A decade after the lynching of the Libyan leader, the North African country continues to fight for stability
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“I am ashamed to have become prey, I, Muammar Gaddafi, the black beast of the almighty; I am ashamed to have fled before some brats and run like a madman among fields; I am ashamed to have no choice but to hide in a channel, me tapping a finger on the UN desk to alert presidents and kings. “In her novel ‘The Last Night of the Rais’, Yasmina Khadra imagined the last Brother Guide’s thoughts before he died Between pride and dejection, Gaddafi remembers the time when he “incarnated a nation that brought the powerful of the world to their knees” and then allowed himself to be overcome by fear.
After 42 years of undeniable power, underpinned by brutal and silent repression, in February 2011 the revolution broke out, putting his regime in check. On October 20, ten years ago today, he was discovered by armed groups in full flight, hidden in a sewer in Sirte, his fiefdom. The tyrant who in the novel believed himself “predestined to a sumptuous end” and who during the rebellion promised to hunt down the rebellious “rats” house by house and alley by alley “is captured and lynched to death in a few hours. The opposition militias proclaimed the “liberation” of the country while the satrap’s body was exposed for days lying in a market in Misrata.
The decade that began after the turbulent end of Gaddafi has been built in the image and likeness of the last hours of his dictatorship. Libya is still fighting for stability today, far from responding to the demands of the first protesters who rose up against the regime. Violence and internal divisions, fueled by foreign intervention, have left the country in a difficult situation. A year ago, in October 2020, a ceasefire was reached between the forces of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a ‘strong man’ from the East of the country supported by Russia and Egypt, and the Government established in Tripoli in 2015 under the auspices of the UN and the support of the EU. Shortly after, in February 2021, the factions agreed to create a Government of National Unity (GNU) on a temporary basis, the main objective of which is to lead the country to general elections – scheduled for December 24 – to resolve the political blockade and pacify the bellicose militias that proliferate in Libyan geography.
“The death of Gaddafi at the hands of armed groups that fought against the regime – with foreign support – left two legacies,” he reflects. Claudia Gazzini, senior analyst for Libya at the International Crisis Group, in a telephone interview with EL MUNDO. “On the one hand, it is enough to have the support of foreign countries to achieve your objectives, both political and military, as happened 10 years ago with the support of anti-Gaddafist forces from the US, Qatar, European countries … Now, this tendency to depend on foreign support has not disappeared. It is still very present there and has caused the country to polarize into two fields, “he continues.
“The second legacy left by the assassination of Gaddafi is that there is no need to reconcile with the regime, it is not necessary to open negotiations to reform the country but only to establish a course of action and pursue it to the end. That is to say, that there is no need to establish commitments or negotiate with the enemy, “adds the expert, underlining a characteristic that defines today’s Libya.
For Gazzini, the instability that the country has been experiencing for a decade has been chiseled by the collapse of the governmental structure of the Gaddafi state and by foreign intervention. “Libya is the reflection of a changing geopolitics in the region, defined by the tension between the coalition that groups Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, on the one hand, and the alliance between Qatar and Turkey, on the other” drawn in terms ideological across a dividing line around the Muslim Brotherhood and having a battlefield in Libya.
This tension remains latent, despite the ceasefire and the unification of the Government. “The situation has progressed significantly compared to three years ago, when the country was divided into two governments, two military coalitions and two central banks. But the tension between both camps, east and west, persists and so do the blocs formed abroad. “Gazzini analyzes. The former political advisor to the UN special envoy for Libya, Ghasan Salame, between 2017 and 2018, sees the December elections as a positive step: “Without elections, Libya cannot turn the page.” Although it recognizes that they entail “the risk of increasing instability, because Libya has all the reasons not to celebrate them: proliferation of armed militias, polarization, instability, corruption.” It is the curse of the ‘rais’.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism