Thursday, October 20, 2011

The end of Kadhafi

We could have waited for this picture. Kadhafi was a clown, a frightening clown, but he wasn't a coward. I don't take part in the joy about his death. Let's hope the situation in Libya will improve now that he has gone. I have my doubts. Countries would better not be freed with the help op NATO.  

During my time as a Middle East correspondent I met Kadhafy only once. That was at 2 o'clock in the morning after the conclusion of an Arab summit in Casablanca in 1989. Kadhafy gave a press conference. In a black abaja he positioned himself in a pious  pose, hands folded, behind a table, his eyes quasi distractedly focusing on the something somewhat above his head. He told the audience (mainly consisting of admiring black African journalists of countries that Kadhafy used to give a lot of money to), that - although he almost never visited Arab summits before and also never regretted his absence after he had been been informed about what they had achieved -  this time had been very different. This time, he said, was really remarkable, because of the decisions taken and the declarations isssued.  Then he studiously took a roll of paper from one of his pockets, and started to read aloud - in Arabic - one of the decions of the summit. The one that comdemned the American aggression  on Libya in the Gulf of Sirte of earlier that year. 'This was,' Kadhafy said, 'really a remarkable text.'  He then gave the floor to questions.
Not without  problems I succeeded in asking him one question. I had to jump over two or three rows of chairs and to literally wrench the microphone from a collegue from Tchad who was asking his third or fourth long, boring and admiring  question.  I said that as a correspondent in Cairo I understood that Egypts' president Mubarak, after a time of bitter disputes between the two countries -  recently decided to open up the frontier which had long been closed - for airplanes. But only for planes and not for terrestrial traffic, because over land there remained a risk that Kadhafy would try and smuggle bombs. I said we had heard Mubarak saying this, but that nobody had heard Kadhafy's   comment.
The African collegues gave me strange and sowewhat frightening looks, but Kadhafy himself stayed very calm. After a while he gave a reaction through an interpreter. 'I  could not understand,' he  said, 'why he would allow only airplanes to pass and not also camels.'

PS There is evidence that Kadhafy was captured alive and killed afterwards. The story that he died from a headwound he sustained in the crossfire of the fight before he was taken from his hideout in a drianage pipe, does not correspond with the wounds that can be seen in the footage below of his corpse b(and that of his nson Mutassim). Bad news that apparently after he said 'Don't kill me sons,' the ragtag army that caught him did just that. Let's hope the new Libya eventually will be more disciplined than that. 

Ibrahim Issa, editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Tahrir felt the same, He wrote the following editorial in al-Tahrir (22 October):
The Libyan Rebels Must Issue an Apology.
"What the Libyan revolutionaries did to Kaddafi the day before yesterday was monstrous, lowly and inhumane. It hurts the Arab revolution. It even tarnishes the image of the Arab people. It gives the idea that when Arabs rebel against their oppressive rulers, they become as monstrous as the ruler and as lowly as any executioner working for any tyrant! There is no justification for this, the worst scene in the history of the Arab revolution... There must be an apology for this shameful scene, to be given immediately by the Libyan revolutionaries to the Arabs, to the people in quest of freedom and dignity, not rage, revenge and mutilation of the enemy."
(Thanks Noha Radwan).

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