‘A mercurial and eccentric figure who suffers from severe phobia, enjoys flamenco dancing and horse racing, acts on whims and irritates friends and enemies alike…has an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, and prefers not to fly over water’. That is how the 1969 Libyan Revolution leader M Qaddafi, now under serious threat of regimes survival, is described by US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
Watching him hurling threats, spewing filth, mouthing abuses, launching diatribe, provoking internecine fights, fanning jingoism and showering accolades unto himself on his country’s official television on 22 February, the “eccentric” Qadhafi truly fitted the stereotype of a pre-Islamic era Bedoin tribe leader. Add two things more. His flipping through the pages of his “divine” Green Book and the “logo” Qadhafi’s raised arm and in the clinched fist American F-16 getting crashed, rather crushed, that was displayed frequently when the despot was delivering the speech not from the studio but from a glass cabin behind which lay the damaged military barracks. (The barracks and the Qadhafi’s presidential house were attacked by the American Air Force in1986. Fifteen month old girl adopted by Qadafi and forty other People were killed in the attack. US alleged Libya ‘supports terrorism’; the same mudding water accusation)
The Libyan leader was at his best. A crack pot clown, a shameless bafoon. An arrogant dictator. Having neurotic fits.
While listening his rubbish and observing his gestures and body language I was seething in pain at the impact his speech would have had on the advanced nations, particularly the West and the image of Muslims getting cultivated. I cried, where has that milat melted up the dark-day Europe would hunker down to pick up gems of wisdom, seek advice on etiquettes and manners, besides learning physics, medicine, astronomy, algebra, maths, biology, alchemy and what not. Those who have been divinely ordained to govern through deliberations, wa amroohum shoora binahom and strictly forbidden from attributes from raising tyrannical regimes and directed to become epitome of attributes have burdened the planet with the notoriously corrupt, profligate, hedonist, despotic bunch of monarchs, military dictators, dynastic Nawabs, feudal lords and brutal despots. I have perhaps digressed from the topic, this painful story of the kind demands a separate treatment. At the moment let us have our gaze spot-fixed at the megalomaniac dictator of Libya.
“I am Muammar Qadaffi” and then in an outpouring of rage he would pronounce the severe punishment to the people which, save his Qadaffa tribe and a clutch of loyalist, have risen in revolt against the dictator. Each time referring to his Green Book and reciting some particular clause. Condemning the people as cockroaches, “mice”, “drug addicts”. Now in his witches brew one more element he has added Al-Qaida. Knowing world’s (read West’s ) upping its ante as and when the word drops from somewhere. But nothing like these are going to help him. The world is wiser than him. The clownish posture all along evoking ridicule, that would have put even Don Quixote to shame.
What is this Green Book that he has venerated to the status of a ‘sacred’ constitution and his four decade long regime is deriving the ‘guidance’ and ‘strength’ from. Was it ever referred to people and their consent sought through a referendum?
With whom it was discussed? When any amendment, additions, alternations were made? In fact, Qadafi’s Green Book is akin to Din-e-Ilahi (divine code of conduct) that the Mughal Emperor Akbar had formulated and in the light of which he was running his regime. As was Akbar’s din-e-ilahi agnostic to Islamic beliefs and core fundamental principles, so is Qadaffi’s Green Book which he claims is a ‘philosophical guide to chart Libya’s future’. It is a mix of Arab nationalism and his personal likes and dislikes. As is the case of regimented societies that the regimes want to mould the people into, the Khutba-e-Nimaz-e-Jumma (Friday sermons) had to be vetted by the security agencies in Libya.
Dozens of young unmarried girls formed the inner ring of his security guards. He has banned Islamic parties. He ruthlessly put in practice his offensive doctrine of physical liquidation which he adapted against his opponents abroad. Pro-democratic and Islamic voices were lethally targeted by regime’s agents even in Western Europe. In 1996 the regime killed 1000 inmates in Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison. That shows his sensitivity towards Islamic injunctions which he claimed his regimes were following.
It is he, his family and his Qadaai tribe that is ruling the country. The regime is protected by special battalions like the one commanded by his son Khamis. The Khamis brigade has, in the initial days of revolt, killed hundreds of people in Ben-Ghazi.
Qadaffi has also cultivated a crop of mercenaries drawn from various parts of Africa to suppress the people. Ever since Qadafi ceased power and overthrew the monarchy of Shah Idres in 1969, he deliberately undermined the power of conventional army. Despite Libya’s status as a leading oil exporter, majority of people live on an income of less than two dollars a day. Compare this with abject impoverishment Qadaffi’s subjects are reeling under with the fortunes his family and clan have accumulated.
Just one example. As reported by Guardian (London), ‘while studying for his Ph. D , Seif al-Islam, Qadafi’s second eldest son, enjoyed a life of considerable luxuries in one of London’s wealthiest and most prestigious suburbs. In august 2009 Qadaffi brought his son a Pound 10 million house in north London. Inside the neo-Georgian 8-bedroom mansion, Seif could relax in his own swimming pool, sauna room, whirling pool bath and suede-lined cinema room’. Howsoever, the dictators might sport straps of bravery, as in this case Qadafdfi’s clinched fist logo depicts, they put the tail of cowardice in their legs when the occasion demanded to stand up and be counted. See the ignominious way the Libyan “iron man” had to kneel down to American diktats when he agreed, in 2002, to ship some 27, 500 kg of nuclear and missile components to the Americans. The American transport carried the components that included stock to enrich Uranium, centrifuge parts and guidance sets for long range missiles. The irony is that Americans converted the uranium components into fuel for nuclear reactors, whereas the centrifuges costing billions of dollars though ended up in the USA followed by little compensation, as was promised. ‘The haul’, New York Times says, ‘was so large that the president G W Bush, with photographers in tow flew to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennesse to celebrate a rare victory against nuclear proliferation’. Bush praised (why not!) saying Qadaffi’s action (rather capitulation), ‘made our country and our world safer’.
Anyway while the Tunisian’s Zine el Abidine bin Ali fled to Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s Husni Mubbarak ultimately succumbed to peoples’ power, the response by Qadaffi has been different. He has responded with repression using fighter jets and gun ships to attack protestors. Of late he has rolled in tanks also. But now as the opposition, that has transformed into an armed revolutionary movement, in the face of excessive unaccountable state violence, is closing in on the capital Tripoli, and the world pressure is mounting, the nemesis is fast approaching at the door steps of the ‘strong’ man.
Moral: as the world wakes up to the era of social networking and the young generation determined to throw the yoke of slavery off their necks, oppressive forces, in whatever garb, have but to yield to people’s will. The clarion call, in the words of Shakespeare, is: ‘It may be your interest to be our masters but how can it be ours to be your slaves’.
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