Tragedy Without Majesty


President Barack Obama recently described Libya as a “mess” of a country. Indeed Libya, post Ghaddafi, is more than a mess, messed up by a combination of human factors including the failure of mankind to organize themselves. Libya was once a stable peaceful country, a prosperous nation under the dictatorship of the late Muammar Ghaddafi. But, today, years after the ‘Arab Spring’ revolution swept through the Middle East, Libya is a hopeless case of a country ruled by arms and warlords! Life generally in Tripoli, Benghazi and other cities and towns and villages in Libya is but a survival of the fittest with rebels and terrorists of different hue competing ruthlessly for space, power and resources.


There are advantages and otherwise of the Ghaddafi legacy in Libya. He brought about development in infrastructural sector and made life worth living for majority of Libyans even though he was doing all things with the principle of self-preservation as the first rule of engagement. He strategically subsidized a lot of goods and services making the environment socially conducive for the majority of his people. Soon enough, personality cult set in leading to paranoia and showmanship of power. Ghaddafi had sought for decades to dominate the political landscape by establishing a martial-like regime where sons and daughters held positions of authority even in the military top brass!

The advantage of the Ghaddafi tyranny could be seen clearly now that things have fallen irreparably apart nation-wide. He guaranteed stability and socio-economic development even though there was no room for political competition or challenge. Libyans — even when they knew they were in glorified bondage —  were living happily in silence! Today, the dogs of war have been unleashed on everyone and the memories of the seeming glorious days gone by haunt the initiators of a revolution bastardised! The disadvantage of the decades of absolutism could be seen by the lack of the central command of authority since no succession was ever planned nor prepared before the events of 2011 took the “spiritual guardian” away.

Ghaddafi was an unrepentant tyrant without remorse. During the revolution to overthrow his decades-old hold on power he refused to be intimidated defiantly addressing his people at his convenient time from a convenient abode and calling the opposition ‘rats and cockroaches’ that must be crushed. He was a flamboyant figure who defied the West to some extent and paid a huge price for his effrontery. In one particular incident following the terrorist bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in the late 80’s for which his agents were accused the US had sought to snuff life out of the drug-addicted despot by bombing his residence and sending him running through the underground exit tunnel for safety! His castrated female bodyguards often caused security and diplomatic breaches including during official visits to Nigeria. Ghaddafi was a gadfly and he showed no fear of man or ‘Allah’ as he ruled with iron fist.

Libya has transformed itself from a respectable one-party functioning state to a banana republic where anything goes, a country seriously divided, ruled by two competing authorities — one recognised internationally and based in Tobruk and the other in Tripoli. Libya has become the greatest exporter of terror around the world especially to sub-Saharan Africa. The terror machine linked to Libya had attacked different capital cities in West Africa in the recent past. The Tunisian tourism industry has almost been crippled by the terrorist attacks targetting White tourists. They had hit Bamako in Mali and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso! In the Malian capital the faithless jihadists stormed the “Radisson Blu hotel” butchering more than twenty one innocent Malians and foreigners. And in the Burkinabe capital they laid siege on another luxury hotel in the city called “Splendid Hotel”. There as the siege was over following the swift intervention of special forces corpses were strewn around with the wounded evacuated to hospitals and seized hostages freed.

And just last week Sunday the mad dogs of ‘jihad’ invaded a beach resort in Grand Bassam (45 kilometers from Abidjan) killing dozens (including four French men and a 25-year old Nigerian Adekunle Sarikou) and injuring scores. While the Ivorian special forces repelled the grisly attack by killing the three assailants they had succeeded in sowing the seed of fear and anxiety on the psyche of the local and foreign population. The Ivorian attack marked another bloody chapter in the war against established culture and civilisation across the globe. Which city or country is next on the firing line, no one knows for sure! The west African continuing terrorist attacks highlighted the world’s growing vulnerability to extremist violence.  No country is ever immune to terrorism but Africa, given our lack of intelligence gathering and military preparedness, is often exposed as an easy target for the roaming suicide bombers and jihadists — most of whom are being recruited within the countries involved via cyber space!

There was the peace parley held in Rabat Morocco mediated by the UN-mandated mediator, Martin Kobler, who was trying very hard amidst hardened positions to hammer out a deal leading to a transition to democracy. Last December a peace deal was signed (on paper) for the establishment of a National Unity Government by both factions. On the ground however nothing much has happened ever since even though the warring factions are fighting each other lesser now and waiting for new developments. Yet the chaos in Libya could be said, nonetheless, to have continued unabated with no central command and figure head!

Like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq Libya has been turned into one of the greatest purveyors of terror in the world today. Terror camps and cells abound and international terrorists outdo one another for control of space and resources in a country abandoned to the dogs. A breeding ground for crude terrorism Libya has gone beyond any control of any force except something extra-ordinary happens militarily to reverse the dangerous trend. Thousands flock to Europe daily via Libya where organized armed human traffickers make money through the blood and sweat of refugees and economic migrants from Africa. The raging anarchy is apparently beyond any human solution.

Boko Haram has established themselves as the local Daesh (ISIS) in Nigeria where on a daily basis we hear of suicide bombers blowing themselves up in or around the market, church or mosque. Recently a female suicide bomber blew herself up in a mosque in the north taking down souls with her! With Daesh firmly implanted in the late Ghaddafi’s homeland of Sirte it is possible for Shekau and his gang to be led from there with the provision of logistics and financial resources a certainty. Whilst it is admissible that Boko Haram has lost some steam (faced with the combined arsenal of a regional force) thereby becoming a spent force conquered technically they are still able to ruin lives bringing death and destruction to bear on their murderous rage. But no one should be deceived of their imminent thorough defeat militarily given the determination of the leaders of the countries involved.

With the establishment of a semblance of a unified governance structure in Tripoli the global coalition against terror must step up their strategy towards the invasion of Libya with a view to establishing a lasting peace and orderliness. No nation survives the rule of terror and militia or warlords. The ‘mess’ in Libya President Obama referred to must be sanitized in an insane environment. He should take the lead for Western Europe to follow.

The Libyan multi-dimensional crisis is a tragedy of immense proportions. Like an Athenian tragedy, however, it is one without the majesty of the Greek drama! The Tripolian or Benghazian tragedy like that of Athens has endured because there is no element of the Greek drama. Let us provide one today!

Written by
SOC Okenwa
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