Once more there was to be no trial, no judgment. Over the last five years the scenario in the Arab world seems to be the same. Over and over again, the same confusion, the same dramatic end. Saddam Hussein, Usama bin Laden and Qaddafi were killed without a fair trial, no judge or jury brought down a verdict, in the most undignified manner. Saddam Hussein was hanged the day of the Muslim festival (after a parody of a trial) and his execution was filmed by mobile phone camera. Usama bin Laden was assassinated unarmed with no image to prove his fate. Qaddafi was caught alive, beaten and then executed, with hundreds of people around him taking pictures of his blood-covered face. They were laughing, shouting and even dancing while tearing at his hair and twisting his head to prove it was indeed he. One wonders at this pitiful sight where our humanity has gone. Qaddafi was a tyrant and a dictator, no doubt about it. But as a living human being he had the right to be judged and once dead, his body should have been protected and respected. The coverage of his capture and death and the comments made about him were inhumane, insane, revolting. I did not like Qaddafi ; I hated the way his killers—near and far—behaved.
We now know part of the story. He was trying to escape from Sirte with a group of followers when NATO forces located and bombed them. The French forces leading the operation were able to stop the convoy and thereby help Qaddafi’s opponents capture him. This was the image of the Libyan uprising : without NATO, the opposition to Qaddafi would not have succeeded. A critical question remains to be answered : what role will foreign influence play in Libya’s future ? How disturbing to see the Presidents and Prime Ministers, from Nicolas Sarkozy to Barack Obama and David Cameron—who were openly dealing with Qaddafi until last year—greet his death while trying to persuade the public that they had always supported democrats and democracy. In the intoxication of victory there is no shame in profaning the dead, no shame in lying to the living. Libya is under control, they say. But who is controlling Libya ?
The National Transitory Council (NTC) cannot be trusted. It is led by a former minister in Qaddafi’s regime thought to have had secret connections with American intelligence well before the rebellion. Other high-ranking members of the NTC were also involved in the previous regime, some from the army ; some from the Libyan intelligence while others were even identified as extremists. However, it is quite clear that if the NTC received such quick support from the West and the United Nations, it is because the key actors were known to them and because they had received assurances that their interests would be protected. The presence of French, British, American and Turkish leaders in Tripoli, before even the capture of Qaddafi confirms that they were right.
The NTC seems today to have the situation under control—but numerous questions remain unanswered. So much contradictory information is coming from the NTC (about secret agreements with the West, the capture of certain individuals, and even its successes on the ground) and so much inhumane treatment has been witnessed during the fighting (especially against African immigrants), that there is every reason to question the future of Libya as a state founded on transparency and democratic values.
Qaddafi is dead. Libyan people have been shouting and celebrating. A page of a dark era has been turned. Yet the revolution is far from complete. A quick look at Iraq, Egypt or Syria is enough to convince us that powerful economic and geostrategic interests are at play, and that the countries involved are far from autonomous. Libya will be no exception : the United States and the European countries will not let the new regime use its oil resources to develop a dynamic of South-South solidarity in North Africa. Libya is now at a critical juncture ; the coming months and years will show whether we have witnessed a revolution in the region or a cynical redistribution of alliances. So indebted are its new leaders to the West that it seems quite impossible to hope for a truly independent future. Such controlled democracies are far from democracies ; the way towards complete and real liberation is still filled with challenges.
Watching the images of Qaddafi dead and mistreated was a sad experience. Reading the media coverage and listening to some Western and even Arab leaders celebrating his death and congratulating the Libyans was even more disturbing. Were they celebrating because the dictator was dead or because the road was henceforth open for new strategies of control to be implemented ? What was supposed to be a march toward freedom today looks more and more like a path leading to future troubles and new kinds of servitude.