FIVE years after Libya’s long time leader Muammar Gadaffi was cold-bloodedly murdered right in front of mobile phone cameras and with the full backing of the Western nations participating in the 2011 military campaign against Libya, Russia’s Sputnik International has talked to Abdel Baset bin Hamel, a journalist who was close to the late Libyan leader.
He said: ‘The reforms in education, health care and infrastructure Muammar Gadaffi carried out in Libya for 43 years will forever remain part of this country’s history. The current crisis results from the fact that the changes, which have been taking place here since 2011, are implemented by foreigners and with international support.
‘All this has been the work of the great powers pursuing their own goals,’ Abdel Baset bin Hamel said. He added that in 2011 everyone was talking about protecting the people’s rights and that a pertinent resolution adopted by the UN Security Council allowed 43 countries to use military force to topple Gadaffi and his government.
‘The fact that the large-scale military operation against Libya was not meant to solve the crisis is fully evident now that people in Sirte and Benghazi are being slaughtered like cattle and billions of dollars have been stolen from the Libyan people,’ Abdel Baset bin Hamel said.
He added that the 2011 Western military operation was meant to get rid of Gadaffi, not to solve the country’s problems. ‘Gadaffi was the only one who pitched the idea of a united Africa and a single African army. Back in those days, Libya was the most independent country in the region, but the big powers, led by the US, got a pretext for “protecting civilians and spreading democracy” in Libya.
‘They used the young Libyans’ legitimate demands for better living conditions and new jobs to stoke up the conflict and Hillary Clinton was actively involved in the Western effort to topple Gadaffi,’ Abdel Baset bin Hamel noted. It was not a revolution we had in Libya, it was a national catastrophe that has turned Libya into a failed state,’ he added.
Abdel Baset bin Hamel said that Muammar Gadaffi had managed to avoid the problems Libya is facing today because he was perfectly aware of his country’s specifics and the nature of relations existing between its various tribes. ‘We had no conflicts within our society and tribes and between our political factions. Gadaffi always managed to find a compromise to keep the nation together under one flag.
‘He was a born leader and this is how people viewed him, rather than a top-level official. A real phenomenon, that’s what he was,’ Abdel Baset bin Hamel said in conclusion.
Meanwhile, the same state of chaos Libya has been living through since Gadaffi’s murder is now evident also in Mali where French troops are currently deployed as part of Operation Barkhane, which Prime Minister Manuel Valls has promised will continue as long as it takes to eliminate the ‘Jihadist threat’.
In January 2013, less than a month after his election, French President Francois Hollande launched Operation Serval to halt the southwards advance of Islamist insurgents in Mali. French media were quick to notice a direct link between Gadaffi”s fall in Libya and an increased flow of arms to jihadist militants in Mali.
Many experts believed that the arms had come from the armouries of the fallen Libyan leader. In an interview with Sputnik France, retired Brigadier General Dominique Trinquant said that there were more reasons for the current chaos in northern Mali than just arms supplies.
‘I think it would be an exaggeration to say that all these Kalashnikov assault rifles and machineguns have come from Gadaffi’s reserves. What is really happening is that the mercenaries, who once served Gadaffi, have been moving over to Mali from southern Libya. Small wonder that the jihadists were so quick to move in and fill the void,’ Dominique Trinquant said.
Five years after the Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi”s overthrow and brutal murder (on October 20, 2011), the situation is now far worse than it was five years ago as rival militias fight for control.
Libya has been split between rival parliaments and governments, each backed by a loose array of militias and tribes. Now five years on, Libya is caught between two rival governments, with the western-recognised parliament forced into exile in the eastern city of Tobruk in 2014, following a military uprising from the opponent group known as ‘Libyan Dawn’, who have since set up parliament in the capital, Tripoli.
While accurate figures are hard to ascertain, estimates suggest tens of thousands have died in Libya as a result of the conflict since 2011. Libya’s conflict has left 1.9 million people with serious health needs in a country that lacks medical professionals, medicines and vaccines, according to the World Health Organisation.
Five years ago Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadaffi met his grisly fate. While Libyan army units still loyal to him, fragmented and bled dry by NATO bombardments, were fighting tooth and nail against ‘revolutionary’ militant Islamist groups that had mounted an all-out offensive, Gadaffi, on the run for many months, had finally taken refuge in his home city of Sirte. His plight looked predetermined, as Libya was hopelessly sinking into an abyss of gloom and violent chaos.
Militants calling themselves the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya seized Gadaffi after NATO’s airstrike on his motorcade. The video footage so familiar to the whole world is evidence that in the last moments of his life Gadaffi was fiendishly beaten to a pulp, bayonetted, tortured and mutilated.
Then there appeared videos of 18-year-old Ahmed al-Shaibani, who reportedly killed the half-dead and bleeding Gadaffi by shooting him in the temple with a 9-mm gold-plated gun the Libyan leader always carried around.
The NTC later denied Gadaffi’s murder was intentional. It claimed he had died in a shootout between his supporters and rebels, who even tried to save his life. Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the NTC’s Executive Board, argued that Gadaffi had been found in a large drainage pipe. He had a wounded arm. If Jibril is to be believed, Gadaffi was being taken to hospital when the vehicle came under crossfire. Gadaffi died of a lethal wound to the head. Later, the new authorities rebuffed all international requests for autopsy results.
In the meantime, as the late Libyan leader’s cousin, Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, told Jeune Afrique magazine that Gadaffi had been well aware that NATO’s secret services were after him and knew his whereabouts. On October 20, 2011 he made a decision to move to a new place,’ al-Dam said. ‘As soon as the colonel left the shelter, the strike against his motorcade followed.’
The attack produced heavy casualties. Several bombs containing choking agents were dropped. Some 70 loyal associates lost consciousness. All of them were killed. Gadaffi had suffered multiple wounds, passed out and was handed over to militant groups,’ al-Dam said.
In violation of the rules of Islam, Gadaffi was buried only several days after. Before the funeral his body and that of his son Mutassim were put on display in a supermarket refrigerator in Misrata (200 kilometres east of Tripoli).
Curious onlookers stood in long lines waiting for their turn to take a look at the remains of their all-mighty ruler. Gadaffi’s burial site remains a secret. The new authorities fear that his grave may become a pilgrimage shrine for his supporters.
Libya had spent over 40 years under Gadaffi’s uninterrupted rule. Gadaffi, though cursed by some as a tyrant who mercilessly quashed dissent, outlawed political life and nipped the opposition in the bud, managed to achieve his prime objective.
He built a Libya that was a centralised state, and not a territory of warring tribes and clans. His citizens enjoyed rights, fringe benefits and decent living conditions. Oil revenues were distributed among the Libyans, who enjoyed free education, including an opportunity to receive instruction in other countries, free medical care and social insurance, and could obtain real estate and other properties free of charge or for a token payment.
Without such a strong leader the ‘revolutionary wave’ brought to the surface an endless wave of rival Islamic groups many of which promptly turned radical. Many of these associated themselves with Al-Qaeda from the outset. Their militants first fought against Gadaffi and then eagerly joined the Islamic State, which promptly started to thrive in an oil-rich and feud-ravaged country possessing vast military arsenals.
Gadaffi had repeatedly warned of such risks. Very few agreed to lend an attentive ear to his prophecies. As he addressed the nation from the balcony of his residence in Tripoli, the colonel warned that those who had unleashed a war against his country were out to turn it into Bin Laden’s emirate or into another Afghanistan.
Later, Gadaffi accused NATO of intending to colonise Libya and to lay hands on its oil and water resources. ”The colonialists want Libyans to kill each other. They want to bring our people to their knees. If Libya is on fire, who will manage to govern it?’ he asked prophetically.
On September 1, 1969, at the age of 27 he led a group of Libyan army officers who ousted King Idris from power. Surely, he could have hardly anticipated that four decades later he would suffer such a terrible fate to die at the hands of Jamahiriya’s ‘sons’ who would torture and ridicule him.
Nor could he have imagined that he would go down in history as one of the youngest-ever heads of state and the founder of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, established on the ideas of the Green Book he authored, his Third International Theory and the principle of direct democracy.
Gadaffi had no fear of death. ‘I will never abandon Libyan soil, I will go on fighting to the last drop of my blood, and I will die here as a martyr,’ Gadaffi said on the day of the Libyan Revolution’s 42nd anniversary. ‘We, Libyans offered resistance to the United States, Italy and Britain in the past and we will not surrender now. I’m there where they will never get or kill me, because I am alive in the hearts of millions of Libyans.’
In one of his last messages, Gadaffi urged the people of his country to go on fighting after his death. ‘Even if you don’t hear my voice, do go on fighting,’ he urged his fellow countrymen.
In the video showing Gadaffi’s last minutes he is heard uttering curses addressed to his butchers. It looks like Libya as an integral state may rid itself of these curses only after a new national liberation, socialist revolution.