x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Qaddafi's death dissected

Arabic-language editorials and columns discuss the Libyan dictator's demise and what the future holds for Libya and for other despots.

Qaddafi died as he wanted his people to

When the revolution started in Libya nine months ago, Muammar Qaddafi ordered his security forces to "clean up the streets" of all "the rats" and drag them out from every house and corner. Ironically, he ended up being dragged out of a drainpipe by Libyan rebels, and was killed on the street, wrote Tariq Al Homayed, editor of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, in a column on Friday.

"The rebels beat him to the punch [last week]. They encircled him, chanting "Allahu Akbar", with smiles illuminating their faces, while horror was screaming out from his facial features. Then the story ended right there. He was dead."

After ruling Libya for over 40 years by terrorising his people, buying allegiances and eliminating opponents, Qaddafi was "quite simply" gone, the editor wrote.

"He ruled Libya as the very embodiment of both the state and the law. Among many other titles, he was the Dean of Arab Leaders, the King of Kings of Africa and the Commander of the Faithful. Then he was killed in the gutter, deposed.

"Qaddafi's end is not so much pitiable as it is puzzling. It makes one ponder the same question that was often asked after the demise of Saddam Hussein and his family [in Iraq]: Why aren't the other tyrants taking a cue from this?"

Qaddafi's death: a corpse is owed respect

Muammar Qaddafi's regime was bloody and brutal and Libyans had to endure its atrocities for over four decades, yet that does not justify brutalising the deposed leader's corpse after he was killed by the rebels on Thursday, argued Abdelbari Atwan, the editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, in a front-page column this weekend.

"Yes, Muammar Qaddafi was a bloody criminal who severely abused his people and deprived them of all avenues of decent living. Libyans are free and honourable people, known for their modesty, kindness and pride. But none of this amounts to a justification of the way he was treated," the writer noted.

It is the same harsh treatment Qaddafi's opponents used to get, those who called for a fair justice system and a bare minimum of respect of human rights. The point is that revenge and rancour must have no place in the new Libya, the editor argued.

"I was personally shocked to see some members of the National Transitional Council beating up a wounded [Qaddafi] - some of them striking him with shoes - then dragging him on the ground. I was even more shocked when his corpse and that of his son Motassim were shown to the public in a dirty container in Misurata, as if there is no sanctity to a dead body."

Qaddafi's end marks Libya's fresh start

"It is a constant in the people-tyrant relationship: the former are bound to last, the latter is bound to go. Historical facts prove it, and present-day lessons reconfirm it," the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej stated in a front-page editorial on Friday.

"Muammar Qaddafi's murder [Thursday] was a very logical outcome," the newspaper said. "Qaddafi's downfall started before the February 17 revolution. It started the day delusions of grandeur got into him; the day he convinced himself that he was the centre of the universe, that his Jamahiriya (people's republic) was one of a kind, and that his Green Book was unmatched … It started the day he thought he was everything, and all the other Libyans were nothing."

With his death, Libya turns a new page, one we can hope will mark a chapter that has freedom, democracy and social justice as its main themes, not "lavish tents" or "revolutionary committees".

The empty, quirky Jamahiriya rhetoric has been laid bare, the newspaper went on.

"A great deal of wisdom and farsightedness is required now to manage the affairs of post-Qaddafi Libya and pre-empt the type of chaos that may result from the proliferation of weapons or attempts to divide up power."

Libyans are advised to take up the reconstruction challenge with the same perseverance that helped them topple the old regime.

Qaddafi's death serves some, but not others

Heads of despotic regimes must have checked their own bodies and patted their heads to make sure they were still safe as they watched the news of Muammar Qaddafi's death last week, columnist Walid Shucair wrote in the Friday edition of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

Qaddafi's "fellow adherents to authoritarianism" in the Arab world and elsewhere were hoping he would be able to drag out the civil war in Libya, because that would indirectly dishearten other peoples who are protesting for freedom and reforms.

"They wanted to exploit Qaddafi's madness to teach their respective peoples lessons about the perils of revolutions," the writer said. "They depended on Qaddafi's defiance and the time it was going to last. Now that he is dead, they are certainly feeling the heat. Some of them may be standing in front of their mirrors wondering what their own ends would be like."

Unlike "fellow despots" abroad, Qaddafi's Libyan comrades - some of whom turned against him to take the side of the revolution - must be relieved that he will never speak again. "His death spares them the disclosure of so many unpleasant secrets in which their names could come up in association with Libya's bloody past," the writer noted.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi

aelbahi@thenational.ae