Libya: Revolutionary Zeal

Qaddafi’s counter-offensive against rebel-held territories have dominated the news in the past couple days. There is no doubt that unlike Mubarak or Ben Ali, Qaddafi is willing to kill his people en masse to give life to his regime. That is not to say that the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes didn’t kill, but they didn’t do so in such a manner.  Reports suggest the Qaddafi’s refusal to quit and his counter-attacks have slowed the momentum of the revolution. Whereas before, cities fell to rebels rather quickly, now people are digging in for a longer and more protracted struggle.  I do think that although the rebels have suffered some setbacks, they will succeed in the long run because of a number of reasons. First, although the regime has far more superior firepower and is more organized in terms of its ability to wage war, the revolutionaries have strength in numbers. Qaddafi is hated, not because of what we think out here in the west, but because of the mere fact that he’s ruled for more than four decades with an iron fist and has embezzled state funds to the benefit of his family and cronies, and Libyans are fully cognizant of  his corruption, dungeons and torture chambers, and senile ways. Second, the revolutionaries fight with zeal. Not all, but many soldiers are fighting because they are ordered to do so. In the long run, those who follow orders face a commitment deficit in relation to those who fight for revolution. In other words, revolutionary zeal gives the rebels a decisive edge.  Third, the rebels have a major disadvantage when it comes to military operations and basic training. Some reports suggest that most of those rebels that have been injured in fighting have sustained those injuries mainly because of a lack of experience in handling weaponry.  This I feel is a short term problem. As the war drags on, not only will the rebels improve their military capabilities, but they will adapt them in ways that will make up for the shortcomings of their weapons’ sophistication.  Four, the same applies to the leadership. As the conflict continues, people will emerge from the rebellion who have a natural talent at organization and will evolve into capable rebel commanders so whatever criticisms people are directing at the former justice minister turned opposition leader may be fleeting. He may be a stepping stone to a more competent battle-hardened commander.  Lastly, as the showdown endures, Qaddafi grows more and more isolated internationally, which means that while the rebellion hardens he will have less capital to enlist support from the outside.  In other words, although uncertain, if I was a betting man I would put my money down on the side of the rebellion.

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