Thoughts on Qaddafi’s Death

I woke up this morning to texts and phone calls alerting me to the historic news. With the death of Qaddafi, the end of his 42-year tyranny is now complete. As footage has shown, much of Libya is engulfed in celebrations. Here’s the video of his dead body, though I advise that you should only watch  it if you need visual proof, otherwise, it’s a bit disturbing and should be avoided.  There’s something always a bit unnerving for me and I’m sure others when people rejoice over someone’s death, however unsavory that individual may be. I understand that for many inside Libya this is doubtless a major relief.   It has to be, his tyranny rivaled that of Saddam’s.  And even after he was ousted from the capital city, Qaddafi still posed a threat as he was advocating for a violent counter-revolution.  Nevertheless, as much as I loath this man, have obsessively followed the revolution in Libya since February and looked forward  to his downfall, wrote about the necessity of the NATO air cover when the rebellion was on the verge of collapse,  and as much as I recognize that such an end for someone like Qaddafi was almost inevitable, I do not watch the footage of his death with joy.

Rather, watching such a scene reminds me of how murderous his rule was to the point that his death is met with mass celebrations. In other words, the fact that people are celebrating his death (likely execution) should tell you of the desperation they have long faced at the hands of this madman; that joy is found in  its opposite, death, is telling of the situation. That is a sad point indeed. It further reminds me of how dictatorships still plague much of the region and how such an outcome, the violent death of a head-of-state at the hands of his own people, is a reality and a viable means by which many countries like Libya can achieve some semblance of change.  Indeed, for as long as regimes in the region close all avenues of democratic participation, more and more people will opt for such a radical and violent method of political expression. You see this in Syria as well, where protesters first advocated for reform but when they were repeatedly met with a hail of bullets, their message evolved into one demanding the execution of the president. This is the sad state of affairs for much of the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.

Admittedly, however, I do recognize the historic nature of his demise, especially in the context of the wider revolution marching throughout the region.  This is a much needed boost for those in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere who are still struggling to unseat their longstanding dictators.  Syrians and Yemenis took note almost immediately with prominent Syrian exiles stating: “This is a lesson for all dictatorships: The clear fate of all who kill his people is to end up under the feet of the nation,” while Yemeni revolutionaries proclaimed: “Saleh must understand that the only scenario left for him, other than stepping down, is what happened to Gadhafi.” This is indeed a warning to those leaders who cling to power by the barrel of the gun.

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