny and criticism as this one. So in order to dispel the myths and accusations that have been flying around left, right and centre, almost as carelessly as the bullets of the power-hungry madman himself, I felt compelled to write this piece and set a few things straight. Here are several of the rumours or claims that have come to my attention:
1. Libya’s ‘Rebels’ are connected to Al-Qaeda, and Islamic extremists could take over a new government.
Over the past few weeks there have been numerous ambiguous statements linking Libya to Al-Qaeda, without clarifying or providing appropriate context to such remarks. In many instances, these claims have been distorted or exaggerated; at times they have simply been false, with little to no evidence to back them up. Although Libya is in some ways a traditional society, it is a society mainly of moderate Muslims where Al-Qaeda remains deeply unpopular among its people, many of whom have been keen to stress that this uprising is in no way connected to the terrorist organisation. The Libyan Revolution is a nationalist, democratic movement, two characteristics that make it fatally incompatible with Al-Qaeda’s delusional goal of resurrecting a pan-Islamic caliphate; the Libyan people have no intention of allowing their movement to be hijacked by Al-Qaeda or for that matter allowing them to take over a new government that poses a threat to the international community. Indeed, the Libyan Transitional National Council has just released a statement that refutes allegations aimed at associating Al-Qaeda with the revolutionists in Libya and affirming its commitment to combating terrorism and implementing Security Council resolutions on counterterrorism.
With the tendency to create alarmist ripple effects, statements of this type are not only troubling, but also difficult to reverse with regards to the perceptions that they create. What’s more, is that they do a great disservice to the Libyan people and their cause by effectively and unfairly lumping them together and labelling them as ‘terrorists’ in the public consciousness. They also do a disservice to those who seek a better understanding of Libya and its people. Lets not forget that Gaddafi himself has repeatedly made these absurd accusations, along with his ridiculous claims about ‘hallucinogenic’ drug use, merely in order to belittle the cause for freedom and democracy and cover up his inhumane crimes against his own people. Lets be sensible here and not aid him in his disgraceful tactics.
2. The situation in Libya is a civil war, and the lack of political institutions means it could descend into years of a bloody civil war.
Besides raising the spectre that Islamic extremists are gaining a foothold in Libya, it’s quite remarkable to hear pundits speak about instability arising from “tribal divisions” and the lack of unity (more recently aimed towards a divide between the West and East of the country). I can tell you, Libyans throughout the country and the world have been scratching their heads in confusion at these concerns, and trying to assure the international community that they are united and committed to democratic change. The Libyan national identity has always been in reality quite strong, so it is no surprise that the current struggle, nurtured by a deep sense of collective suffering over the past 42 years, has only intensified this sense of national unity, at least among the overwhelming majority of citizens who make up Gaddafi‘s opposition. In fact, many demonstrations are now revolving around the message that Libya is One, one of the slogans being; “We are one till the end, this message we clearly send!”.
As for the Libyan fight for democracy being labelled as a civil war, a term that was initially spread by Gaddafi for obvious (delusional) reasons, I am not alone in saying that it is an inaccurate and misleading concept, with Libyan freedom fighters themselves insisting adamantly against the claim. When violent protests within nations succeed, they become revolutions; when they fail, they are known as civil wars. Whilst the ongoing struggle has stretched far beyond the successful revolutions of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, it has by no means reached an end, and the Libyan people remain hopeful (in fact certain) that this uprising and fight for freedom will succeed and the country will be free from the satanic dictatorship that has long out-lived its welcome.
3) Unrest in Libya was planned by the CIA months, even years in advance, giving them a door to imperialist intervention under the pretence of humanitarian assistance.
Many observers have cast doubt over the true intentions of the international community in the name of humanitarian assistance, arguing that the aim is in fact a foreign intervention to gain control of the region and its oil resources, and to an extent I can understand where they may be coming from. Lets not be naïve, some of the countries involved in the No Fly Zone were more than happy to come to our ‘rescue’ as they knew that Libya would reward anyone who came to their aid with rich oil and infrastructure contracts. This is probably part of the reason why they were so quick to condemn and help oust Gaddafi whilst allowing bloodshed to continue in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and other parts of middle east. However, does this mean that the US intends on engaging in regime change and full-scale occupation in Libya? Of course not. This is purely speculation and conspiracy, and rest assured the Libyan people would never stand for such a thing. After all, we did not sacrifice thousands of lives for freedom from Gaddafi’s reign in order to be further oppressed by a government that has no place in the region, let alone in Libya.
With regards to advanced planning of ‘chaos’ in Libya by the CIA and British intelligence, again this is purely a conspiracy theory, with Gaddafi being one of those quick to shift the blame onto them (surprise surprise). Whilst CIA agents have indeed been sent into Libya to gather intelligence that will help direct NATO air strikes and to help train inexperienced rebel fighters, there is absolutely no proof to confirm prior involvement. In fact, it is clear that the West, particularly USA, was surprised by the revolution that was sparked in Tunisia and even more taken aback by the enormous effect that this has had on Libya. No one saw this coming.
As I have mentioned, most of these claims were speculated by none other than Gaddafi and his corrupt regime. It is everyone’s fault but his of course (the population on drugs, Al-Qaeda, the CIA..). If only he’d make up his mind and not come up with a new theory every other day, maybe then we can take him a little more seriously. On second thoughts, who am I kidding? No one in their right minds will ever be capable of taking this deluded man seriously.
Other claims were made by international critics who perhaps know very little about Libyan society and underestimate their strong sense of national identity and unity. Either way, whilst such concerns have at times not gone unjustified, they have almost certainly been overblown.
Libyans are reasonably savvy people who are well acquainted with history – they are fully aware of the considerable challenges confronting them, and quite attuned to the fact that the world is watching carefully and appraising their actions. So make no mistake; Libyans are not naïve about their future and the formidable task of state-building that lies ahead of them. But while both Libyans and the international community should remain prudent and realistic about the obstacles involved, the focus must not be on the incitement of fears that are largely baseless and often have their origins within the Gaddafi regime. Nor should we overlook the thus far achievements of the Libyans in Benghazi and other liberated cities. So yes, there is much work to be done and the challenges are enormous and complex, first and foremost among them is finding a way out of the current stalemate. But the divisiveness, extremism and conspiracies that the Gaddafi clan has been claiming are myths that are discouraging and at times hurtful to the Libyan people. And instead of western observers in turn parroting these claims, why not give more credit where it is due? Libya needs as much support and encouragement from the international community as possible in these difficult times, and by the hand and will of God, we will be victorious.
Long live a free and peaceful Libya.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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