By Sinem Cengiz and Nazly W. Omer
Toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled Libya with a dictatorial grip for 42 years until he was ousted by rebels in a bloody war, died yesterday (October 20) after being caught by rebel forces in his home town of Sirte, a stronghold for loyalist fighters. News of Gadhafi’s death flashed across the world and soon after came reactions from world leaders.
The world was informed by his death shortly after the National Transitional Council (NTC) captured Sirte after weeks of fierce fighting. NTC officials said Col. Gadhafi was wounded in a gunfight and died of his injuries. As the news of Gadhafi’s death became clearer, crowds of Libyans took to the streets in Sirte, Tripoli, and Benghazi.
It has been said that NATO’s governing body will meet to decide when and how to end the seven-month bombing campaign over Libya.
After Gadhafi’s death, opposition activists from Syria and Yemen said that dictators around the Middle East should pay close attention to the fate of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.
The event signals a new era for Libya, especially those Libyans who suffered under his rule. However, what will come next for Libya—and the wider region—remains open to debate.
USAK Middle East expert Ali Hussein Bakir expressed his opinions on the death of Gadhafi. Emphasizing the ethics of the published photos, Bakir stated that “There were lots of arguments about this issue. But there are two important things in this matter. First of all, people wanted to be sure if Gadhafi was dead. So seeing the photos will assure them he is dead. Second, today we are in the technological era, so it is not possible to block someone from taking photos, that’s why some photos were not appropriate.” When asked whether the death was planned, the USAK expert indicated that the Libyan National Transitional Council had declared openly that they would capture Gadhafi and judge him in Libyan courts. He added that they consider this the first step for the new era, but unfortunately things did not go the way they expected. In this context, Bakir stated that “We should wait for an official statement from the National Transitional Council because there are many comments on how he has been shot and who did it. Also, we can see from the photos that NTC members tried to rescue him from bleeding but failed. As a result we cannot say that this was a planned death.”
When asked what the other leaders’ reactions after this event would be, USAK expert Bakir answered as follows: “It would have ended better if Gadhafi had resigned in the first place. This would save lots of lives. But unfortunately, dictatorships end in a tragic way. We hope that the other leaders would get this message and understand that quitting is the better way.”
When asked how the process will operate in Libya after the death of Gadhafi, Bakir replied as follows: “The situation is very critical right now. Libyans should not enter into an internal fight in order to gain political shares. They should work collectively and then move to the next step which is transitional government. During this transition, it is very important to make sure that all Libyans are participating. We hope no fights over political shares will happen.”
Another USAK researcher Fuat Ferhaoui stated that it was not appropriate to publish the photos of Gadhafi in this manner. He added that this will lead to the reaction of the tribe which Gadhafi belonged to. The USAK researcher also indicated that due to political and ethical reasons, Gadhafi should not have been treated in such a way. He also pointed that the National Transitional Council should intervene to stop the publishing of the photos.
The USAK researcher stated that the events which took place in Libya were regrettable and added that “regional leaders should be aware that those events can also happen in their own countries, and should understand that the freedom of the people cannot be a negotiable issue both in inner and outer circles. Regional leaders should show a bit of courage and responsibility in order to keep their countries away from destruction and war, which happened in Libya. This issue does not only concern the Middle East but also the African countries.”
He also added that “The death of Gadhafi is not a significant event. Gadhafi was removed from the central place since the outbreak of events. Here, the main problem is the re-establishment of the state. In order to maintain this, a reconciliatory mindset, cooperation between all tribes and political groups, and help of neighbor countries are needed by Libya”.
Ferhaoui emphasized that North African countries and countries in the region such as Egypt should provide support to Libya, and added that “Inefficiency in this process would affect not only North Africa, but also the whole African and Middle Eastern region.”
When asked how the process will operate in Libya after the death of Gadhafi, Ferhaoui answered as follows: “The maintenance of peace in the country is as critical as the charges against proponents of Gadhafi. Libyan people should take into account that some of Gadhafi’s proponents may have acted in that way because of fear, oppression, and ignorance. Therefore, Libyan people should recognize the values of tolerance and forgiveness. In addition, importance should be given to the reconstruction of the state and societal institutions. But first of all, the priority should be given to the reconstruction and development of regions like Sirte, which Gadhafi attempted to make his base, so that the inhabitants will not think that they are paying for their support for Gadhafi.”
Sinem Cengiz and Nazly W. Omer, JTW