By Shimon Z. Klein,
Bat Hefer

Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, Febr...Image via Wikipedia

Now the unrest has reached Libya. Muammer Qaddafi, Libya’s unpredictable maverick tyrant, whose sanity is questionable, is in deep trouble. His cruelty and autocracy, unchallenged for over 40 years, is now on the firing line.
Qaddafi, the maverick and unchallenged dictator, had maintained a “divide and rule” policy during the years of his rule in order to ensure his rule until his last breath. He had never honed a successor. His country became prosperous (or rather Qaddafi and his family) while the oil wealth never reached the Libyan people, who like in most oil-rich Arab countries, remained in abject poverty.While sweeping changes are occurring all over the Arab world, starting with Tunisia as a result of a poor vegetable vendor and spread like wild fire over the Arab world. Libya was not expected to be on the list as the country is composed of many tribes who are not united as many reports claim. An interesting observation is that Libya has a high literacy rate (For the total population of Libya the literacy rate is about 82.6%. For those that are male the literacy of Libya is about 92.4%, and for female, it is 72% according to the 2003 estimate. Libya has the highest literacy rate in northern Africa) contrary to what one may expect. Education is readily available but the Libyan people have no political or human rights.Qaddafi’s power is under threat and from what we see now his power base is weakening. Many parts of Libya have fallen to the opposition and the price paid by the Libyan people in blood has been high and continues to be so.

Qaddafi’s cruelty knows no bounds. His army and police force have defected to the rebels. Libyan diplomats all over the world are resigning. They refuse to represent the Qaddafi regime. Most have changed allegiance to the opposition. Qaddafi has taken on mercenaries to kill his people. The sight of bound bodies in the streets, shot at point blank range are gruesome.

The UN and the US are slow to react. Even the UN Human Rights Commission is making belated sterile clucking noises about the cruelty perpetrated by Qaddafi. The call for sanctions and no fly zones will take a while to institute. Meanwhile the killings go on unabated. The US is dithering again as it did in Egypt. They are not keen on taking military action as they know that they screw up everything wherever they become involved. Iraq, Afghanistan and even further back in time – Vietnam remains etched in their collective memory. If they botch up again, the Arab world will turn against the US as they have done in the past and Obama seems very sensitive to that possibility. President Obama seems satisfied to utter words of condemnation of Qaddafi and the violence towards the Libyan people and paying lip service to severe sanctions and severing diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, Qaddafi is still holding on to Tripoli while Benghazi and Tobruk have fallen to opposition groups.

Despite the “divide and rule” policy of the Qaddafi regime, the large number of tribes in Libya seems very united in ridding their country of this insane tyrant. The opposition groups are motivated to achieve the removal of Qaddafi from power by force. We all hope that they succeed in their common goal. This common cause of their fight for human rights and equality is the glue that is uniting the Libyan people. It is hoped that this unity will last in the post Qaddafi period which is on their doorstep. The unity of the Libyan people must overcome all tribal differences which may or may not be exaggerated by the press.

The speeches that Qaddafi made were incoherent, lacking in logic and cast great doubts on his sanity. There is nothing worse for any country than having a tyrant who is insane and massacres his people. Qaddafi is a desperate, tyrannical lunatic. He knows that the end of his rule is near. It would be no surprise if he commits suicide when he loses his grip on power.

The situation in Libya is very unstable and many foreign nationals are lining up in their thousands to board the nearest ship or plane for evacuation.

Every Arab state that has been swept up by the uprisings, despite their differences, has much in common. It is the desire for change from the old order of corrupt autocrats. They are fighting for the same goals of freedom, democracy, human rights and employment. The mantra that the West was led to believe by the autocratic dictatorships, that democracy is not suited to Islam and the Arab world is falling apart. All the Arab world uprisings have their sources of information from the youth using Face book and Twitter. (I wonder what Mark Zukerburg, the inventor of Face book, is feeling now. His software programme has changed the Arab world by sparking off revolutions.)

As an Israeli, I think we have a wonderful opportunity to make peace with our Arab neighbors. The opportunity may or may not be fraught with dangers of the unknown. There is room for cautious optimism. The youth are discarding the mantras of their aging autocratic dictatorships. Surely the time has come for us to do the same towards a changing Arab world. Even in Libya, there have been no anti-Israel slogans as was Qaddafi’s habit in the past and present.

Perhaps it is to Israel’s advantage that apart from with Egypt and Jordan, Israel had no diplomatic relations with the old Arab world and its autocratic corrupt leadership. When the Arab world moves towards democracy, Israel has an opportunity to make peace with the Arab people and not corrupt tyrannical regimes as in Egypt and maybe even Jordan.

However, Israel’s right wing government with its total lack of vision for change will not take the plunge and they will continue with their old mantras of occupation and discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens.

As I mentioned in my previous article, there are steps that Israel must take to end her increasing isolation in the Arab world. Israel must decide to negotiate with the Palestinians to freeze settlements in the occupied territories and to end the occupation. Only after doing this will Israel regain her stature in the world. The racial bills that the right wing government of Israel under the patronage of Avigdor Lieberman, are trying to pass into law, must be abolished.

When the Israeli electorate realizes that it is in Israel’s interest to rid their country of this right wing, vision-less, racist government at the ballot box, can we take our rightful place amongst the world of nations with pride rather than being a polecat as we are at present.

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