Back in January I had a rare opportunity of being part of a delegation that got to meet Gaddafi in his compound. The reason – Gaddafi had called a Historic conference to discuss African immigration into Europe. One of the questions he sought to answer was whether we the Africans in the diaspora are afforded a decent life in Europe and if not are we better off retuning to Africa.
The outcome of this conference was the establishment of an African Union in the Diaspora with representatives on each continent with the headmaster as it honorary president.
You can read about the rest of the conference here
At the time of writing that post things were just kicking off in Libya and it almost felt like the headmaster term was about to come to end. Five months on and it really doesn’t look like the headmaster is about to role his tent away.
The West appears confused as to what should happen to the Headmaster. This week we heard William Hague the British Foreign secretary say that it realy didn’t matter whether Gaddafi left Libya or not so long as he held no real power within Libay! Or Really Mr Hauge?
In addition the Libyan diplomats to London were expelled, it was announced to that cease assets would now be handed over to the rebels whom Britain recognised as the legitimate government of Libya. The recognition of the rebels as the legitimate government has left some in the United Nations nervous.
Despite all of this Gaddafi stays
Why is this?
I sincerely do not know but here are my suspicions for what it’s worth
The man himself
Having met the man this uprising is something that he would take personally, a personal hurt/injury if you like, one he would not take lying down. One of the key things that Gaddafi was keen to emphasize during the meeting was that he is a revolutionary and is not keen on governments and doesn’t hold any power as such he would not understand why the people of Libya would want him gone. In his view the people of Libya have a good life and if you have caught some of his TV addresses you will have heard him say
You have complained that the foreigners come in and take your jobs, now that they are all gone as a result of this uprising you can go and fill those jobs
I have no position to resign from
The African Mercenaries
One of the issues that was raised early on in this uprising was the fact that black African mercenaries had been drafted in by Gaddafi to silence his people. This was soon disputed and we heard from black Africans that live in Libya on BBC Radio 4 as they told stories of being given guns by the rebels, being forced to pose for photographs and these photos were circulated around the world. But more reports of black African soldiers from Mali fighting alongside Gaddafi have continued to surface.
Why would soldiers from Mali chose to die in a war that has nothing to do with them?
Whilst in Tripoli in January I learned from one of the black Africans that live in Tripoli that Gaddafi’s mother was from Mali and that because of this he would not tolerate anyone who mistreated black Africans and that he didn’t know that black Africans were being mistreated by the Arabs. If this is indeed true I do wonder therefore if Mali sees Gaddafi as one their own and as such willing to defend him whatever it takes.
Everyone has someone that loves them
This might sound frivolous a point but one of the observation that we made during our stay in Tripoli was that on the face of it Gaddafi has a lot of support amongst his people and that some genuinely love him. I strongly suspect that this is one of the reasons why he has not fallen yet. In Egypt we saw the army simply refuse to fire on its own people that was it for Mubarak. Why hasn’t the army in Libya done the same?
In addition we learned that Gaddafi had personally secured an apology from the Italians for the time they had colonized Libya and this seemed to mean an awful lot to the people that we met. They saw their leader as someone with a great deal of courage and as such a great leader. I suspect that whatever we might think of the man some in his country buy into his ideology (contained a green a book) and will do whatever it takes to protect it.
Out in the cold
Whilst in Tripoli we observed that a huge regeneration scheme was underway, new buildings were going up everywhere including housing for the poor. Someone in our group said something that has stayed with me to date and I think it may have some bearing on why this uprising is likely to be protracted.
‘For so long Libya was left in the cold by the developed world so she was forced to look within for solutions to her problems especially development type problems”
I can’t help but wonder that this has meant that Libya developed a sophisticated army with equipment to match and that these are as good as any you can find in the developed world and the irony of this is that it is likely some of the people who helped develop and build these systems are now at the receiving end of its might.
Those are some of the reasons I think this war in going to be drawn out.As things stand the moment the opposition has rejected a ceasefire as negotiated by the African Union and the coalition had not had any impact per SE so it really doesn’t look like the headmaster is about to role his tent away.
What do you think?
A version of this article has previously appeared on BIRDS ON THE BLOG