[Note: Using editorials as an indicator, this series presents views, understanding and attitude of the Urdu periodicals in India towards various developments concerning the Middle East. The selection of an item does not mean the endorsement or concurrence concur with their accuracy or views. Editor, MEI@ND]
The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 17 October 2011, Monday
1. Confusion Galore in the Middle East
The dramatic disclosure of an Iranian conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US created a lot of sensation but the story never looked very convincing from any angle. At present the Iranian conspiracy looks like a puzzle and it is for the US to provide substantial proof to convince the world. Accusations and counter accusations between Iran and the US are not new. The Iran-US relations faltered with the fall of the Shah of Iran due to the people’s revolution. One of the major issues between the two is the Iranian nuclear programme. It has become a bone of contention in the Iran-US ties. Iran has been saying that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes while the US claims that it is developing nuclear weapons. It regards Iran as a threat for its ally, Israel. However, it is surprising that it never worried about the Israeli nuclear weapons that pose a threat to the entire region including Iran. The nuclear issue is a major destabilizing source in the region. The neighbouring Arab countries can also have doubts about the Iranian nuclear programme and Iran perhaps is aware of it. None of the Arab countries have openly opposed the Iranian nuclear programme nor has this created bitterness among the neighbouring countries. But it is a duty of Iran to take the Arab countries into confidence on this issue and also utilize their services for resolving the issue with the US.
Iran has regional ambitions which emanate from its political ideology which was further boosted by the US attack on Iraq in 2003. This has also led to worries among other Arab countries. In fact, Iran and the Arab world have been at the receiving end of American foreign policy for a long time. The ‘Iranian conspiracy’ to kill the Saudi ambassador in the US is just another move to create confusion among the Arab countries. The Arab countries can do nothing but their anxiety will give the US a reason to act.
The most important question that comes to mind is how would Iran benefit from the assassination of Saudi ambassador to the US? This can only isolate Iran in the region. However, the people of Iran do not lack courage to tackle any unpleasant situation.
After the removal of Osama bin Laden, the US now needs a target to continue with its ‘war on terror.’ Iran looks to be a soft target for the US but this can be a dangerous trend. This will lead to doubts among the neighbours. Some of the analysts have raised doubt about the story, questioning the claim that Iran is behind the conspiracy. Gary Sick of the Columbia University is one of them. The entire story looks cooked up from the outset. Saudi Arabia shall keep away from confusion as the analysts in the US itself have raised doubts about the entire story. Iran shall also keep itself away from any intervention in the neighbouring countries. The Arab rulers are prone to accept conspiracy theories. If Iran tries to build confidence with its neighbour through co-operation then it can lead to peace and stability in the region.
The World powers are ready to extend all possible help for the security of Israel. The existence of this Jewish country depends on the Arab world but their foolish acts and some compulsions have made it strong. In the Middle East, the people of Palestine are the worst affected by Israeli brutalities. In spite of that the world powers have always supported actions to thwart Palestinian freedom. Israel has gained success in its expansionist policy amid the unstable situation since 1967. On the one hand, the so-called peace process has continued while, on the other hand, the Palestinians have been suppressed. Hamas agreed to a prisoner exchange deal with Israel as part of international effort to renew the peace process under which in exchange of one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, Israel has agreed to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. As per the deal, Israel started to free Palestinian fighters after its soldier was freed by Hamas. An initial group of 477 Palestinians have been freed who reached their homes in the Gaza Strip and the West bank. In the second stage, another 550 prisoners will be freed in next few weeks. In the eyes of Israel one of its soldiers is equal to 1,027 Palestinians. The deal looks very suspicious but the analysts have termed it an important step in the direction of resumption of peace talks. The UNSC Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has expressed hope that the prisoner exchange deal will lead to lasting peace in the Middle East. The Middle East Quartet has started negotiations for the resumption of peace talks. However, ignoring the basic demand of the Palestinians will only lead to more chaos. That is why Palestinians have refused to be part of the trilateral talks. Efforts for resumption of talks are going on since 23 September when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a resolution for Palestinian statehood. The Quartet has prepared a roadmap and agenda for resumption of talks but it would be worthless if it denies the Palestinian right of an independent state. The prisoner exchange deal may not be of any help as it seems to have been signed for diverting attention from the Palestinian statehood bid. Israel wants to divide the Arabs and destabilize them to achieve its goals. If the Arab world gains stability and become stronger, they will be able to achieve their long-term goal of eliminating Israel from the world. Israel succeeded in dividing the fast emerging Arab country Sudan. Sudan is rich with natural resources. If the Arabs would have utilized its resources it could have emerged as a powerhouse in the region, but the world powers destabilized it indicating that none of the countries in the region would be allowed to emerge as a challenge to the Israeli might. Israeli policies revolve around security and defence. If it has agreed to release 1,027 prisoners in exchange of one soldier then it would be a hidden mission or a compromise to achieve a larger goal. Nobody is bothered to counter its expansionist policies. This may lead to cheers in some quarters but it could be a dangerous trend. One need not forget that Israel would never come forward to give the Palestinian their rights and should understand that this may just be a temporary measure because of the problems which the supporters of Israel are facing due to economic recession. The Euro zone crisis has led to worries all over the western world. Israel is finding it difficult to get support in such a situation and that is why it wants to have peace with the Palestinians as a stopgap arrangement.
Palestinian Muslims have been the target of Israeli, Jewish and Zionist suppression and brutalities. Thousands of innocent Palestinians are in prisons. These polluted minds have justified all their actions to take control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Noble Sanctuary). They have established their colonies all around the Mosque; weaker and unarmed Muslims have taken refuge in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where they have been confined inside the 20 feet high and miles long walls. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have achieved martyrdom and many are languishing in Israeli prisons. The good news is that yesterday on 18 October, 477 of them were freed in exchange of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The soldier was dramatically captured in a Palestinian raid on an Israeli tank unit in 2006 in which two soldiers were killed and Shalit was captured. The initial efforts for release of Shalit did not materialize as Hamas conditioned it to release of Palestinian prisoners. Israelis also could not achieve any success in getting him released despite all its military might. Finally, Israel had to bow to the demands of Palestinian fighters and he was released after an agreement for prisoner exchange. It was not just a day of release for the Israeli soldier but also for the 1,027 Palestinian fighters. In the first stage 477 Palestinian fighters were released while the rest would be released in the next stage. Gilad Shalit was released in Sinai while the Palestinian fighters were released in the Gaza Strip, where people started celebrations the moment these fighters arrived. They were given a warm welcome by the Palestinian leaders and the people. The atmosphere in the city was ecstatic and there were celebration all around the place. We pray to God that the rest of the prisoners also are soon freed.
With the release of 477 Palestinians the doubts that were raised regarding the execution of the deal for release of 1,027 Palestinians languishing in Zionist prisons in exchange of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have been put to rest, even though the remaining 550 Palestinians are yet to be released, which according to the deal has to be done after two months.
This ‘prisoner exchange deal’ is in fact a proof for Palestinian commitment and hard work. The kind of hardships which the Palestinian people are facing due to Zionist brutalities brings shivers down the spine of common people. The killing of Palestinian people in Israeli terrorist raids has become a common phenomenon and Israel terms it as its right to defend but the international community has not done anything to prevent such attacks. The people of Palestine had to take things in their hands. The capture of Gilad Shalit is part of a strategy and it was executed in 2006 in a well planned raid on an Israeli security post in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and Shalit was captured.
The confrontation between Israel and Hamas became more intense after this raid. The Gaza Strip was completely blockaded from all sides turning it into an open prison. International aid was also blocked and the Turkish and European flotilla that had brought relief material for the people was attacked and nine activists were killed. The Gaza Strip was attacked and bombed for 22 days continuously in which more than thousand Palestinians were killed. But Israel could not achieve the release of Shalit despite the use of all its force which in a way is a victory for Palestinian resolve. The release was delayed as Israel was not ready to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange. However, the domestic pressure on Israeli government kept on mounting. Furthermore, it was a continuous reminder of a sense of defeat for the Zionist powers but finally the Palestinian resolve prevailed and Israel had to release 1,027 Palestinians in exchange of one soldier.
The deal was signed with the Egyptian mediation and it is a matter of joy for the people of Palestine. Among the 477 who were released in the first stage, 296 belong to the Gaza Strip while 163 belong to the West Bank. The list of Palestinian to be released was prepared by Hamas; while the remaining 550 who have to be released in the second stage would be decided by Israel. The deal has given a message to the world that the Israel-Palestine conflict needs to be resolved with honesty and seriously and Israel should restrain itself from violating the rights of the Palestinians. It would not be possible to suppress the people of Palestine for long by force. If the issue is not resolved such incidents can be repeated, and Israel will have to suffer defeat every time. The dream to achieve peace in West Asia would remain a dream until the people of Palestine are given their due rights. The message of this ‘prisoner exchange’ deal is that Israel must recognize the rights of Palestinian people else a nation that is demanding its right can snatch its rights as well.
The iron man of Libya is dead. Even though the news has not been confirmed yet but to say that it is not yet confirmed would not be correct as the Communication Minister in the interim Libyan government Mahmoud Shamam has issued a statement in this regard. It is now just a matter of official announcement of Qaddafi’s death. Most probably it would be officially announced by the time you would be reading this editorial.
One good thing about Qaddafi was that he dared to stand against American pressure for most part of his rule. This is the reason why he always remained on the US hit list, most of the time he was target of American conspiracies to topple him and even unsuccessful attempts were made to assassinate him. The US got an opportunity to exploit the instability inside the country; otherwise it is well known that the unrest, protests and instability was not just in Libya but in other countries in the region. No other country was attacked by the US and its allies and only Libya was attacked. It can be argued that before February only Libya had blood shedding, but even if it was there it was an internal matter of the country but the US, when it comes to its interest, does not care about any international law or norm. The use of force by Qaddafi against the civilians cannot be justified but military intervention in the internal matters of a country cannot be justified either. This was an attempt to create another Iraq and Qaddafi met the same fate as Saddam Hussein.
The intervention in Libya had the same aim as it was in Iraq; both countries have rich oil reserves. Libya is the largest oil producer country in Africa and ninth largest in world. It was an OPEC member as well. It is well known that the US controls other countries either by making them friends or by attacking them on frivolous grounds. Libya and Qaddafi were on its target for a long time. He was a target of verbal abuse and name calling by the western powers because of his courage to stand up for the people of Libya against the foreign powers. The Libyan leader was not even given a chance to fight and everything was destroyed through bombardments. Some of the unsatisfied elements in the country were instigated and a situation was created for external intervention. Had he been given a fair chance the Lion of Libya would have defended its country and its people.
The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 22 October 2011, Saturday
6. End of Qaddafi
It is a violent and stormy end to Qaddafi’s story. How did it happen and who is responsible for it; the clever Western nations or the Libyan leader himself? He referred to himself as a complete personality who is part of history and a symbol of resistance, revolution and dignity. He could never be termed as courageous. He was insane and indulged in sadist behaviour during his rule; for instance the bombing of Pan American flight in which 270 passengers were killed. Libya later accepted responsibility for this terrorist activity and gave out compensation to the kin of those who were killed. In 2003, he suddenly renounced his stand on Israel and the West and established diplomatic and trade relations with European countries. A person who, at one point of time, had advocated drowning the ‘Zionists’ in ocean was now talking about peaceful co-existence of Palestine and Israel.
Usually when a ruler dies the people in the country mourn but unfortunately the people in Libya were celebrating the death of Qaddafi which is a reflection of the way he ruled the country. In these modern times people can no more accept authoritarian rulers. The US, which considers itself as the second name of democracy, is now feeling the heat of its own ideology which it has propagated all over the world. The majority of people in the US are suffering from economic hardships as the rulers in the White House have followed a policy due to which its entire wealth is now in the hands of only one percent capitalists. They may not face the same fate as Qaddafi but they will have to face the anger of the people. The dream to rule the world would remain a dream as they will have to face the problems inside the country.
Even though the Libyan rebels had captured power some two months back but the ghost of Qaddafi had refused to let them live in peace. The end of Qaddafi is a new dawn in the history of Libya. The interim government is preparing for conducting elections within eight months. The National Interim Council which is working from Benghazi looks promising and it seems that the people of Libya are ready to come out of chaos and build a peaceful polity and society after Qaddafi’s exit.
Doubts had been raised about the ability of the rebels to control the country and prevent its fragmentation particularly after the killing of their Defence Minister Gen. Abdul Fattah Yunus. The case have not been solved yet; it was said that he was killed by the rebels themselves but it looks very unlikely. The situation in Libya is similar to the chaotic condition that prevailed in Iraq after the 2003 attack and Saddam’s capture. Meanwhile, the unannounced visit of Hillary Clinton to Tripoli indicates American efforts for reconstruction in the country. The US has played a prominent role in removal of Qaddafi. Doubts have been raised that tribal and ethnic violence can also erupt due to killing of Qaddafi. Factions among the rebels and some of the remaining elements of the Qaddafi regime can cause problem. The new leaders shall guard the country from falling into chaos again.
Muammar al-Qaddafi who ruled over Libya for 42 years was killed on 20 October 2011. He was ousted from power on 21 August this year. He was hiding since then and it was supposed that he was somewhere in the Sahara. On the contrary, he was in Sirte where he finally met his end. According to the statement by the NTC fighters, the last and decisive attack on the Qaddafi’s loyal mercenaries was launched in the morning and within 90 minutes of fighting not only Qaddafi was killed but entire Libya came under NTC. They stated that soon a new government would be formed and efforts would be made to promote democracy. It has to be seen whether the NTC succeeds in bringing democracy or turns into another authoritarian rule. The good thing for the people of Libya is that they got rid of an authoritarian ruler like Qaddafi. World leaders have also welcomed the killing of Qaddafi. According to them it is an end to autocratic rule in Libya. Obama termed it as a relief from long and painful rule. In a statement issued in Washington he said that the Arab youth are demanding their rights and the leaders would have to oblige the people’s wishes. He added that just one year back nobody could have imagined a free Libya but now when the people took up the challenge it became possible. It is indeed a historic day for Libya. British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy termed the killing of Muammar Qaddafi as a step forward for democratic rule in Libya. UNSC Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also welcomed the change in Libya. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard welcomed the change in Libya and appealed to the new leadership to work for democracy and peace. On the other hand, the reaction in neighbouring country of Pakistan was mixed; some termed him as martyr while others termed it as a welcome change. Libya under Qaddafi had taken a stance against India quite a number of times. In 2009 Qaddafi had said that India wants itself to be included in the powerful nations but it does not deserve it. He had on several occasions said that Kashmir should be granted freedom. He was never a friend of India and was critical of India’s foreign policy. He had asked help from India against the rebels once the rebel fighters started to gain an upper hand against his forces. His violent death is exemplary for the dictators like Khamenei of Iran.
The international media has not left any stone unturned to vilify Muammar Qaddafi. The reporting has been done in a manner to show that the NATO forces have save hundreds of thousands of people in Libya from being massacred by Qaddafi’s loyal forces. Nobody has yet asked that if Qaddafi was such a brutal dictator; why the people of Libya have tolerated him for 42 years? Why did Europe keep doing business with the Qaddafi regime despite taking an anti-Qaddafi stance in public? The Western media is not raising these points because this will bring the Western hypocrisy to the fore. It is this hypocrisy which Qaddafi always spoke against. The West was more afraid of his straight forward ways. How many national leaders in the world can voice their feeling against the Western countries and their spread of terror in the world or can term Israel as a settler and occupier country. Before 1948 there was no Israel. This country came into existence through deception and intrusion and is a symbol of aggression. Qaddafi had the courage to speak his mind. In a speech in 2006, he said that time is not far when Europe would become an entire Muslim continent as Islam is fast spreading there. This was a bitter pill for the European leaders to swallow.
Qaddafi never gave in to Western pressure and he never acted like an American puppet. He could never be pressurized to take the Western line. Now when he has been brutally killed the Western powers are trying to spread lies against his character. It is propaganda to vilify him. It was perhaps this reason that he was killed in such a manner to make it symbolic for those who dare to stand against the Western designs. The story which is being propagated about his killing would never satisfy a sane mind.
If intentions are bad it shows in action. The West showed its hypocrisy by killing him and the Western agents in Libya forgot that if a criminal can be easily arrested then bullets shall not be used. The NATO forces sowed their true character by shooting him in the head and the UN was forced to say that the conditions of killing of Qaddafi shall be investigated. It was never easy for the West to remove Qaddafi from power nor was it easy to kill him; and now they will not be able to do the final rights easily.
It was noted in these columns sometime back that the US effort to put the blame of the conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US on Iran is baseless. It was also said that the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad would do well to talk directly to the Saudi King Abdullah and convey him the point that the US is extremely disgusted about its failure in the region and wants to create problems between the people of Iran and the Arab world. The US is well aware that Arab and Iranian people have no enmity and all the American and Israeli propaganda to prove that the Iranian nuclear bomb would be a Shia bomb and would be used against the Sunni world has failed. The people in the Arab world are not at all against the Iranian nuclear programme but on the contrary see it favourably. The Iranian leader did not talk directly to King Abdullah but he recently expressed the same views in his interview with the correspondent of an Arabic TV channel. The Iranian President clearly said that it would be foolish to think that Iran would send some Iranians to kill the ambassador of a friendly country. How would Iran gain from this? The Saudi-Iran ties are based on good intentions and are friendly. Why would Iran want to destroy it? But this will certainly help the American designs in the region. The US wants to impose more economic sanctions on Iran and was looking for an excuse. He added that Iran minces no words in criticizing American policies and the US should take it as a criticism. The US thinks of itself as the lone superpower of the world. All the US policies in the region have failed. It has to face defeat on all fronts including Iraq, Palestine and Iran. The US is working on many strategies and one is to create enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia. But he rejected this tactics as foolish. He was certain that the truth would come out in open and the US will be the one to suffer. He advised the US to review its policies in the Arab world and accept its mistakes. He advised the US to take care of its economy which is in deep waters as blaming Iran will not solve its economic problems. No doubt this is a wise act from Ahmedinejad as it will help clear the clouds. As far as the US is concerned its decline has started. Who could have thought that Pakistan, which is a puppet of the US, can talk tough with the US and warn it against attacking Pakistan. It is also true that the influence of the US in Asia has declined and its economy is in a very bad shape. The authorities in the US are trying to suppress the “Occupy Wall Street” movement but to no avail. The movement has jolted the roots of American capitalist system and is now moving towards Europe. The interview is not just right on time but based on truth and shall be welcomed.
The killing of Muammar Qaddafi can be termed as a sad phase of the ongoing movements in the Arab world. His son Mutasim was also killed. The killings should be enough to open the eyes of those Arab leaders who are fomenting anger among their people and helping the enemies of Arabs. The history of the world is not free from dictators but few met a bloody end. Muammar Qaddafi remained adamant on sticking to power even after the weakening of his rule since the beginning of a mass rebellion against the regime. Evidently, the plan of external powers to eliminate the longest serving Arab ruler reached its successful conclusion. He was the first charismatic leader from the Sahara who dislodged King Idris to take control of Libya. In the initial phase of his rule he utilized the oil wealth for promotion of education and reconstruction of the country and promotion of Arab cause. He could not do much for the Arab world during his rule, even though he made an unsuccessful attempt to form an Arab federation with Egypt and Syria. He distinguished himself through his style and ways of work. One of his major achievements was empowering the people of Libya. The West termed him as a terrorist leader because of alleged attempt to bomb major European cities. He was also accused of involvement in creation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The US was after his life for a long time but he escaped a number of assassination attempts. In 1986, even cruise missiles were launched on his palace. The regime also had to face UN sanctions on the issue of Lockerbie bombings. The former US President Ronald Reagan was extremely critical of the Qaddafi regime which was not taken very favourably in many Arab quarters. He had to face many problems due to his tensions with the US and since the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, he was certain that he will have to face the same fate. Perhaps this was the reason why he tried to normalize his relations with the West. The Qaddafi regime even gave compensation to the victims of Lockerbie bombings to streamline his relations with the West. But this softening of stand led to instigation by the Western powers among the local population. The people were also angry with some of his policies and got inspired by the changes in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia leading to a mass rebellion in the country. The NATO intervention further helped the rebels. The Libyan people started the movement in February 2011 after success of protesters in Tunisia and Egypt and demanded Qaddafi’s resignation. He thought himself to be a revolutionary leader and could not assess the situation. However, his commitment to die the death of a martyr till the end is worth noticing. The fall of regimes in the Arab world, one after the other, is a victory for Western powers. The Syrian security forces have killed more than 3,000 people to save the Bashar regime and possibly the West will now head to Syria. The killing of Qaddafi will also affect Obama’s re-election bid which can be termed as an achievement after killing of Osama Bin Laden. The death of Qaddafi who never cared for the US and the UN and termed the Security Council as ‘Terror Council’ is another step forward in the process of weakening the Arab world. A neutral investigation of the killing of Qaddafi may establish the accusation of war crimes against the US and the NATO. Killing of the head of a state for the sake of oil can never be justified.
The global media has become so polluted that the authenticity of any news is always doubtful. It has completely lost transparency. In particular, news about the wars by the US and its allies are never reported accurately; the news are either filtered or delayed. The basic reason for this is that neutral and free media are not allowed to cover independently and so the truth never comes out in open. The people get only that news which is issued by the governments and occupied forces. Take for example the news which was generally published with respect to Muammar Qaddafi. The charismatic leader who proudly ruled over Libya for 42 years was vilified to the maximum extent possible. Similar media campaign had earlier been launched against Saddam Hussein. Their elimination was made out to be some kind of favour to the world. The celebration among the people of Libya on the killing of Qaddafi is being reported in a manner as if Qaddafi was the worst human being who was living in the world. This one sided coverage of events is extremely disturbing and is a proof of a biased and prejudiced media. Nobody can deny the fact that even worst of the people have a brighter side. Such people can also be benevolent to some of the people. The benevolent side of Qaddafi, the aid he extended to poorer nations and his achievements as Libyan President by making a poor Saharan country into a self sustained economy despite international sanctions was never reported in the global media. Such behaviour is deplorable. All these things are done to cover the wrong doings of the occupying forces.
Such hypocritical behaviour of the West is well known. This hypocrisy creates pseudo truths. Currently, the global media is busy propagating that the people of Libya are celebrating the death of a brutal dictator like Qaddafi. It may not be known that the majority of Libyans are grief struck like the Muslims in Brazil and Uganda who were not only sad but also prayed for his forgiveness. Qaddafi was extremely generous to these people; mosques, hospitals, schools were built with the aid from the late Libyan leader.
The news of Qaddafi’s death brought respite to a lot of people in particular to the Western countries which attacked Libya that the NATO accomplished its mission and the people of Libya got rid of an autocratic and authoritarian ruler. But the entire humanity was scandalized as the video of his brutal murder came to light and the United Nations was forced to take action. The UN Human Rights Commission demanded investigation into the killing. Consequently, the burial had to be postponed and the National Transitional Council had to make clarifications and now the Libyan freedom has itself come into question.
Undoubtedly, Qaddafi was an authoritarian dictator and when some people started a movement for change in the country in early 2011, the regime cracked down brutally on the protestors. The suppression was so brutal that not only the West but the Islamic world also voiced its disagreement with his regime. It has to be noted that the International Criminal Court issued a non-bailable warrant against him and his sons when a case was filed. Meanwhile, the Interpol also issued a red corner notice against him. So, he was made to be a criminal without any prosecution or court decision; but the way he was brutally killed was completely against the spirit of a civilized world. When even target killing is not allowed during war then on what basis was he captured and killed rather than being tried in a court of justice? That is why the human rights organizations in the entire world took notice of the incident.
The statements issued by the Western nations and the Libyan NTC and the videos that have been broadcasted on the TV channels clearly show that these people are trying to hide the truth. Initially, it was reported that he was killed in a NATO attack while later it was said that he was killed by his guards. But the videos that were released showed that he was captured alive, brutally assaulted and left on the roads to die. It may be possible that he was injured in a NATO attack but it is clear that he was captured alive by the rebels and his death was made out to be a circus. He was tortured in public. The rebels dragged Qaddafi on the roads, some were pulling his hairs while some where assaulting and kicking him but nobody tried to prevent this inhuman behaviour. The video clearly showed him asking for help but the crowd was adamant on killing him. Finally a bullet struck him on head but till now it has not come to the light as to who shot him. But what is clear from the video is that he was brutally killed. Such brutal killing cannot be allowed in a civilized world. The Libyan leader met a sad end which is a lesson to the entire world. Such a violent start to the formation of free Libya raises lots of questions to the future of the world.
The steady currents of the Arab Spring that began in Tunisia have dethroned despots like Zine El Abidine Ben-Ali and Hosni Mubarak while the likes of Saleh of Yemen and Bashar of Syria have still held their ground despite huge waves that threatened to uproot their regimes. Other dictators from Bahrain to Iran and Saudi Arabia have also felt the heat but have refused to learn their lessons. The latest casualty of the Arab Spring—Muammar Qaddafi’s death—has been termed as a lesson for others by analysts. In fact, Qaddafi is the real casualty of this upsurge as he has been bludgeoned by its bloodied hands. Ben-Ali and Mubarak are fortunate to be alive. Even though the analysts have termed the killing of Qaddafi a result of Western influence and civil war in the country but the people in Libya were relieved and celebrated his death. People in Benghazi, Tripoli and other cities were seen celebrating on the roads as the NTC officially declared the freedom of Libya. The Libya which got freedom from France in 1950s had to be freed from its own dictator. The NTC president Mustafa Abdul Jalil and Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said while addressing a public meeting in Benghazi that they will work for the reconstruction, stability and new constitution. They also announced that the new constitution will be based on Islamic Sharia and any previous law that is against Sharia would stand terminated. They thanked the people for their support. They also requested the armed fighters to lay down arms and announced a general pardon for the fighters of former leader Muammar Qaddafi to avoid further fighting. On the other hand, Muammar Qaddafi who ruled over Libya for 42 years is dead now but his body is still lying in the morgue as the burial has been postponed to facilitate the investigation on the circumstances of his death. The NTC has said that they will hand over the body to the family of deceased. The doctors who carried out the post-mortem said that the death happened due to a bullet that hit his head. Some people have condemned the brutal killing of Qaddafi. They are of the opinion that he should rather have been captured alive and tried in a court of justice.
One of the major tasks for the NTC is to disarm the common people; weapons, arms and ammunitions are available in abundance all over Libya and different groups are in control of different regions of the country who may demand a share in power. Further skirmishes among different groups within the rebels cannot be ruled out completely thereby posing a major challenge to the NTC leadership. It has to be seen whether the new leadership in Libya achieves success in implementing peace, stability and promote democracy in Libya or it would just be a....Revenge of Democracy.....!!
The announcement of freedom in Libya came with the promise to implement Sharia laws with the formation of the interim government. This announcement is also a formal announcement of end of Qaddafi’s rule over Libya. Three days after the killing of Qaddafi the new leadership announced the freedom for Libya. Forty-two years is a long time but the people of Libya did not get the benefit of oil wealth during this period and this caused accumulation of anger among the masses. However, the international human rights organizations have expressed their shock on the circumstances leading to the killing of Qaddafi. The people of Libya would not attain real freedom until the leadership utilizes the oil wealth for the welfare of common people. The country has rich oil reserves and Libyan oil is of very high quality which does not need much refinement. Had Col. Qaddafi used the oil for the welfare of people of the country, it would have been in a different shape by now as it is a scarcely populated region. The infrastructure in the country is not exemplary. The designs of enemies of Arabs would not have succeeded had the people benefitted from the oil wealth. The people of Libya were not happy in Qaddafi’s rule. The European countries played a very demeaning role in Libya. The new leadership will have to guard against the external designs on Libya’s oil wealth. The people who are celebrating the killing of Qaddafi shall think about the future of their country. The NATO and the US will now try to recommend the same model of democracy to other Arab countries. It was a very clever external intervention in Libya. The Muslim world needs to be careful about the external conspiracies against these countries. The Western powers may try to divide Libya into two or more countries. The US President Barack Obama has expressed his hope that the NTC would try to promote democracy in Libya. The new leadership also suffers from divisions from within and so it has to be seen how they deal with the problems of the people. The different factions in the NTC will demand share in power. However, those who are interested only in Libya will show no interest in the internal matters of Libya. The future of people of Libya now depends on the new leadership.
The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 26 October 2011, Wednesday
15. Post-Qaddafi Libya
The NTC has announced that Libya would be an Islamic country. It has also been announced that the basis of new constitution in Libya would be the Islamic Sharia and Islamic banking would be founded. As the NTC president Mustafa Abdul Jalil addressed the people it became clear that Libya would be an Islamic country.
As the rule of Qaddafi comes to an end and Libya has to make a new beginning, questions are being raised about its future. Forty-two years of dictatorship was a testing time for the country and its people. The situation in the Arab countries is changing fast and Islamic movements are spreading their influence and are now in a position to be part of the governments in these states. The conditions of transition in Libya pose a major challenge for the new leadership.
The NTC has announced that they will hold elections within eight months and would also write a new constitution. The announcement by the NTC to create an Islamic country may not go down well with the West that helped the Libyan rebels. The situation in the country has improved now and presence of external forces may not be required any more. The new leadership also has the responsibility to free Libya of any external presence. If the new rulers fails in establishing a stable government it can give excuse for external presence.
The most important question is the acceptability of the new leadership among the people. The gap which has come to fore after Qaddafi looks to have been filled with the coming together of two different groups. One is the local leaders and politicians while the other is those who defected from the previous government. These two groups are influential in two different parts of the country and the NATO wishes to divide Libya into eastern and western parts. If the external powers that are now fighting over the spoils of war in Libya have their way the future of Libya looks very bleak.
The people of Libya were suffering under Qaddafi for 42 years and got an opportunity to raise their voice which they started with the rebellion since 15 February 2011. The people were committed to rid Libya of Qaddafi. They finally achieve their target and Libya was freed from Qaddafi’s rule. A new NTC interim government took over power in Libya and within two months Qaddafi was killed. The people then celebrated on the streets and the squares of Libyan cities and chanted ‘Freedom for Libya’. The people of Libya were obviously happy as they could achieve this freedom after a long and bloody struggle.
The NTC chairman started his freedom speech with verses from Quran and announced that Libya would be a model Islamic state with a constitution based on Sharia. He not only thanked the people but also thanked Allah for granting freedom to Libya with a message of love for the people. The West has not taken these announcements positively and has expressed their doubts. It would not be easy to practically implement the announcement made by Mustafa Abdul Jalil. The Western countries would try to put roadblocks for the new interim government. The NTC may have to oblige the external powers that have played a major role in ousting Qaddafi from power. It has to be seen that what the future has in store for Libya.
Tunisia went through general elections on 23 October 2011. Large numbers of people participated in voting. According to some reports, as much as 90 percent of the eligible voters used their right of franchise that reflects the enthusiasm among the people. The global media has termed these elections as free and fair. International observers have also seconded these claims. A large population of eligible voters are listed in the country. A total of more than 100 parties were in the fray for 217 seats. It was also reported that women’s participation in the elections was high. The elections were held on the basis of proportional representation and an important aspect of the election was that the Tunisian expatriates were also provided the right to vote which, it has been reported, they used to the maximum. Eighteen seats had to be filled with their vote. Hundreds of external observers were present on the occasion in addition of thousands of Tunisian observers. The polling remained largely free from violence and rigging. Reports of misuse of government machinery have also not come. The elected representatives would form an interim government and would also comprise the constituent assembly.
As the results started to come it became increasingly clear the moderate al-Nahda (Renaissance) party is leading. The media which had reported that the elections were not only free and fair but also peaceful then started to report the victory of moderate Islamist party in Tunisian election. The moderate Islamists also won half of the seats among the expatriates. It was also reported that the moderate Islamist have emerged as the single largest party but none of the parties have got a simple majority. The media wanted to project that the Islamists would not be able to form a government on their own and would be dependent on others. If they did not fulfil the aspirations of people they can be easily dislodged from power.
The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 28 October 2011, Friday
18. Tunisia: Will there be a Positive Change?
The first free and fair elections in Tunisia after the ousting of its autocratic ruler Zine El Abidine Ben-Ali can be termed as an example for the entire Arab world. The final results are awaited but the trends indicate that the Islamist and democratic al-Nahda party has emerged as the largest party in the 217 member Constituent Assembly. The pleasant aspect of the elections is that none of the participating parties or groups has raised any doubts about the fairness of the elections. Instead all the parties including the leftist parties such as the Al-Tajdid (renewal) and the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) have stated that the trends are pretty clear and they welcome the election results and respect the decision of the people.
The victory of al-Nahda indicates that it got votes from various sections of society and that the party which owes its ideology to Muslim Brotherhood would lead the formation of constitution. Al-Nahda is an Islamist party and it is in this context that the role of religion in Tunisian society was one of the points of discussion before the elections. The moderates had predicted a loss for the Islamist party led by Rached al-Gannouchi. The moderates had accused al-Nahda of receiving aid from Persian Gulf countries.
The leader of al-Nahda Rached al-Gannouchi argues for people’s ability to create an amalgamation of Islam and democracy for Muslim polities. He is a leading Muslim thinker. He was living in exile for two decades and had returned recently. A number of prominent Islamist leaders had to go in exile due to crack down by the Ben-Ali government on Islamist political parties during his rule. Rached Gannouchi took refuge in the West. Al-Nahda is not new to politics. During the initial free days of Ben-Ali rule, al-Nahda had emerged as a strong party. The party had achieved 17 percent of votes during the 1989 constituent assembly voting. The crackdown by Ben-Ali government had started immediately afterwards. A numbers of leaders were jailed while others went into exile. The earlier government had banned religious political parties including al-Nahda. The party was formed in 1981 and initially it was called as the Islamic Trend Movement but it was renamed in 1988 as Hizb al-Nahda (The Renaissance Party).
A large number of parties participated in elections. However, Rached al-Gannouchi had claimed that his party would achieve majority. Algeria had seen the success of Islamist parties in the 1992 elections but the country fell into civil-war, as the winning party was not allowed to form the government, which inflicted huge casualties. Another such example can be cited from Sudan where the Islamic movement came to power through military coup but the country was finally divided after conflicting with the authorities at all levels. As a result, people are raising doubts about al-Nahda as well. But Rached Gannouchi can benefit from the past experience in Algeria and Sudan and the history of Islamic movements all over the world. This is the reason why he wants to emulate the Turkish model where secular ideas co-exist with Islam. Only time can tell to what extent they will succeed. In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood has brought changes in its programmes and policies to win people’s confidence and it has achieved success to some extent. The fundamentalist Islamic movements have grown in the Middle East in recent times and the violent ways they have acquired to seek power is extremely disturbing. The success of moderate Islamic ideology which Rached Gannouchi advocates depends on winning the confidence of people. The world is experiencing massive upheavals due to violence, exploitation and inequality. The people in the Muslim world want to return to their roots and in this scenario al-Nahda can be expected to have a success at holding power in Tunisia.
This decade is decade of revolutions in the Arab world. The first free and fair elections in Tunisia are the first step into this revolution. Tunisia has witnessed elections ten months after the success of Arab Spring. Elections were held on 23 October and the al-Nahda party received 58 percent of votes and 117 seats in the 217 member Constituent Assembly. A total of 81 parties in addition to several independent candidates took part in elections. Constitutional Democratic Rally (CDR), al-Nahda al-Islami (Islamic Renaissance), Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and Hizb al-Tahrir (Freedom Party) were the major parties in the fray. The protests in Tunisia started after the self-immolation incident by an educated unemployed youth which brought an end to the rule of Zine El Abidine and then the protests spread throughout the region like jungle fire. It was due to this wave of protests that the autocratic rulers of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were dislodged from power and others seem to be in queue to be deposed. Tunisia is the first Arab country to have undergone free and fair elections which may be an indication of the future of Arab world. The people of Tunisia participated in the elections in large numbers and with great enthusiasm. Al-Nahda, which emerged as the largest party, has announced that it will form a democratic government. The party has been labelled as a fundamentalist party by some analysts in the West. There are people in the country as well who are extremely critical of al-Nahda. Rached al-Gannouchi also is aware of these challenges and has taken a very moderate stand on a number of issues. His stand on the issue of freedom of women and dress code for women are also very moderate. He has also tried to give an impression that Islamic ideology can co-exist with secular ideas and that al-Nahda cannot be compared to Taliban and the Iranian Islamic regime. It has also been said that the party will work for a modern constitution and that the new government would work for cooperation and better ties with the West.
This is undoubtedly a disturbing political stroke by al-Nahda leader. The caution in implementation of Sharia means westernisation of the country and the equality of women means falling into the trap of West. The formation of a democratic government in Tunisia is being welcomed by the world but it is a disturbing trend for the Muslim world. Rached Gannouchi need not change his stand which he advocated during 1980s. The need for economic empowerment and improvement of the country’s stand among the world nations can be done within an Islamic framework.
The victory of Islamist party in the Tunisian elections would certainly be shocking for those who were happy at the advent of revolutions in the Arab world. Zine El Abidine Ben-Ali who was ruling Tunisia for three decades had to leave the country after protests. Tunisia was the first country where protests started and then spread all over the region. The people have now elected an Islamist party to form the government. This transition took ten months. The al-Nahda got 90 seats out of the 217 member Constituent Assembly. The party will now be responsible for formation of an interim government and conducting of parliamentary and presidential elections in addition to writing a new constitution for the North African country. It will also have to give shape to a new Tunisia that fulfils the aspirations of its people and do away with the problems created by the earlier regime. The party was banned during Ben-Ali rule. Among other parties, the leftist party got 30 seats while the centre-left party won 21 seats. As much as 90 percent voting was recorded in the elections. The people took part in voting with enthusiasm to start the beginning of a new Tunisia. This has also raised hope among the people of other Arab countries, in particular among the people of neighbouring Egypt which also is going through a similar situation. The al-Nahda leader Rached Gannouchi has said that the party will strive to put Tunisia on the path of development. He also reassured the sceptics of the Islamist party and said that the party will work for gender equality. These announcements will create a reassuring atmosphere in Tunisia where people want development and economic empowerment. The party will have to work for empowerment of youth and create employment opportunities for them. They will also have to work for alleviation of poor and create opportunities for investment. If al-Nahda could successfully form a government and improve the situation in Tunisia and its people then other Arab and Muslim countries will also be encouraged to apply similar model of governance which can bring the message of a new beginning in the Arab world where the moderate Islamist parties will play major roles in the polity and government of their countries.
Md. Muddassir Quamar is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Email
As part of its editorial policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spelling and date formats to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND: P R Kumaraswamy