The Arab revolution is facing its first obstacle, in the shape of a tyrant, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who suffers from delusions of grandeur, awarding himself God-like status. One of the major differences between Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, is that the latter has not really got a national Army charged with protecting the people from external threats, but a collection of militias, with the ones best armed and trained those controlled by Gaddafi, his sons or his tribe. They are charged with protecting him, his sons and the rest of the gang. Abdel Bari Atwan in Al-Quds Al-Arabi Arabic newspaper identifies the problem "as that residing in the tribal nature of Libyan society with Gaddafi sitting on billions of dollars, which he is using to buy the loyalty and allegiance of powerful people and their followers, and to pay mercenaries from neighbouring African countries."
However, even with such bribes, people on his side have shown no enthusiasm for supporting him, with many reports of desertions and massacres of those refusing to fight the Libyan opposition, and of pilots deliberately missing their targets, with others defecting to Malta rather than carry out orders to bomb peaceful protesters. The morale of the pro-democracy revolutionaries, in contrast, is understandably high, for their causes of freedom, dignity and human rights are noble ones.
The temptation in the west to intervene militarily is strong but must be resisted at all costs. The west would claim that their intervention would be for humanitarian reasons, to see an end to the despotic regime, and to prevent the tyrant from killing his own people. Some would argue that the real reason is to end uncertainty that is driving the price of oil ever higher, and to ensure some influence on events and on whoever replaces the dictator, and thus protect their interests as they see them. The people of Libya would also like to see a swift end to this gangster-form of rule that has enslaved them all these years. They want a future where they can live a dignified life, with their aspirations to be free and their human rights respected. The west, having been caught hesitating in their support for the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, responded rightly, in my opinion, in quickly supporting the revolutionaries in Libya. The use of the UN and the International Criminal Court to isolate Gaddafi and his cronies, and to indict those responsible for war crimes, combined with freezing the assets of members of the regime, are all good things, and may hasten his downfall. Let us not spoil it all by overegging the pudding with military intervention.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi Arabic newspaper quotes Sheik Imam Salem Jabir in his Friday sermon (4 March) in the Benghazi Mosque saying: "We do not want military intervention. We do not want foreign intervention, we have enough men to see our battle to victory----We are one tribe in the north, south, and east and west; we all belong to one tribe. Its name is Libya and its capital is Tripoli"
Aljazeera Arabic quotes a report in the British Financial Times of the arrests of eight armed British Special Forces soldiers by the revolutionaries in Libya. They claimed that "they are escorting a diplomat on his way to negotiate with the rebels their needs in their fight with Gaddafi's forces". The report continues: "this has angered the rebels who emphasized that they have not requested such assistance and who now fear that this will be used by Gaddafi as evidence of their collusion with foreign governments thus garnering support for his forces."
The capacity of the west to shoot itself in the foot should not be underestimated.
Military intervention would have the opposite effect to what is intended, and the urge to do so should be strongly suppressed. It would undermine the legitimacy of the revolution; it would give Gaddafi and his mercenaries the rallying cry of fighting the invaders that are coming to occupy Libya and control its resources. The spectre of the disaster that was the Iraq war will loom large and will be exploited by the regime. The effect would be to strengthen the regime, thus prolonging the suffering of the Libyan people, and would undermine the genuine interests of ordinary people in the west and the US. Gaddafi's claims at present of blaming al-Qaida, drugs and everybody except his tyrannical rule can be dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic. Please do not give him a credible cause by intervening militarily. The Arab revolution, started in Tunisia, is unstoppable; it was never going to be easy and the setback in Libya will be overcome by the Libyan people on their way to a better future. They, above all else, need to own this revolution.
The chains induced by fear imprisoning the Arab people have been broken by the revolutionary young, and the tide of pent up yearning to be free is triumphant. The Libyan difficulty is no more than a minor setback on that road on which the Arab masses have embarked. There will be more obstacles on the way, but make no mistake, these will be overcome and the Arabs will be free.