The Arab Spring is effectively the birth of the Arab citizen, yet many Arabs continue to sail in the Seven Seas of Conspiracy Theory.
It has been over five months since the epic uprising took place in Libya against the tyranny of a criminal regime. The Libyan people rose for freedom, justice and dignity. They aspire to establish a democratic state, and look forward to constructive participation in the international community. The Libyan uprising is alive and well, by the efforts of the free Libyans and freedom fighters, who are valiantly taking the fight to Gaddafi forces on many fronts to liberate Libya and end the brutal regime of Gaddafi.
To achieve the above, the National Transitional Council (NTC) was formed in the early days of the uprising, as the sole representative of the Libyan people. Severe shortage of funds has made it difficult for the NTC to provide basic services and needs of Libyans in the liberated areas, in particular in the Western mountain and on the Tunisian border. Shortage of funds should never happen to people who own over a hundred billion dollars in frozen assets in various parts of the world. One thinks that funds belonging to Libya in any other country should have been made available to the NTC already. If not, then loans, guaranteed by the frozen assets, should have been provided to the NTC.
Except for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the response of the Arab countries to the Libyan uprising has generally been disappointing. Arab countries were not expected to intervene militarily in Libya to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s murderous forces, but they could help in other ways. Oil-rich Arab countries should have been the first to extend billions of dollars in loans to help the NTC meet its financial responsibilities. That alone would have been a great show of support and the loans would be guaranteed by the Libyan frozen assets. These Arab countries missed a great deed, and chose to contribute a few hundred million dollars instead. Arab regimes in Algeria and Syrian were particularly not sympathetic to the uprising, and their actions were suspicious, to say the least.
Such was the response of Arab governments, but what about the response of the sole subject and the ultimate benefactors of the Uprising, the Arab people?
Response of the people from the Arab world varied between hope for a promising future, all the way down to reliance on misinformation, resignation and despair.
Many Arabs are still not able to distinguish between the state and the regime, a syndrome which is a direct product of Arab political culture as perpetuated and nourished by Arab regimes over many decades. The Arab Spring is effectively the birth of the Arab citizen, but many Arabs continue to sail in the Seven Seas of Conspiracy Theory.
Response of the Arab organizations has not been better. Egypt’s main satellite network (Nile-SAT) carries Gaddafi’s propaganda TV signal, allowing the dictator’s lies and tyranny against the Libyan people to continue. Discontinuing the service was the moral thing for Nile-SAT to do, but it didn’t; it chose profit over values and much damage was done to Libya. Recently, on July 11, 2011, a court in Egypt has ruled that Nile-SAT should no longer show Gaddafi’s 14 hideous channels. This is a good development but the court order is not yet in effect, and probably too late to have much impact as Gaddafi forces are in defeat and his regime will not last much longer.
In contrast to the Arab response described above, the West emerged as a committed ally of the Libyan uprising. In particular, France and the Great Britain were among the first to intervene militarily to protect civilians. This has lead to a NATO operation over Libya with a United Nations’ mandate to protect civilians. Libyans are grateful to the UN for supporting their struggle for freedom, and are also grateful to the West and NATO’s actions to defend innocent civilians against a brutal regime bent on killing them. This help is huge and deeply appreciated. NATO is fighting a moral war, one which is best described by the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague “The NATO mission over Libya is necessary, it is legal, and it is right.” On the other hand, Gaddafi the dictator is fighting an immoral one, using all means possible to defend his regime, committing unspeakable human rights violations and various war crimes against Libyans, whose lives became dispensable in his numerous attempts to discredit NATO operations. Gaddafi forces would deliberately bombard civilian buildings immediately after a strike by NATO, which his heinous propaganda machine then tries to blame on NATO.
The NTC now enjoys the recognition of over 30 nations, including France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Canada, and most recently, the US and the UK. The US decision was announced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a diplomatic meeting in Istanbul on July 15, 2011.
The move by the US administration to recognize the NTC means that billions of dollars of Libyan assets frozen in US banks could be released soon. The European Union opened an office in Benghazi, and has offered support during the transitional period in Libya to include help with the judiciary, security, and economic development.
Will the Arab people cease the moment and enter a new era of a promising future, full of challenges and opportunities, or continue to doubt themselves and distrust the intentions of the West?
Saleh Mneina teaches in the Engineering Technology School at the Red River College of Science and Technology in Canada. He taught at the Engineering school of Garyounis University in Libya until 1993.
Source: Libya TV