Two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, Libyans are still awaiting the fruits of freedom, writes Mohammed Kahiye.
In April 2011, Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain received a very warm welcome from the Libyan rebels in their revolutionary stronghold of Benghazi. The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee was on the front line in Libya to encourage the rebels to fight Gaddafi and end his 42 year rule. In Benghazi, Senator McCain attracted such a large and enthusiastic crowd that at one point he joked: “I’ve got to bring you to Arizona.”
Rebels complained to Senator McCain that NATO air strikes had not done enough to help their cause. A few days later, the US began flying armed drones over Libya to boost the NATO firepower. Senator McCain called on President Obama to recognize the rebel government, provide them with more air support like AC130 anti-tank and A10 ground support aircraft, get anti-tank weapons into the rebels’ hands, train them on target marking technology and give them satellite phones to aid communication.
McCain laid out his reason for providing this additional support, saying: “This is a struggle for freedom on the part of the Libyan people.”
Two years later after the death of Gaddafi and his 42 years of authoritarian rule, Libyans are still waiting on the promises of the National Transitional Council (NTC) which was the public face of the eight month revolution backed by NATO air operations. Security remains elusive in the country, more weapons have fallen into the hands of numerous militias who assisted in toppling Gaddafi. The same militias are now refusing to surrender their arms and this has resulted in further violence.
10 days ago, the same militiamen in Benghazi, who were formerly supported by the US to ouster Gaddafi, shot dead 31 Libyans protesting against their rule. Apart from the deteriorating security, Libyans are missing the “positive side” of Muammar Gaddafi in terms of the social welfare that was not enjoyed by any other African country like free education, medical care, social security for the unemployed, married couples and newborns.
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Besides Libya, Gaddafi was also involved in several peace processes around the continent that collapsed immediately after his ouster and remained a great challenge as far as the volatile continent’s security is concerned, particularly in Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Mali and Chad.
King of kings
To many this was overlooked, what was important was the attainment of majority rule which is believed to be the key principle of democracy. Above all, Gaddafi also had a grand vision for Africa. The “King of Kings” dream for a “United States of Africa” which was shattered by his own countrymen and might have been the cause behind his down fall, who knows?
As the Arabic proverb says: “Time is like a sword, if you don’t cut it, it will cut you, and if you expect more you will die on the way.” Let us wait and see when the long-awaited “fruits of freedom” promised by NTC government during the time of the revolution will come for Libyan people.
In any case, the Libyan people have now got “democracy” but what significant change has it brought to the ordinary Libyan citizen’s life apart from insecurity and loss of livelihood? I have a feeling that some Libyans are missing some of the positive domestic policies that Gaddafi exercised.