When United States secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her short visit to Libya earlier this week, she bluntly said that the US wanted Muammar Gaddafi “captured dead or alive.” The rebels in Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte proved faithful to the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) by capturing him alive and delivering him dead on Thursday.
The fate of the Libyan dictator was predicted like that of Saddam Hussein, with the secrets of their dealings with European countries and the US dying with them. The story of loyalists who turned rebels, too, won’t come to light. And it will be left to academic scrutiny to uncover details of what was a meticulously planned operation for a regime change that rode on the back of social upheaval in many Arab capitals.
Gaddafi has been eliminated, but his clones may be waiting in the wings. After all, deals with western governments were signed even before the transitional council was formed. According to reports, Nato forces bombed Gaddafi’s convoy of 35 vehicles and this allowed the rebels to capture Gaddafi and then shoot him from point-blank range after an order from “a superior”.
The real political war now starts in Libya. Each faction in the divided house will try to get a bigger piece of the cake. After the dissolution of the army and the security apparatus, and after arming the rebels to force their agenda on the people, there will be more bloodshed, which in turn will legitimise a permanent military presence for Nato and the US, thereby making it easier for Nato forces to ‘intervene’ in other countries in the region. The Arab world is going through its most crucial era.
The victory in Libya will be a catalyst for other regime changes conducted under the pretext of ‘humanitarian intervention’. This will finally lead to taking on Iran head-on. To achieve this, Syria is been targeted with the belief that by forcibly removing the regime in Damascus, Iran will be more isolated. Forcing a regime change in Syria, the plan could be to remove the last bastion of secularism in the Arab world and pave the way for a creative anarchy with radicals at its helm. This is in turn could lead to ‘political Islamists’ entering the scene, thereby providing a much-needed justification for a ‘stronger Jewish State’
It will be naïve to reject this scenario. Democracy based on internal unity is the key for a better future; not geopolitical division and internationalising crises to invite foreign intervention in a ground already fertile with sectarian, communal and ethnic strife.
The case of Yemen is getting clearer by the day. The United Nations, the US and the European Union have rejected the call for amnesty or protection for President Ali Abdullah Saleh. This, again, will lead to communal strife and sectarian violence that will require international intervention.
Till now, the US and Nato forces have failed to gain ground in Syria. A Benghazi-like situation would have allowed ‘humanitarian interventionists’ to take the lead. This scenario was averted and the credit for this goes Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa in the Security council. The Syrian people also have become much more aware of the situation after looking at what has happened in Iraq and what is now happening in Libya.
US president Barack Obama promised changes in the Arab and Islamic world in an era of democracy, human rights and prosperity. But all that seems to have become a digression. The general perception among Arabs is that the US still hasn’t learnt any lesson from collaborating with radicals in Afghanistan.
After the Second Gulf War and the ‘liberation of Kuwait’, I was witness to a heated argument between an American and a Kuwaiti immigration officer at the airport. The American wanted special treatment from the officer and told him. “You know, we Americans helped you get your freedom”. The Kuwaiti answered, “We paid you for that.”
It is too early to predict who will rule Libya in the post-Gaddafi era. It is also too early to ascertain what price a new regime will have to pay to their ‘collaborators’. The road map to democracy will face many challenges in the crater-ridden road ahead. Who is next in the Great Arab Domino effect is also hard to predict. But this latest victory for Nato and the US in Libya will clearly increase the appetite to take on a new frontier with the result being West Asia heading towards more anarchy and uncertainty ruling for a long time.
Waiel Awwad is a senior Syrian journalist with the television news channel Al Arabiya
The views expressed by the author are personal.