Libya, the ‘failed state’, needs to look back

clinton_12521_7769In March 2011, at the time the so-called leaders of the free world were foaming at the mouth and trying to outshout each other in calling for the ousting of the then Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, I was one of thousands of people that questioned the sort of change that was being advocated so rapidly.

Time, as they say, flies. It has been three years and five months since I wrote about this change and an ample amount of water has passed under Libya’s battered bridge. Gaddafi and some of his sons were killed a few months later and Libya passed into its much-heralded ‘democratic era’.

Those of us who believed that what happened in Libya was a mindless show of power by the West, who seized what they considered a golden opportunity to rid themselves of a man that had clawed and snapped at their heels for decades, were hoping a situation more nightmarish than the NATO-led war would not befall Libya. We hoped our worst fears would not come to pass, and that Libya will somehow find its feet and become the modern democracy Cameron, Sarkorzy and Obama promised. We hoped in vain.

The signs were there, from the start. They had peered at us from the eyes of Islamists fighters, beloved of NATO; from mainstream news reports that mouthed the largely unsubstantiated reports of Gaddafi’s atrocities and the mien of returnee leaders that knew little about uniting a country whose destruction they had chaired from padded armchairs.

Libya’s destruction was certain as soon as the first propaganda bullet was fired in Benghazi. A bullet, many believe, bought with Libyan money and attractive oil fields.

I remembered watching with horror as Hillary Clinton mouthed that now infamous ‘We came, we saw, he died’ statement and laughed with glee as the news of how Gaddafi was sodomised with a steel rod and then killed by a NATO directed mob reached her. She was clearly happy, and relieved, let’s not hold that against her. Perhaps she too hoped for an end to the carnage and a quick creation of a modern Western-like nation, something she clearly believed would be brought about by Gaddafi’s death. It was doable, the oil reserves are huge, the sovereign fund was huge, and the population was sparse.

Libya burns today and tellingly, there is no bogeyman to blame. The usual suspect is long dead and his burial in a secret desert grave ensured that no one can claim his ghost directed them to revolt. Yes, there was that attempt to blame every failing of the new age Libya on the ubiquitous ‘Green Revolutionaries’, but even the most vapid propaganda about Libya tries to leave the man out of the present troubles. Now, let’s not get into where the blame lies, it will take a book to tell it all.

Today Libya burns and though their story is not foremost in the minds of the mainstream media, the bit that still gets out tells of a country governed by militias, where death and destruction is the norm, not the exception. The Islamists are fully in control of Benghazi, where a US ambassador was killed in still unclear circumstances, and have declared an Islamic Emirate.

Though we know who controls Benghazi, no one, outside of Libya, knows for sure who controls Tripoli. One thing we do know is that the country has been segmented, with different militia running different segments – some as small as several streets and some as large as cities or regions. If this situation does not collate to Somalia of a few years ago, then white is truly black.

A future unknown

It is not possible to turn back time’s hand, but the future remains to be conquered and lessons of the past have proven time and again to be a great way to shape the future. While we chose not to dwell on causes, it is imperative that Libyans understand that they were betrayed by Benghazi’s seething Islamists, who were backed by people longing for the glorious return of the monarchy Gaddafi deposed, and Western politicians who tend to think they know it all. If they had not realised this truth and start working to take back their country, then they are more foolish than one had thought.

It is doable, this restoration of Libya. The vast amount of money that made Libya’s ill-advised revolution attractive to the West in the first place, money saved for Libyans by Gaddafi’s government, would not have been expended in three years. With this money, Libyans can reunite and rebuild. But they have to be willing to look the truth in the face and take that backward step that will allow them be what they were before: a proud nation that was the envy of Africa, and the world. In so doing, they will pay their blood debt to the man that they killed in cold blood for a foreign whim. – ThisisAfrica