Libya died with Gaddafi. The people of Libya have never been worse off.
One Mahommed, a 31 year old Libyan spoke words that largely resonated with the general feeling in his country. He said, “I joined the revolution in the first days and fought against Gaddafi. Before 2011, I hated Gaddafi more than anyone. But now, life is much, much harder, and I have become his biggest fan.” The country has seen a five-fold increase in the cost of food, unpaid salaries for months, the rise of Islamic State terror and worsening electricity black-outs. Nothing improved after Gaddafi and the country sees it now. Mahmoud, another Libyan added his own words of disappointment in the bitter fruits of the revolution, “We have had seven governments since 2011 and what have they achieved?' The only thing we can see is new dustbins because one of the early governments installed these new large bins across Tripoli. We still point to them and laugh, saying it's the only achievement of the revolution.”
An oil worker named Haroun said getting rid of Gaddafi “was clearly a mistake because we weren’t ready for democracy and we needed support from the international community, which just wasn’t there.” The West was eager to bomb but aborted the mission to restructure and help rebuild the ruins left in the aftermath of the bombings. Libyans were left to figure out a democracy they had not had for more than four decades on their own resulting in numerous groups claiming power using military means. Political activist Fadiel told the Dailymail that although “it should be better than Gaddafi’s time now,” all that remained is “chaos and everyone fighting each other, it’s just a mess.”
Another Libyan who spoke about the country’s situation boldly said, “Libya died with Gaddafi. We are not a nation anymore, we have become just warring groups of tribes, towns and cities. Before, there was just one Gaddafi but now we have six million little Gaddafis.” The country has three governments all unwilling to compromise. There were two governments but another has been imposed on the country by the West through the United Nations. The country is so polarised that a former Libyan diplomat is on record saying, “The country is already divided. We have two governments, two parliaments, two Central banks and two National Oil Companies.”
As if this is not enough, the Islamic State has firmly held the city of Sirte for some time causing fears that this will become the factory of terrorist activity producing hardcore jihadist extremist fighters. The West has however jumped into the fray helping regain some ground from the IS fighters. The latest attack by the United States was an airstrike on the 1st of August. The other powers have been largely secretive about their intervention but a new militant group, Benghazi Defence Brigades killed three French in July 2016.
Former diplomat Abdusalem is not the most objective of characters but the sense of his words is difficult to argue with. He says, “The so-called revolution was lies, all lies. We Libyans did not even know what the word revolution meant. We had been sheltered under Qaddafi for 42 years. It was not Libya's revolution, it was NATO's revolution because they wanted to get rid of Gaddafi.” Though it is a slight exaggeration since some people genuinely wanted Gaddafi out of power, it is true that NATO hijacked the cause and furthered its own ends with no regard for the future of the country. Obama admitted it was no longer an intervention for the right reasons but had become (France’s) Sarkozy and (Britain’s) Cameron’s shit-show.
Cameron was also ruled to be ultimately responsible for the chaos in Libya by a recent report by his country’s legislature. Though NATO says it intervened to protect civilians, Salem, a 26 year old medical student from Tripoli has argued, “Far more people have been killed since 2011 than during the revolution or under 42 years of Gaddafi’s rule combined. We never had these problems under Gaddafi.” It is estimated that there are over 1,700 armed groups which rose as a result of the “revolution”; now politics in Libya cannot be determined by ballots but guns and bombs. The people of Libya have never been worse off. The democracy they hoped for has not come and to add insult to injury, there is no peace and the greatest terrorist organisation of this time is attempting to establish its base in the country. To quote the words of a citizen, “Libya died with Gaddafi”.
Interviews with Libyan citizens were carried out by the Daily Mail.
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