Libya has many lessons for someone who wills to learn, the first is that as long as the ruler is strong , continues to work for the welfare of the people, he remains beloved and hailed, but if he is deceived by the wealth and gets corrupt, his end approaches
Hamza Jawed Khan : More than 9 years have passed since the first armed clash in Libya; the condition has only worsened from then on. The economy has collapsed, people forced to leave their homes and migrate, no freedom of opinion or expression is guaranteed. Damage and disorder from the war has been considerable. There are frequent electric outages, little business activity, and a loss in revenues from oil by 90%. Over 22,000 people have died from the fighting, and some sources claim nearly a third of the country’s population has fled to Tunisia as refugees, whereas the flow of migrants was in the other direction before a decade. How? Why? When? What happened to the country that has an overwhelmingly flowing oil reserves and riches?
Let’s go back in time to pre-1969 when King Idris ruled Libya, infamous for corruption and western-leaning policies, there was unrest in all the sections of the society; then out of nowhere a charismatic commander appeared from the Libyan army who gathered military support and took over power when Idris was enjoying his summer vacation in Greece. The coup was bloodless, not a single man was killed, the commander addressed the people saying, “People of Libya! In response to your own will, fulfilling your most heartfelt wishes, answering your most incessant demands for change and regeneration, and your longing to strive towards these ends: listening to your incitement to rebel, your armed forces have undertaken the overthrow of the corrupt regime.” There were mass celebrations throughout the country, hailing the new leader Colonel Qaddafi. Little did Qaddafi know at that time, that after 42 years similar celebrations will engulf the country on his assassination.
In the beginning years, Qaddafi proved to be a promising leader working for the welfare of his people and country, Libya claimed literacy rate of 100%, it became the largest oil producer of Africa, the Govt. announced that housing the public was its duty and constructed more than 500,000 homes for the homeless. Loan was given at 0% interest, electricity never went off. Other than his welfare policies, Qaddafi was a nationalist leader who shut down all the foreign military bases in Libya, called for the unity of Arab countries and even signed an agreement with Egypt and Syria that aimed at merging the 3 countries. He loved his public and the public loved him. The per capita income growth was an unbelievable 70% in 1974. Within a decade, per capita income had increased from $1,800 to $14,000.
But power and wealth corrupt even the most pious of men, Qaddafi was no exception, from 1993 his policies underwent a massive change, welfare of the citizens was replaced by the welfare of the family, he replaced the democracy he had established with dictatorship, privatized the major industries, and gifted the oil reserves to his aides and relatives. The public was bewildered; the messiah had turned into devil. Little unrest took place which Qaddafi controlled by force. The conditions continued worsening, prices soared high, unemployment reached a crushing 30%, the per capita started declining. The reports of 2010 were extremely shocking. The growth rate was -54%. The public started loathing the leader they had once hailed. Meanwhile, the Arab spring started in Tunisia in 2011, and spread across the Arab world. In Feb. 2011 The Libyan people came out on streets and clashed with the police and army personnel.
As expected, Qaddafi responded with violence ordering the troops to kill mercilessly, on the 1st day there were 800 fatalities. It appeared as if Qaddafi would suppress the protests successfully, but the public was determined this time; the human rights violations continued and the UNO passed a resolution against the Govt. in May 2011 the NATO forces entered the conflict turning the tables in favor of the protestors. Within a month, Qaddafi fled to his hometown and was soon found and assassinated by the people. The 1st civil war had come to an end and the conditions improved temporarily.
But this wasn’t a fairytale that could have such simple and beautiful ending. Soon, a council was elected for drafting the constitution and running the Govt. for 2 years. The members of the assembly however failed to agree upon even the most fundamental questions. Meanwhile, the militias that had been armed by the NATO for uprooting Qaddafi started attacking and capturing the areas. The military and the police of the interim Govt. had no experience of handling such situations and thus the law and order deteriorated; you can imagine the situation by the event of Prime Minister himself being kidnapped by the armed groups. The failure of the assembly to frame a constitution within 2 years and its failure to secure the citizens against mafias brought it under heavy criticism.
In the end, a militia leader Khalifa Hefter announced elections, the turnout was merely 18% and the elections weren’t recognized by the assembly. Thus, the country was split into 2 regions, the eastern region ruled by the LNA (Libyan National Army) and the western region ruled by the GNA (Government of National Accord). Had this issue remained an internal one, it might have been resolved, but the international community wouldn’t leave such a chance of intervening in an oil rich country. Soon, Russia joined siding with LNA, UAE, Egypt, and Sudan, joined too at the same side. The regions ruled by GNA started shrinking, they invited Turkey to intervene and it complied with the request. Now, the condition grew even more intense and thousands of civilians have fallen victim to the 2nd civil war.
Libya has many lessons for someone who wills to learn, the first is that as long as the ruler is strong continues to work for the welfare of the people, he remains beloved and hailed, but if he is deceived by the wealth and gets corrupt, his end approaches. The public can’t be silenced with police and army forever, a time comes when the entire public is engulfed with the spirit of Do or Die and then the dictators have to kneel before the people. The international interference in the internal matters have done much more harm than good throughout the history, we have the example of Vietnam, Syria, Iraq, etc. that prove the above point. Lastly, bringing a revolution is easier than filling the vacuum of power created by the rebellion. Look at the French revolution, Egyptian revolution, Tunisian revolution, Yemen revolution, etc. in all the above cases, the revolution was successful in overthrowing the rulers but none was able to maintain a sovereign and stable control over the nation. Armed revolutions are thus bad for the ruler and bad for the public, if the ruler rules with affection and empathy and the public corrects the rulers through peaceful methods, both prevail and if not, then History is bound to repeat itself.