When Libyan rebels went to Bab al-Azizia in Tripoli last week, questions were raised about the success of the Libyan revolution. Is the Libyan revolution considered a victory? Would this victory have occurred without the help of NATO? Did the involvement of NATO undermine the uprising?
After Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's reign collapsed, there was a strong belief among Arab leaders that the collapse of additional Arab leaders should be avoided. Evidence of this is that the Arab leaders have encouraged their brothers to fight against their people. No one among the Arab leaders has yet made a declaration regarding the right of the people to demonstrate. Not even the Arab League said a word about that.
Everything they do and say is to support one another’s oppressive power. But this power was diminished by the people’s pursuit of freedom, justice and dignity. It is because of this that authority launched its “killing machine” against its people, its own citizens. Because they were “killing their own people,” the country became demonized and, in order to uphold “the right to protest,” NATO stepped in.
"With this revolution, Arabs have become more progressive and aggressive, and they have a greater chance of gaining the power they need to exact the changes they seek – something that was not a part of the previous framework of Arab politics."
The Libyan revolutionists and protestors who collaborated with NATO had no weapons and were armed with only flags, pictures and their words. Qaddafi’s militias went to Benghazi, and all along the way, they destroyed all the homes, killed all the men and bombed every car they encountered. However, when NATO operations began, Qaddafi's militias went back to Tripoli. If Qaddafi's militias had gone into the city, there would have been genocide in Benghazi; and, that is out of the question, because it has happened before.
This scenario is not novel. Syria encountered the same thing decades ago. Bashar al Assad's father performed genocide in the 1980s in Hama (a big educational city in Syria). He killed about 25,000 people in mere days. There were people who demanded reform, but the response was to kill them all. Now, the son wants to do the same thing. He found this challenging, however, because of the new media landscape; new political pressures; and with people who, even though they know they may be killed, will speak out, because they recognize that sometimes change requires sacrifices as great as death.
For Libya, it can be argued that this is not a real victory, because it was not won by the people alone but also by the efforts of foreigners (NATO). There was no other way, however, to protect people or to fight against Qaddafi and his criminals. Yes, people should take the power by themselves and through their own means, but they had no power, no weapons, no nothing, until NATO provided the rebels with military supplies. I'm afraid, however, that if NATO remains in Libya, there will be a civil war between the revolutionists and the people who side with Qaddafi. This war will happen if NATO supports or provides weapons to the rebels. It is still too early, though, to make any judgments regarding the Arab revolution, in general, and the Libyan revolution, specifically, as its success it yet to be determined.
Even though the revolution could be over at anytime, and people could give up fighting against their rulers, Arabs became more aware of the political and economic situations that envelop them. With this revolution, Arabs have become more progressive and aggressive, and they have a greater chance of gaining the power they need to exact the changes they seek – something that was not a part of the previous framework of Arab politics. And, because of the revolution, Arabs who used to kiss their leaders' pictures are now burning them. They used to swear and pledge to the leaders, and now they curse them.
Imagine that people in Syria, for example, are not calling for death to Ba'ath (the regime party), which is an act that would be punished immediately by death, but for death to Assad, specifically. In Syria, as in Libya, the people don't face soldiers – they face tanks. What should the people do? Stay home? If they did and this authority is still in power, they will be punished. These leaders are without mercy. So, people began fighting and they will continue until the death, until the regime is gone.
These people should be armed to face the state militias. The state army is set against its people (Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Iranians, etc.). If there are means of protecting the people, other than through NATO invention, then those would be carried out. These people need to be protected, because they are civilians and they are not armed.
NATO is an occupational proposition and colonial notion, but there is no way to solve the problem without its help. I wish the revolution could be conducted in a more peaceful manner, as it was in Egypt or Tunisia. But, unfortunately, Arab leaders fight against reform and against their people. Arab leaders will fight to stay in power, not by people’s choice, but by force. They established their armies to stay with them and to not defend the people or the country.
Anas Alahmed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.