Lybia’s liberation

A vague and bizarre adventure

Rod Liddle, in the latest Spectator, raises the ill ease that many of us already had on our lips a couple of months ago over the sudden enthusiasm in the West, and its Left media, for the overthrow of Middle eastern tyrants and support for these new revolutionaries of democracy. It started with the sudden vilification of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and has now ended in a warm barracking for the rebels in Lybia, but with extraordinary confusion and ambiguities.

You can hear it on the rolling news channels, the reporters and presenters beside themselves with delight that here is a war which is apparently ‘just’, and therefore each detonation is something in which we can exult. A war not against people, like wars usually are, but against only one man who nonetheless, paradoxically, everyone is agreed the war isn’t really against, because it’s not about regime change. So in other words it’s a war against nobody, just against something bad, something we can all get behind.

But all this grass roots democracy is itself ambiguous. In a recent interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi, the Lybian rebel commander who has admitted he had earlier fought against “the foreign invasion” in Afghanistan, before being “captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan”,  admitted his fighters in Lybia have al-Qaeda links.

He admitted that he had recruited “around 25” men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq.

Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but added that the “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.

His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, “including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries”.

But worse, in this same article, the following observations were reported:

Earlier this month, al-Qaeda issued a call for supporters to back the Libyan rebellion, which it said would lead to the imposition of “the stage of Islam” in the country.
British Islamists have also backed the rebellion, with the former head of the banned al-Muhajiroun proclaiming that the call for “Islam, the Shariah and jihad from Libya” had “shaken the enemies of Islam and the Muslims more than the tsunami that Allah sent against their friends, the Japanese”.

Liddle, in his Spectator article, summarizes the confusion:

We are either colluding in, or perpetuating, or sustaining — take yer pick — a civil war which may result in the partition of the country, or a partial victory for Gaddafi or, the best possible case, a new government which, I predict, will be about as democratic as any other in the Middle East (barring Israel), and probably even less stable.



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