24 Jul 2011

We, Libyans, decide


The sign behind her reads : Thanks France. As I was taking a photograph of it, a woman came up to me in Benghazi's version of Tahrir Square and said : "We are all Sarkozy". I said : "Oh really? What do you think of Sarkozy suggesting that Gaddafi resigns but stays in Libya?" She did not even think for a minute before she said : "No No.. That is none of Sarkozy's business. Gaddafi's fate is our business, us, the Libyan people".



Another lady hurried towards me to say : "We thank the US and France for what they are doing. But they have no say here in things. They should just give us the air cover we need to march to Tripoli. We Libyans will do it ourselves. We shall liberate Libya from the tyrant and we Libyans shall decide his fate".


Foreign ground troops are out of the question for now. Signs in many parts of Benghazi clearly state they are not welcome. What rebels hope for is to get weapons, aid and money from friendly countries to help them make it to Tripoli. Qatar has already sent two batches of military and humanitarian aid but other countries are yet to do their part.




When I discuss the matter with intellectuals, activists and politicians, the line is not very different to that of ordinary people on the street. They tell me they had no choice, Gaddafi troops were coming to massacre them in Benghazi and the rest of Eastern Libya. 


One of them said to me with sorrow: "Arabs are paralysed, absent and weak. We would have rather seen our Arab brothers come to our rescue instead of France, US and other foreign powers. But we had no choice. We were so relieved to see help come our way. Othewise Muammar was going to crush the revolution and the revolutionaires forever".


Another said : "We had to choose between life and death. We chose what seemed to us the lesser of two evils".

One member of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), the rebels political body, said to me off-the-record that he disagreed with foreign military intervention in principle. "Of course I don't like it and don't encourage it, but this was our only choice. I know NATO comes with its own agenda, I know NATO is calling the shots now. After we get rid of Gaddafi, we will have to deal with the consequences of NATO intervention".


The rebels have actually criticised NATO's performance accusing it of not doing as good a job as it can and of taking too long to achieve goals.  Some believe that Western governments are not happy with the NTC and with some "islamists" among the rebels, therefore they felt that the replacement to Gaddafi's regime was not what they sought, so they delayed Gaddafi's fall until they rearrange things to suit their interests and future plans in Libya.


A prominent military and strategic analyst I spoke to in Egypt, Safwat el Zayat, thought that Obama was using NATO operations in Libya to stress America's major role in NATO and its being the major military power in the world. The US took part in the military operations in the very beginning, then left the matter in the Europeans' hands, knowing they are broke. El Zayat thinks Obama wants to prove to the Europeans and to the world that without America, Europe cannot even topple a Middle Eastern regime. 


So may be America plans to come back for a heroic end of the story when the time comes. It would certainly look like the Europeans are not capable of doing the job without Uncle Sam, even in their own North African "backyard".


Another Libyan journalist said to me : "NATO is using Libya to improve its image in the world, by doing something good. It will leave us alone as soon as we are ready to make it without it".


Of course some NTC members clearly like the US's backing of the fight against Gaddafi and don't see a problem with Libya becoming a partner of the West in the future. They say that Gaddafi had already opened the door anyway.


No matter what the truth may be, it is obvious that Libyans are living a terrible contradiction. But they are now focused on one thing: toppling Gaddafi, even if it meant becoming friends with the same powers that back Israel, bomb civilians in Afghanistan, have killed so many in Iraq, etc. 


Many Libyan revolutionaries are aware of what lies ahead after Gaddafi falls. They say to me : "We are anti-imperialists Dima, we will not allow the imperialists to rule Libya. This revolution is about us becoming free, not falling into another cage".




Another Libyan said to me : "We are pragmatic people. We will carry US flags now for TV cameras and smile. But deep down we still think the same of America. We know who we are dealing with".


One woman in Benghazi's Tahrir Square said to me : "If we can get rid of someone like Gaddafi, we can get rid of anyone, including France, US, Italy or anyone else who might want to control us. We Libyans decide the fate of our Libya".


It may not turn out to be as easily done as it is said. Nobody knows what is being done and planned under the table, what future is being drawn for Libya.


The rebels call themselves freedom fighters.. and it is true, they are indeed freedom fighters. Except that their freedom fight has been "contaminted with foreign hands" - as one Libyan journalist puts it - and has now turned into an international issue discussed by major powers around the world, all thinking undoubtedly of their own goals and interests in the region, while Libyans continue the fight, paying a very hefty price for their long-awaited freedom.


Read more Libya posts 



8 comments:

Vincenzo Fiore said...

Dear Dima,
I am part of a committee organising a "political camp" in Italy in late august/early september: we would like to invite to to participate (in person o via skype) to a workshop about mediterranean revolutions. Do you mind giving us an email address so that we can write you the details?
you can send us a direct message using our twitter account: @_TILT__
or you can use either of the two mails:
tiltcamp(at)gmail.com
vincenzo.g.fiore(at)gmail.com (my personal)
Thank you in advance for your time. Take care,
Vincenzo (for the Tilt camp).

saffo said...

Thank you for posting this! Withink the US left there is a growing pro-Gaddafi sentiment, because of the imperialist US/NATO intervention. I have not been able to find the words, and do not have the knowledge of the situation on the ground, to articulate a critique of this.

Thank you for reminding us that Libyan rebels are smart enough to understand the situation for itself, and make their own decisions about how to navigate between two evils— Gaddafi and NATO.

I would be curious to hear your thoughts on Cynthia McKinney.

~S

saffo said...

Oh, i forgot to mention...

Another thing this brings to mind is the Spanish-American war, and how the US used the pretext of "helping" Cubans liberate themselves from Spanish colonialism as a pretext for colonial domination.

Susana Khalil said...

“We, Libyans, decide”
The Title is an Impeccable euphemism for the new colonial era.
the title is an impeccable fraude who manipulate the human sensibilty in this case: Dignity.
There is no choise for Libyan people, NCT kidnaped our Libyan Revolution …OTAN DECIDES,
Dima you are a Pure talent, congratulation you prepared a good job to justify colonialism. 50.000 deaths, the price for colonialism.

Susana Khalil said...

“We, Libyans, decide”
The Title is an Impeccable euphemism for the new colonial era.
the title is an impeccable fraude who manipulate the human sensibilty in this case ...Dignity.
There is no choise for Libyan people, NCT kidnaped our Libyan Revolution …OTAN DECIDES,
Dima you are a Pure talent, congratulation you prepared a good job to justify colonialism. 50.000 deaths, the price for colonialism.

Susana Khalil said...

Uy.. sorry for the twice message

mensajes claro said...

Wow sounds really interesting @susana khail , What you mention in your comment.

mensajes claro said...

@dima , Thank you for sharing your post