Well, a historic night. It’s hard to believe that this chapter in the Libyan history book has arrived. I have followed Libya over the year. From the first demonstrations on Feb 15 (yup, not 17!) following the arrest of the lawyer that defended the families of those killed in the Abu slim prison massacre (it was competing about attention with Bahrain that week).
The first beliefs that Gaddafi would retire after three speeches the way Mubarak and Ben Ali did. And then the push back of the rebels that had been knocking on Tripoli’s door, all the way back to Benghazi. The fear of a new Sarajevo siege in Benghazi as the world’s focus was directed towards Japan. The death of Muhammed Nabbous just days before euforic crowds celebrated and waved French and Qatari flags when the UN so surprisingly passed the resolution.
I don’ t have a tv. My computer is too slow to stream al-Jazeera and the al-Jazeera app is no longer working on my HTC (which recently broke anyway). I will watch the historic pictures on youtube tomorrow.
So, where is The Man? It may be out already when I wake up in a few hours, but I doubt the rumours about an exile in Tunisia. How on earth would that work with a people that just tried it’s own deposed dictator in absentia? The friends are few, but maybe an African country (with Chavez’ Venezuela being distracted by the leader’s cancer treatment). Maybe, though I am sceptical, Algeria. In a historic move the Arab league did support Nato intervention in Libya after all.
Each new ousted leader narrows the eile options for the following ones – who wants another hot potato in their own back yard? BOTH Tunisia’s Ben Ali AND Saleh of Yemen are currently in Saudi Arabia, a country that is an ally of of the Nato member USA that bombed Libya. A fourth arab leader in the same country? No.
Libya has for years given aid to Sub Saharan African countries such as for example Malawi. Many of the mercenaries in Gadaffis troups have been of southern African origin (as well as many innocent migrants). Gadaffi has (coinciding with making himself unpopular with Arab leaders) remodeled himself into the King of Kings of Africa (Malek el molouk).
And what does this mean for the rest of region? A great deal. There are already promises tonight by the NTC (National Transitional Council) that political turbulence will be avoided, that a transition plan is set, that there will be reconciliation, organisation and everything else that ends with -ion. Imagine a “post-ousted-arab-leader-handbook”!
The Tunisians have been leading the way, being the first ones trembling in the darkness on the unknown path, followed usually, after one month, by Egypt. This is revolution number three. Authoritarian leaders may learn from previous uprisings (silence media early on, use violence from the start), but so do activists such as S.N.N and, probably, each new transitional council that takes over after a fallen leader.
What now? Where does the focus shift? Well partly to the country that neighbours Libya and Tunisia (but that has seen a civil war still in too fresh a memory). But more so, with all due respect to Yemen and Bahrain, I agree with the majority of tweeos tonight that believe we are moving east.
The Levant is boiling. Syria has – for a long time in the shadow of Libya . witnessed an uprising since March, that will no longer compete about the attention that Libya got as soon as Nato said “I do”. (An interesting paper here: “Why Net Censorship in Times of Political Unrest Results in More Violent Uprisings“). And Israel sees thousands of demonstrators demanding change, holding signs reading “Walk Like an Egyptian”; while at the same time Egyptians are angered by bombings of Gaza and killed Egyptian border soldiers – and cheering an Egyptian flag replacing the Israeli one at the embassy in Cairo.
The Arab Spring started with Ben Ali, though less known, one of the most brutal leaders in the Arab World. @ibnkafka ones described Tunisia as “The North Korea of the Arab World”. It moved on to a “stable” US and Israel ally – Egypt. Few thought that the world would interfer with Gaddafi but it – UN, Arab league – did! (Reluctantly and in the 11th hour, but nevertheless).
So many countries have an interest in Syria. That is where “we” are going next.
Ny blogposts on Libya during this year (place mouse over headline for one-line summary):
February 21 – “#According2Saif”
March 22 – “In memoriam of “Mo””
March 23 – Checklist: How To Deal With People That Annoyingly Ask For Democracy
March 24 – “Damned if you don’t – damned if you do”
March 28 (Swedish) – ““Medierna” i P1 om libyske hjälten Mo”
April 15 (Swedish) – “Äntligen uppmärksammas Misrata!”
April 16 – “After 54 days Misrata is finally focused upon”
May 1 – “So – who killed Saif?”
May 1 – “Another report from Misrata“