Libya. New Beginnings

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Brother-Leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, a name which will no longer incite fear or respect in every Libyan heart now the Libyan people have overthrown their dictator and can be proud in the future they can build for their children.

A future which can hopefully be as democratic as the national transition council intends. A future where Libyans can finally become part of a world community as equals, unashamed of their country’s leadership.

Jose Manuel Barosso, the president of the European commission stated that the death of Gaddafi marks ‘the end of an era of despotism and repression from which the Libyan people has suffered too long.’ This is undoubtedly true, reinforced by the manner in which the Gaddafi loyalists fought in the past months and the atrocities they have committed.

The years of UN sanctions have hurt the Libyan nation, a country which should be rich and prosperous- but has been stunted by favouritism, corruption, denied liberties and gross mismanagement by the Gaddafi family and their friends.

The British government’s involvement with Libya specifically is not one which we can be particularly proud of, especially under the Labour government of Tony Blair. In 2004 Europe decided to reintegrate Gaddafi into the world community of favoured leaders, there was even a hug between Blair and Gaddafi, something which will not be forgotten by the National Transition Council of Libya today.

This hug not only betrayed the Libyans, but the Britons who were killed by Libyan funded terrorism. The families of those who died at Lockerbie in 1988 had the pain of seeing the plane bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, released by the Scottish authorities. His implication was confirmed later by the Libyan ex Minister of Justice Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil who stated in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Expressen that Gaddafi had personally ordered the bombing and that al-Megrahi was Guilty.

The Libyan government was also implicated in the death of Pc Yvonne Fletcher and of supplying the I.R.A with semtex explosives which were used to deadly ends in many bombings on British soil. In defence of the British government, Oliver Miles, UK ambassador to Libya in 1984, stated that opening discourse with Libya ‘made the situation slightly less bad,’ with ‘realistic,’ diplomacy being at the forefront of reconciliation.  The fact that the ‘country continued to exist,’ in Miles’s words show that the British were trying to engage the dictator in some way and not excluding him from dialogue, which can often be more dangerous.

What is more worrying for Britain is the fact that we integrated key men In Gaddafi’s inner circle into ours. Saif al-Islam, one of Gaddafi’s sons, studied for his PHD at the London School of Economics. This would have been unacceptable on its own, however he also pledged 1.5m to this establishment, money plundered from the Libyan people.

Furthermore, his PHD was partly ghost written for a fee and then read over by several leading academics, including Southampton University’s own Professor in International Relations, Anthony Mcgrew. Appalling?

Although the jubilations throughout the Arab world have been warming, we cannot rest now. Throughout the Middle East there are still dictators who deny their people basic rights. As we have seen with Egypt and Libya, the population of these countries can determine their future – going against the idea that the Arab world is devoid of Democracy.

The people themselves are the tool of freedom, just as in Burma today and in Eastern Europe twenty years ago during the fall of Communism. However the involvement of European and American politics in this part of the world cannot be overstated either. The Arabs cannot lift the weight of dictatorships without the force of Western power, because in many cases it is our governments who still continue to support these same dictators.

For example, we have close ties with Omar Al Bashir, President of the Sudan who is wanted for crimes against humanity – surely this is somebody we should cut all ties with? King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian ruler who denies basic human rights and democracy in his country, another dictator who has the West enthralled (possibly because of that dirty word, oil). Lastly (but not the last of the region) is Bashar Al Assad of Syria. Lately his forces have been violently clamping down on protesters and army deserters throughout his country.

Here countries such as Russia say they will veto any attempt by the UN to intervene, while the rhetoric of Western politicians has been, at best, mild. Especially for somebody who has ordered the slaughter of his own people.

For Libya today, the situation can be likened to a new dawn, however there is still a long road ahead before a stable egalitarian state is set up. This author, along with many throughout the world, is happy that there are people willing to take their freedom into their own hands, and that the Libyan people have done this. We observe what the fledging democracy will emerge into in the next few years.

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