End of Gaddafi, not Libyan crisis
You will hardly find a person worldwide who will miss Colonel Gaddafi. A cruel tyrant who oppressed his people, embarrassed neighbors, supported international terrorism and admitted responsibility for killing of hundreds of passengers over Lockerbie had no friends, only business partners – different at different stages.
His end was the logical completion of his life – painted in rather aggressive colors. Although he proved to be a consistent person, he never left Libya despite many suggestions that he would enjoy his life and remaining millions of dollars somewhere in exile.
The circumstances under which Gaddafi was killed are such that statements of Western leaders about a future democracy in Libya sound at the very least cynical.
Whatever one may think about former Libyan leader, his death most likely means not the end, but a beginning of a real crisis in this North African country. Rebels have been consolidated by a common wish to capture and kill the dictator, and this aim kept them together. Now the most important process will be launched – the struggle for revenues and power in new Libya.
Taking into account a diversified country, which even the highly-experienced Gaddafi could control only by a combination of repressions, sophisticated deals and bribery, prospects look complicated. NATO seems to see killing of the dictator as a final victory and the operation will be completed soon. That might also have different consequences – the necessity to show unity for Western allies was an additional factor of rebels’ integrity which could collapse now.
The most vital question for months and years to come is whether or not Libya, in its previous form, will survive. The negative scenario for this country is not Iraq with civil war after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, but Somalia, which de facto ceased to exist after the collapse of Siad Barre’s dictatorship.
The global political lessons of Libyan campaign are discouraging. Principles matter no more, and “values” turned to be sometimes an instrument of mercantilist goals, sometimes refuge for Western politicians, when they do not understand what is going on. The UNSC served as a cover for something which has nothing to do with international justice. The level of hypocrisy and lies exceeded the usual political norm. The struggle for contracts may destroy unity among Europeans – both France and Italy assume that their oil companies should play leading role in the new Libya. The UK would naturally also like to get piece of trophy.
Whether the Libyan operation will serve as a prototype of future interventions remains to be seen. There are doubts about that. If NATO allies needed more than half a year to remove a peripheral dictator without any serious military force, what may happen in a country which is better-prepared for fight?
But the main message sent to all by the Western reaction to the Arab Spring has been received. There is no such notion as loyalty anymore. You might be personal friend with important Western leaders (Tunisia’s Ben Ali), staunch ally in decades (Egypt’s Mubarak) or deeply integrated business partner (Gaddafi’s family) – it doesn’t matter. You will not hear a word of support or gratitude if things do not go well. Let us believe that it means justice.
Fyodor Lukyanov is Editor–in–Chief of Russia in Global Affairs magazine (since 2002), member of the Valdai Discussion Club.
This article was originally published by Russia Today