Returning to the subject of my courtroom usher, who currently works in Benghazi as a NTC liaison officer with some of NATO's still active special units, he showed me the large ornate Italian style courtroom window which, like the courtroom, was also freshly painted. Wiping an index finger on the window ledge to show me its dust free condition, he explained: "As you can see with our newly painted courtroom we are now ready to bring these dogs to justice and we don't want any foreign interference in our country. We can take care of our own problems." Speechless, I kept my thoughts to myself. But they included that had my guide's new attitude about foreign interference and rivals in Libya settling their differences among themselves prevailed nine months ago, Libya would not have experienced the scores of thousands killed, wounded or whose lives were to varying degrees shattered, the latter affecting Libya's total population.
The above events, the show trial and equating a painted courtroom with readiness to administer justice, make plain to this observer that Libya in not yet ready to conduct fair criminal trials, not for the 16,000 current detainees, (approximately 3000 still in prison from the previous regime, and close to 13,000 jailed by Libya's claimed liberators). Libya currently lacks the capacity and perhaps agreement about what a fair trial would even be. It appears that currently a fair trial will not be conducted for high profile former regime loyalists.
Part of the reason is that today in Libya, the prevailing political, and legal dicta comes not from Gadhafi's little Green book, volume I of which was published in 1976, or the engraved words outside UN HQ at Turtle Bay, New York, from Isaiah 2:4: "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." Rather today's clarion in Libya trumpets a quotation from Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book published in 1964, and it's as true today as ever it was: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."
Despite sanctimonious NATO calls for the nearly four dozen militia, with more forming every month, to turn in their weapons, most of which NATO indirectly supplied, Libya's armed gangs are rearming, increasing their rank and file numbers and expanding the scope and the variety of their "security parameters", all designed for maximizing their political power in the continuing turbulent period which will likely witness serial new and weak governments rising and collapsing here.
Key militias groups like the Zintanis, who captured Seif, or the Misratans, who killed Muammar and the most organized groups, which are Islamist, have organizational networks that are supporting their demands for major posts in the new government. Todays expected announcement by interim Prime Minister Abdul Rahim al-Keib, of a new interim government, is considered a mere starting point by these stronger militias in the process of maneuvering themselves into essentially full control.
This absence of control over the militias is only too evident in the treatment of less than high profile captured former regime officials and towns. Reports of score settling are heard everywhere. Ignoring the claimed authority of the NTC, militias continue to ransack towns formally loyal to Gadhafi as they mete out bloody reprisals even on rival militia opposed to the former regime. Instead of handing over weapons from captured government arsenals to the authorities, militias are taking them back to their hometowns. So far the interim government has been unable to exert any significant authority over a country awash with weapons and armed men.
This observer was approached last week in the lobby of a five-star Tripoli hotel by an Israeli business man who was jokingly complaining, "Why don't these people speak Hebrew? Maybe I should open a school." Like many of his countrymen and hundreds from NATO countries, Israelis are having no trouble getting visas here. It is not the same for black Africans and Arabs who are being held in herds at the borders with Egypt or Tunisia, or in Cairo, Alexandria, or Tunis, until groups of hundreds can be assembled and processed by well-paid construction and domestic worker employment agents who will likely continue Lebanese and Saudi Arabian style "keep their passports and pay them pittance" slave labor practices. The droves arriving in Libya to do business, some of whom this observer has spoken with, will pretty much accept any kind of business if the bottom line is attractive. "God willing we can make this country into another Dubai", one fellow opined as he asked if I knew any real estate agents who could help him buy up Mediterranean beach frontage cheap for a tourist resort.
On the lighter side, but to this observer's chagrin, even my Chadian princess friends, who work with the traditional Saharan medicine specialist Dr. Fatma, and who more or less cured my leg in late August, and whose staff still administers my necessary outpatient physical therapies, are getting into the weapons business.
Today the picture of Libya is that of a country split into deadly rival factions. Cambridge University's Tarak Barkawi, accurately describes Libya as a country "shot through with rivalries, jealousies and blood debts." The NTC is itself is a disparate collection of defected regime elements, Islamists, secular expatriates and Berbers, many deeply suspicious of NTC leader Jalil who has never adequately explained his role in the July assassination of his rival, former Interior Minister General Younis after the latter joined the rebels.
An international legal team is working on a brief for the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and the Libya National Transitional Council, laying out arguments to be used on behalf of former Gadhafi regime loyalists in an effort to convince these bodies that the facts and law of this case warrant moving their trials from Libya to The Hague.
The brief is expected to be made available publicly on December 15, 2011. Meanwhile the UN Security Council must support the ICC and assure that Libyan show trials for former regime loyalist that have been indicted are avoided by conducting their trials in The Hague.