Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXIV

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What could be some formidable challenges that the Transitional National Council (TNC) will be facing in the post-Qadhafi Libya? These may be about the issues relating to Libyan opposition s own legitimacy and the sheer absence of democratic institutions in the desert country of North Africa. Not only are there some more burning questions, there are numerous thought-provoking perspectives on the current Libyan situation.

Writing for The Independent, Patrick Cockburn raises a very important question as rebels take over Qadhafi s compound in Tripoli: No one doubts that Gaddafi has lost. The question is: who has won? An article carried by the same newspaper raises another profound question: Rebels claim the victory - but did the Brits win it?

Speaking to Ammy Goodman of US-based TV network Democracy Now, Phyllis Bennis of Institute for Policy Studies explains her latest piece Qaddafi s Whereabouts Unknown-But Is It Too Soon to Declare Victory in Libya? at AlterNet and answers many other questions particularly those relating to the evolving situation in Libya.

According to Bennis, the author of Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy US Power and many other books, the role of Nato, the US, Qatar, the outside forces that have been involved, both directly and indirectly, both funding and training the Libyan opposition, and, on the part of the US and other Nato forces, acting as, as one reporter described it, the air force of the opposition s army, has reshaped the reality that began in the context of the Arab Spring as an indigenous Libyan uprising against a 42-year dictatorship. Now it s very unclear whether what is happening is more in the interests of the people of Libya or more in the interests of Nato, the US and other outside powers.

She points out that the TNC has been recognised now by 43 different countries, including the US and most European countries, as the legitimate representative of Libya at a time when it s not clear how much legitimacy it has inside the country.

According to her, the footage of celebrations on the streets of some parts of Tripoli showed celebrations by the armed rebels who, according to her, had entered the city coming down from the mountain. They were not the civilian population welcoming in the rebels and celebrating with them in the street. Some of that may have been fear. We know that many civilians inside Tripoli are trying to leave. But the result is, you have a situation where we don t really know what the population of Tripoli, which amounts to a third the population of the country, what they think. We saw no women on the streets. There were no civilians, no old people, no children celebrating. These were armed rebels with their weapons, holding their weapons above their heads as they celebrated entry into the capital. This is not yet the people of the capital coming out to join them.

According to her, [t]he access to oil contracts was very much a part-it wasn t the only part, but it was one part-of the reasons that this war went ahead. It wasn t directly a war for oil, in the sense that the US and European oil companies, all these international companies that you just mentioned, already were in bed with the Gaddafi regime. They were already giving-getting enormous access to Libyan oil. So it wasn t simply to get access. It was in recognition that there was a change under way. . . . Now, the question of making sure that in a future-in a future Libya that is assumed, perhaps prematurely, but perhaps will be a post-Gaddafi Libya, they want to position themselves in a way to get continuing access to those oil contracts. It s not about access to the oil itself. That will be on a global market. It will be part of it. It s about control. It s about controlling the terms of those contracts. It s about controlling amounts that are being pumped at different times. It s about controlling prices. It s about controlling that crucial resource.

She believes Qadhafi still remains a very key player. [G]addafi did not create, in his revolutionary process, when he took power in the 60s at the very young age of only 27-he did not create an entirely new system of governing. It was-it was odd. It was something he called green socialism. But it was a system that was denied the reality of acknowledging there was a system. There were no real institutions. There was no parliament. There was no voting. Representational democracy was considered inherently flawed. The idea was everybody in the country could vote by raising their hands or something. The result was, Gaddafi never had an official title other than Brother Leader or Colonel sometimes. He wasn t officially the president. There was no presidency. So, the institutions of governance never really existed.

That s one of the things that is such a challenge and is going to be an even greater challenge in the future for the anti-Gaddafi forces, the opposition forces that are struggling to take power now in Libya, even aside from the problem they will face with the dominance of Nato and other outside military forces. They are facing a situation where you have a country of about six-and-a-half million people with no national structures in place. In that situation, Gaddafi, as the centerpiece, becomes crucially important as a symbol of the nation. He becomes Libya. And so, his role is far from over, despite what Nato may like to believe.

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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