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Opinion: The Libyan Power Struggle - By Huda Biuk
09/04/2012 03:47:00
To say that Libyans have struggled for the past four decades would be an understatement. Youth dominate the Libyan demographic which means a very large portion of the Libyan population were introduced to life with Moammar Gaddafi in it, and grew up struggling.

The different forms of struggles people faced ranged from the extreme, yet copious cases of imprisonment and/or torture to being prevented sufficient educational and vocational opportunities. However, the nature of struggling stems deeper for Libyans who were conditioned to view even mundane tasks as a power struggle.

From an early age, the average Libyan citizen was presented with the birth of this internal struggle. Institutions like Libya’s educational system have been corrupted by a system that discouraged hard work, and fortified the “connections” a student had. These “connections” often helped the student in areas ranging from offering the answer sheet during an examination, to adjusting the student’s final grade.

It was about who you knew, and this made a convincing case to Libyans from a young age that hard work and following the rules never paid off. This would continue to prove its actuality later in the child’s life until it was time to assume a vocational position where “connections” were just as commonly helpful.

Naturally, the extent of corruption affected the people’s sense of self-worth. This, according to many locals, was exactly what Gaddafi intended. By limiting the people’s opportunities, Gaddafi hoped to cripple them so that they felt powerless to changing any part of his corrupt government. As a result, Libyans lacked confidence or a sense of control over their own lives but, instead of feeling powerless, they were conditioned to believe things must be taken by force.

This was best demonstrated after last year’s forceful effort to topple Gaddafi’s regime succeeded. However, in the post-Gaddafi Libya this attitude proves problematic when in numbers, and is displayed in Libya’s streets every day.

A power struggle can often, and almost always, is observed in the events of daily life in the city such as driving. Tripoli doesn’t lack efficient traffic lights which usually regulate traffic. But the rules of green, yellow, red are rarely regarded by all four directions of oncoming traffic on any given intersection.

This collective disregard for common rules is not a new problem, nor is it a display of the country’s situation after last year’s uprising. Under Gaddafi it was a natural act of rebellion against the system that had long crippled the personal accomplishments of its citizens. Unfortunately, the problem has oozed its way into the new Libya and has been further complicated by the results of last year’s conflict.

The 2011 uprising inspired a sense of the power of the people. However many people now believe that giving up the tools that helped the country attain liberation will, in a sense, be giving some of that power away. Thousands who fought in last year’s rebellion have refused government orders to disarm and have wrongfully interpreted the possession of arms to equate to the possession of power. It is now hard to fathom that weapons will not be as useful post-conflict, as it was in the effort to fight for freedom.

When interviewed, the countless protestors of last year’s rebellion expressed a simple desire for basic necessities. They wanted proper education, jobs with salaries that provided comfortably for their families’ needs, and they wanted Gaddafi, who was murdering protestors by the hundreds each day, out of the country and out of their lives.

As Libya’s new interim government works on establishing a foundation for Libya, it is being faced with complicated issues. However, not all of those issues require complex solutions.

Last year’s historical conflict was inspired by the basic desire for the opportunities that the majority, without connections, was deprived of. If the interim government, with its limited time, focused its efforts on improving the country’s basic institutional systems it could offer priceless change to Libya, and to every individual trying to find his or her way.

S.R.H. Hashmi, the Libyan revolution was a natural evolution. It erupted spontaneously on the 15th of Benghazi amongst civilians and mostly youth. How much more natural does it need to be? Please do not mix the necessitate entry of political and military support to counter the brute force of the Gaddafi regime with the social will of people. Sure, there is a price tag that comes along with that but do not hurl it at the common people and undermine their cause.
To be honest, one has got to admit that Col. Muammar Gaddafy was not hundred percent evil, with not an ounce of goodness about him. Surely, in his long-span, he did some good things as well though one has to admit that with the absolute power, the long span, and the Libyan oil wealth he had, he did not accomplish even a small fraction of what he could have done. The worst he did was to establish a dictatorial form of government that dealt ruthlesly with the opposition and did not allow any difference of opinion, with all powers concertrated in the hands of a few lieutenants, mostly his close relatives. He ran Libya almost like a family business.

There were problems even with the Libyan revolution which was not a natural evolution but a sudden jerk-action, initiated by the Americans who acknowleded their role in it, and also speeded up by the United States and the NATO bombers. Thus, the revolutionaries did not get enough time to prepare for it and reached their destination, much before they were prepared for it. So, no one should be surprised over the friction that we see all around.

All praise for the Libyan people for waiting patiently all those years or rather decades. I think it would not be asking too much to request them to wait a little bit longer and let the government work things out for them, instead of taking every thing in their own hands. Libyans owe this much to all their comrades who lost their lives in the struggle. Impatience at this stage when they are so near to realizing their cherished goal would be counter-productive and very unfortunate indeed. Now that the future is in their own hands, they should not spoil it through in-fighting and impatience otherwise they could end up fighting inter-tribal wars for decades, with every one ending up a loser.

S.R.H. Hashmi

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