x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The failures of governance in Libya discredit the gains of the uprising.

Arabic-language newspapers discuss the growing legitimacy of the civil state, and the doublespeak that Hizbollah engages in.

Longing for Qaddafi? Failures in governance incline Libyans to miss the bad old days

Last week, Libyans celebrated the first anniversary of their revolution against the repressive regime of Col Muammar Qaddafi, but the jubilation did not live up to expectations, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi editorialised in its weekender edition.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), did not make a public appearance in Tripoli or Benghazi to mark the event, the paper said, perhaps for fear that he might be booed by the many Libyans who deplore the poor performance of the interim government and the lack of security that has lingered since the start of the uprising.

Last year, a group of protesters stormed the head office of the NTC and were about to attack Mr Jalil when security intervened and escorted him out through a back door.

"The Libyan people are not happy about the situation in their country," the newspaper stated. "Militias and armed brigades are still present in the main cities, even in the capital Tripoli. The public-service sector is collapsing; there are no state institutions yet.

"Plus, corruption is reaching record highs, leading the finance minister to resign; he didn't have any pride in heading a ministry that is incapable of tracking down billions worth of the people's money being siphoned off to foreign accounts."

The question of human rights also hangs heavy on the first anniversary of what many hoped would become a new Libya.

Groups like Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have spoken extensively about temporary detention camps for more than 30,000 Qaddafi loyalists. They are said to be living in inhumane conditions involving torture and rape, the paper claimed.

"We are surely aware that one year is not enough time to find a solution to every problem, and we are equally aware that all revolutions are characterised by blunders and human-rights abuses due to the irresponsible behaviour of individuals or rogue groups.

"But it is hard for any observer to see serious efforts being made to right those wrongs."

It seems that the international community, especially Nato countries, that stood by the Libyans in their revolt against the rule of Col Qaddafi have "washed their hands of the country's affairs" as soon as they were guaranteed that Libyan oil would be regularly feeding their refineries, the paper added.

"It is indeed shocking to read the findings of a poll conducted by a British newspaper like The Guardian, showing that a third of the Libyan people want the old regime back due to their frustration with what their country is coming to."

Libya produces more than one million barrels of oil per day; its people need and deserve a functioning country, the paper concluded.

The civil state has grown out of uprisings

One of the fruits of the Arab Spring is the newfound concept of "the civil state", which has become a topic of positive debate, wrote Mansour Al Jamri, editor of the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, in a column yesterday.

The civil state, as opposed to the military, theocratic or tribal state, is a state where society is cemented together by a civil bond between its components. That is a state where citizens value their sense of belonging to the same nation over the other affiliations they may have, and are the ones entitled to bestow legitimacy upon their leaders on a consensual basis.

"This notion, which is in line with international human rights conventions … is now shared by various political movements across the Arab world," the editor said. "But [it] needs time to translate into reality."

Political analysts have long been of the opinion that Arab countries will never enjoy democracy because they are not civil states, rather just hodgepodges of warring tribes, sects and ethnicities, who easily privilege the "tribal", "sectarian" or "ethnic" bond over the civil bond, the editor said.

Whereas this still holds true, the Arab Spring has clearly given rise to fresh Arab voices that make a strong case for the civil state, despite accusations from conservatives that a civil state is just another word for secularism.

 

Hizbollah gives a false defence of Damascus

In an opinion article yesterday, the editor of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, Tariq Al Homayed, referred to the leader of Hizbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, as a "shabbih", which is the singular form of the Arabic word "shabbiha", the street name for the Syrian regime's goons.

"In his speech last Thursday, Hassan Nasrallah, the shabbih, said: 'Can a king, an emir or a sheikh in any Arab regime ever undertake the reforms that Al Assad and the Syrian leadership have undertaken?'" the editor quoted Mr Nasrallah as saying.

"Well, no king, emir or sheikh in the Arab world kills 7,000 of his own people just to stay in power," the editor argued.

In fact, there are many instances in the region's history where kings and sheikhs abdicated to save lives, he noted. King Farouk of Egypt is one. In 1817, Imam Abdullah bin Saud surrendered to the Ottoman forces of Ibrahim Pasha to spare the lives of Saudi civilians.

By "reforms" Mr Nasrallah was mainly referring to a new constitution proposed by the Syrian regime. It limits presidential tenure to two seven-year terms. "Which is more a farce than a constitution," the editor said.

Basically, President Bashar Al Assad, who has not declared that he wasn't running, wants to complete 25 years in power.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi

aelbahi@thenational.ae