jump to navigation

Qaddafi ousted: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 24, 2011 August 24, 2011

Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Two days after rebel troops breached the defense perimeter around Tripoli, the situation in the Libyan capital remains uncertain, with Christ the King Anglican Church reporting attacks against the city’s Catholic Church and sporadic violence.

The four decade rule of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi appears to have come to an end on Aug 21 after rebel troops entered the city after encountering what was reported as only light resistance from the Khamis brigade commanded by one of Qaddafi’s sons.

Col. Qaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown, and rebel troops have surrounded the Bab al-Azizya—the presidential compound.  Western television networks have broadcast anti-Qaddafi celebrations in the city’s Green Square, and on Aug 22 the rebel coalition’s Transitional National Council chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil reported that two of the Libyan leader’s sons, including heir-apparent Saif al-Islam had been captured.

However, on Aug 23 Saif al-Islam surprised foreign journalists when he visited their hotel in the heart of the city, disputing claims he was a prisoner of the rebels.  The regime continues to control the national television network and pro-Qaddafi military units remained in control of pockets of the city.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, saying his government would “continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected.”

On Aug 22, Prime Minister David Cameron stated “the latest information is that the vast majority of Tripoli is now controlled by free Libyan fighters, although fighting continues – and some of it is extremely fierce.”

Qaddafi’s “regime is falling apart and in full retreat,” Mr. Cameron said, adding “our task now is to do all we can to support the will of the Libyan people, which is for an effective transition to a free, democratic and inclusive Libya.”

While Libya appears to be free of the Qaddafi regime, foreign policy experts are not optimistic the new regime will be democratic or inclusive.   Jonathan Schanzer of Washington’s Foundation for the Defense of Democracy predicted a “bigger battle” may be on the horizon.

“Qaddafi exploited tribal hatreds in Libya for four decades. He also robbed the country of any semblance of civil society. Now, after months of fighting, the country is awash with weapons. There should also be concerns about the ideology that will ultimately characterize the new Libya, when the guns have gone quiet. Qaddafi’s Green Book, a bizarre amalgam of socialism and Islam, was the ideology he imposed on Libya. Nobody there ever embraced it, but other ideologies were effectively banned. With Qaddafi’s ouster, we open Pandora’s Box,” Mr. Schanzer said.

In an email from the worn torn city to the Bishop of Egypt, the Rev. Hamdy Doud, an associate vicar of Christ the King Church in Tripoli, wrote: “At last, things are getting better” and internet communications have been restored.

“We praise the Lord for our safety here in Tripoli in such difficult situation,” Mr. Doud wrote.

“Now all people here are so glad of experiencing improvements and developments. But we still need to pray for the current transitional time to witness safe consequences of development. The Catholic Church was stolen by force last night, but we thank God that nobody was hurt. For the time being it is not safe to move around, and it will take us some time, but we are glad of having some relief,” he wrote.

The prime minister stated Britain was ready to assist with the transition to democracy.  “We have a strong mission already in Benghazi consisting of Foreign Office, military and aid specialists, and we will establish a British diplomatic presence in Tripoli as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

“Six months ago this country took the difficult decision to commit our military to support the people of Libya,” Mr. Cameron said.

“I said at the time that this action was necessary, legal and right – and I still believe that today.

“It was necessary because Qaddafi was going to slaughter his own people – and that massacre of thousands of innocent people was averted.

“Legal, because we secured a Resolution from the United Nations, and have always acted according to that Resolution. “

“And right, because the Libyan people deserve to shape their own future, just as the people of Egypt and Tunisia are now doing,” the prime minister said.