Gruesome footage, that would seem to confirm that Muammar Gaddafi was lynched by rebels who cornered him in Sirte, spells the end of a brutal dictator, who is reported to have amassed a personal fortune of some $50 billion in cash and assets in European and American banks and in investments.
It is difficult to believe that the overthrow of Gaddafi could have been achieved without the active support of NATO, whose intelligence gathering and air force operations helped defeat Libya’s standing army.
While there have been public expressions of joy by many world leaders at the fall of Gaddafi, it is not long ago that some were singing a different tune.
Only last year a Knesset delegation of six Arab MK’s including Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List) and Hanin Zoabi (Balad) visited Gaddafi in Libya. Upon their return Taleb a-Sanaa MK stated from the podium of the Knesset: “I want to congratulate the Libyan leader on the historic visit.”
Tibi was reported, according to an official transcript, as having called Gaddafi “the leader of the Arab leaders, king of the Arab kings”.
However, praise of Gaddafi was not limited to the Arab world. While Ronald Reagan once referred to him as a “mad dog”, African states nevertheless elected him as president of the African Union in 2009.
In 2010 he made a state visit to Italy to mark the second anniversary of the Italo-Libyan Treaty, and in 2007 he was the guest of President Sarkozy (although photos of the visit are mysteriously missing from the French president’s website.) Gaddafi’s death was referred to by the ruling African National Congress in South Africa as being “regrettable”.
While the West was quick to condemn Egypt’s President Mubarak and Colonel Gaddafi and support those forces that brought about their downfall, the belief that the so-called Arab Spring will bring democracy to the Muslim world is based on wishful thinking.
After all, the Arab world has no tradition of democratic rule, and the power vacuum that has been left by the removal of these dictators has left fertile breeding ground for both the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaida. It is not by chance that Libyan surface-to-air missiles are already finding their way into the Sinai Peninsula.
Just as the US went into Iraq without a clear vision of what would take place following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a similar short-sighted strategy would appear to have been pursued with respect to both Egypt and Libya.
While the overthrow of Gaddafi sees the end of a ruthless dictator, one is left wondering what tomorrow will bring.