Millennium Post

Wrecking Libya for good

The world’s greatest power enters a sovereign country, Libya and picks up Al Qaeda’s Abu Anas al-Liby, allegedly a fugitive from justice. Apparently he had been indicted in 2000 for the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

As soon as Secretary of State John Kerry announces that the Libyan government knew of the dramatic kidnapping, a handful of local militias, who stand in as the new nation’s army, are so enraged that they capture the nation’s Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan. They are angry because Zeidan helped the Americans in
capturing Libya.

The group which captures Zeidan explains their action to Al Jazeera TV: ‘In the light of the deterioration in security and damage to the country’s sovereignty by foreign intelligence bodies’, ‘we have arrested Zeidan’.

The operation appears to have been botched up in the sense that the more important target of American anger, Ahmad Abu Khattala, escaped. He is believed to have been involved in September 2012 attack in Benghazi which killed US ambassador Chris Stevens.

What really happened is something we shall know only after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Seymour Hersh publishes his book next year. Hersh told London’s Guardian newspaper that the 2011 US Navy Seals raid that resulted in the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden is ‘one big lie’. He added for emphasis: ‘Not one word of it is true.’

Yes, he said, ‘the Pakistanis did put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way: it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report’. Hersh’s book on National Security will have a chapter on the Abbotabad raid. Now one can expect reams of stuff on how the Americans delivered Libya into the new dawn of freedom.

It is now ofcourse fashionable for everyone to badmouth Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan strongman. But time was when he had his admirers even in South Block. That was when I first interviewed him.
In fact when President Ronald Reagan decided to bomb Tripoli and Benghazi in 1987, Non Aligned foreign ministers were in conference in New Delhi.

As soon as news of the bombing came, the foreign ministers formed a delegation under the leadership of India’s foreign minister, Baliram Bhagat, a great cricket enthusiast among other things. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi thought it was a brilliant idea to show solidarity with a fellow non aligned leader.

As theatre, Gaddafi was never less than riveting. But what left a great impression on Bhagat, his secretary, N.P. Jain (even the Yugoslav foreign minister shook his head in admiration) was the extraordinary position women had in his regime.

The Gaddafi melodrama began even as you were escorted to his presence: two stunning female bodyguards, one chiseled ebony, the other white marble, always flanking him.

Outside, there was an equal mix of men and women, carrying firearms. The world’s first military academy for women was in Libya. Women drove cars, worked in offices, schools, colleges, hospitals. There were no mullahs in the country. The most educated person in the neighbourhood could lead the Friday prayers.

Playing on popular superstition, Voodoo or other forms of African magic, was a criminal offence.
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