National

Libyan oil is West’s main target

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New Delhi: Zafarul-Islam Khan, editor of the Milli Gazette delivered a lecture on the Libyan crisis on 19 March 2011 at the Jamaat-e Islami Hind headquarters here. It was chaired by JIH chief Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umri. In his lecture, Dr Khan said that the main cause of the current Libyan crisis, which so far has divided the country into two parts - eastern Libya held by rebels and headquartered at Benghazi, and western Libya held by Gaddafi’s regime - is the magalomania of the Libyan ruler. Shedding light on modern Libya’s background, Dr Khan said that this North African country came to the limelight when, in 1911, Italy occupied it. Libyan people led by Umar Al-Mukhtar, a brave member of the famous sufi Sanussi Movement, resisted the brutal and oppressive invasion for a long time. After the capture and execution of Al-Mukhtar in 1931, the resistance came to an end and the Italian forces were able to spread their control over the whole area and uprooted resisting Arab tribes and threw them, en masse, in concentration camps like Al ’Agaila. After the Second World War, Libya got freedom and Libyans chose Mohammad Idris, a young leader of the Sanussi Movement, as their king. On September 1, 1969 in a successful coup, Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi at the head of a 12-member younng army officers group revolted against the king while he was on a foreign tour, and dethroned him. Gaddafi became the revolutionary leader of Libya and still continues in that position 42 years later, said Dr Khan.

In his early years, Gaddafi used to raise sentimental Arab and Islamic issues. Being a demagogic speaker, championing Islamic and Arab renaissance and delivering harsh criticism of America and Israel, he mesmerized Arabs and became very popular in the Arab street. He became very close to the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser who said that Gaddafi was his heir. But after Nasser’s death, when Anwar Sadat started his overtures with the US and Israel, Gaddafi’s differences with him began, which led to even armed skirmishes between the two countries, in which Libyan forces were routed. With huge oil reserves and a very thin population, Libya is one of the richest Arab and African countries. 

In addition to his other obsessions, Gaddafi was very enthusiastic for unity with other countries. That’s why Gaddafi squandered a lot of money trying to make alliances with Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and even some European and African countries. In the aftermath of Gaddafi’s failure to become leader of the Arabs, he left the idea and started wooing African countries and even declared himself as the “king of the kings of Africa.” In 1974, Gaddafi announced his cultural revolution which was centred on queer ideas of his Green Book authored by himself. To propagate its ideas and theories, Gaddafi spent a major part of the Libyan oil revenues on holding seminars, conferences and symposia and financing groups and parties across the globe. He even financed two Arabic newspapers, Al Safir and Al-Rai al-’Am to serve as his voice.

Speaking on Gaddafi’s eccentricities, Dr Khan further said that he named Libya as the “Great Arab Libyan Popular Socialist Jamahiriyah” while in fact his regime was a total dictatorial police state. In full autocratic manner, Gaddafi imposed his cultural revolution on his people, according which private business was totally banned, hiring a help to work in houses, farms and shops was also not allowed. Consequently all civil institutions of Libya came to a dead end and were replaced by “popular committees” formed by Gaddafi loyalists consisting of semi-literate, slogan-monger youngsters. Rule of law came to an end and secret agencies ruled the roost. Thus Libya became home to the third the largest secret service system in the world after Saddam’s Iraq and Kim Il-Jong’s North Korea. Personal, religious, social and political freedoms were crushed. In this regard Dr Khan referred to some dreadful facts. For example, in 1996 Gaddafi sent his soldiers to a Tripoli prison called Bani Sulaim to kill in cold blood 1200 people in one single night.  The massacre remained a secret and only in 2009 it was revealed that all these poor people were mercilessly murdered. Among the deceased was journalist Muhammad Sulaiman Al-Qayid, a personal friend of Dr Khan whom he described as one of the best human beings he has known in his life. Against this backdrop of repression, the current rebellion took place, said Khan.

Now Gaddafi’s days are numbered because Interpol has issued warrants against him and his close family members and aides for war crimes. His overseas accounts and huge assets have been frozen. A ‘No-Fly-Zone’ has been declared in Libya  by the UN.

Regarding Gaddafi’s future, Dr Khan said that his guess is that Gaddafi being a stubborn Bebdui, will not surrender or leave the country, and will go down fighting. In answer to a question whether the Libyan revolutionaries were Islamists, Dr Khan said that in fact this war is a tribal war and the insurgents are a combination of Islamists, leftists, tribalists and common people who are fed up of the repressive regime.

Regarding the No-Fly-Zone and the foreign armed intervention, Dr Khan said that this move is not welcomed in the Arab street because people believe that in this way the West led by America will occupy Libya like Iraq and will capture and exploit Libyan oil reservoirs. 

To watch this lecture, visit MG on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/milligazette

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2011 on page no. 7

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