Libya — the first real victory in the Arab Awakening?

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To all those who argued that NATO’s involvement would irredeemably taint the Libyan revolution, here’s an idea that could be too much to wrap your mind around.

Look at the ongoing struggle in Syria, the brutally crushed revolution in Bahrain, the unfinished revolution in Egypt and then consider this possibility: Libya may turn out to be the first Arab country that really gets a fresh start.

No doubt it will be messy and who’s to say where it might lead, but Libya now appears to be on the brink of getting a chance to rebuild itself not only free from a dictatorial hand but also free from the regime through which that hand extended its power.

It might not quite all be over — Gaddafi’s death, departure or capture will be the final act — but the idea that Gaddafi’s supporters formed one side in a civil war looks flimsier than ever. MSNBC reports:

Libyan rebels moved into the capital Tripoli on Sunday and came within two miles of the city center, as Moammar Gadhafi’s defenders melted away. The rebel leadership said Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent Seif al-Islam has been arrested.

Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they met little resistance as they moved from the western outskirts into the capital in a dramatic turning of the tides in the 6-month-old Libyan civil war. The rebels took control of one neighborhood, Ghot Shaal, on the western edge of the city. They set up checkpoints as rebel trucks rolled into Tripoli.

One of the rebels, Mohammed al-Zawi, 30, said he was in a convoy of more than 10 trucks that entered Ghot Shaal. He said they progressed as far as the neighborhood of Girgash, about a mile and a half from Green Square, where Gadhafi supporters have gathered nightly throughout the uprising to rally for their leader of more than 40 years.

He said the rebels came under fire from a sniper on a rooftop in the neighborhood.

“They will enter Green Square tonight, God willing,” al-Zawi said.

Sidiq al-Kibir, the rebel leadership council’s representative for the capital Tripoli, confirmed the arrest of Seif al-Islam to the AP but did not give any further details.

Earlier, Gadhafi said he will stay in Tripoli “until the end” and called on his supporters around the country to help liberate the capital from a rebel offensive.

He said in an audio message played over state television he was “afraid that Tripoli will burn” and he said he would provide weapons to supporters to fight off the rebels.

Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they reached the Tripoli suburb of Janzour around nightfall Sunday. They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags. Hours earlier, the same rebel force of hundreds drove out elite forces led by Gadhafi’s son Khamis in a brief gunbattle.

The elated fighters danced and cheered, hauling off truckloads of weapons and advanced full speed toward the capital in pickup trucks. Ahmed al-Ajdal, 27, a fighter from Tripoli, was loading up a truck with ammunition.

“This is the wealth of the Libyan people that he was using against us,” he said, pointing to his haul. “Now we will use it against him and any other dictator who goes against the Libyan people.”

NATO called the situation in Libya “very fluid” on Sunday as rebel fighters streamed into the capital Tripoli, and said the rule of Gadhafi was “crumbling.”

How could the rebels make such a rapid advance? Because Gaddafi loyalists eventually realized they were supporting a lost cause. They have nothing to fight for.

What now? Are Libyans about to create a Western-friendly liberal democracy? No one in Washington or the other NATO capitals has the faintest idea. And that’s the point.

All those who see the heavy hand of Western imperialism shaping events have a distorted perception of how much power the US and the West are really able to exert. Sure, there’s no limit on how much power they want to exert, but at the end of the day their power has very real limits and as we will see, Libya’s future will be determined by the people on the ground — not those in the sky.

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7 thoughts on “Libya — the first real victory in the Arab Awakening?

  1. pangloss

    You are some what of a dreamer aren’t you. Oh well I guess it’s good to still have a few around.

  2. Jason

    If the Libyan people can resist and overcome the vicious 40 year year rule of the Qaddafi regime, they can also resist the West’s power. The point is that it is now up to them to decide for themselves.

  3. keith blown

    “All those who see the heavy hand of Western imperialism shaping events have a distorted perception of how much power the US and the West are really able to exert. Sure, there’s no limit on how much power they want to exert, but at the end of the day their power has very real limits and as we will see, Libya’s future will be determined by the people on the ground — not those in the sky”
    Seriously? Whistle past the graveyard much?

  4. Colm O' Toole

    Please, the situation in Libya is that a madman has fallen from power and has been replaced instead by a group of thieves from the LTC.

    Now comes the theft of Libya.

    This perception that Western imperialists “don’t really have control over events” is stunning. I say that based on the history of involvement in the colour revolutions across Eurasia from Ukraine in the Orange Revolution, to Georgia in the Rose Revolution, to Krygyzstan in the Tulip Revolution.

    I personally consider this to be a genius form of regime change after the Iraq fiasco and wrapping up regime change in the form of “revolutions” has proven extremely effective. The Guardian had a good piece discussing how the US engineered the colour coded revolutions back in 2004.

    Of course when you look at the result of all three revolutions you see that in all cases it has led to bad results and the opposite of what revolutions are supposed to achieve (namely the entrenchment of business interests with power). In Ukraine, Georgia and Krygyzstan all have suffered worse under the Pro-US leaders.

    Ukraine in 2010 reelected the Pro-Russian Yanukovych by almost 80% who was removed in the 2005 “revolution” in what Ukrainians now call “the orange nightmare”. In Krygzstan Bakiyev after seizing power gave the US a military base, cut alot of deals for himself and allies and murdered opponents. Also in 2010 he was removed by a second revolution and fled the country with 300 million dollars. And everyone knows the history of Mikael Saakashvilli in Georgia, the neo-cons favourite puppet.

    There is a clear pattern from the looting of Russia in the mid-90’s to the color revolutions in 2003-2005, to the NATO sponsored regime change in Libya today. Anyone who thinks these rebels are revolutionaries needs to look closely at who is who.

  5. Observer

    Colm, well said that man, well said.

    Pretty much like you, I predict —

    1. A joyful few weeks, in which we see dancing in the streets, firing off of machine gun clips, and shouting for joy.

    2. Soon enough, that joy will turn to a terrorising of communities, as looting and murder on the streets kicks off, and old scores are settled in the most terrifying ways. Then, inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife, which may well have been boiling under the surface anyway, will be — intentionally — whipped up and made worse by agent provocateurs from USA/UK and other Muslim ‘nationalists’, opportunists, looking to cash in, and plain old gangster groups from all around the local areas and the region, will join in. It will pretty much be the same as what took place in Iraq (and is still taking place). See Nir Rosen’s ‘Aftermath’ book for the full details.

    3. All the while, UK, USA, France and assorted lackeys , hangers-ons, and bloodsuckers will do all they can to whip up more sectarian/ethnic /religious hate — it provides the perfect ‘shock doctrine’ state of mind, so good for mass plundering of resources and destabalising.

    4. In the above stages, US/UK/France will try to put in their own kind of ‘good’ leaders — Arabs who don’t have beards, wear Western suits and ties , who they will try to make us trust, and see as ‘the good ones’, but what the Western leaders overlook in these ‘selection of good Arabs’ is that they just look so unimpressive — they don’t have beards, they don’t look like Islamists, they don’t make common cause with Palestine ( all good in our leaders’ book of course ) but, they DO typically have devious, shifty eyes, they have a devious , untrustworthy snake like cunning ‘what is in it for me’ criminal expression, pot bellies, and cheap ties, none of which convinces anyone, Western or Arab. Within months, these puppet Arabs disappear with stolen loot, or get knocked off anyway…

    5. The next stage is less certain than it was in Iraq, but still highly likely — the problem will be made worse, by hundreds of thousands who will stream out of Libya, refugees who have seen murder, rape, beheadings, looting, destruction, and ended up disoriented, weakened, poverty stricken, and then they cause further confusion elsewhere when these wretched lost souls end up as dysfunctional and lost immigrants in their new communities in Europe that will certainly not welcome them.

    6. Some years later, their country turned into a satanic hell, and apocalyptic desert, the Libyans will be saying: “Oh, Ghadaffi, well, he wasn’t perfect you know, some hated him… but …he was so much better than the chaos Libya has now…”

    7. And the comment pages of all the Western papers will be full of regretful, finger pointing, accusing people, sagely wondering how they could have ever supported the rebels/NATO’s take over…

    So — thanks for that NATO…

    Great job…

  6. Susan

    oh, Libya will get a “fresh start” alright – a ticket to hell….. this will not end quickly and it will not end well.

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