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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Monday, 17 September, 2007

BAIT AND SWITCH: Reformists Or Gullibles?

By: Ghoma


        In less eccentric regimes, the custom is to keep a list of personalities, or if you wish, a reserve of stand-by operatives, of different colors, stripes and creeds to be used as seasons alternate and the winds change directions. To signal a shift is in the offing and to give some clues to its direction, both to the inside but particularly to the outside, one or more of the minions in reserve fitting the bill will be assigned the task to lead the campaign. However, in a country as Libya where the Caudillo cannot trust his shadow, the place has been kept real clean from thinking humans -people with brains on waves other than those of the Colonel! Thus, as far as underlings go, those who may sing different tunes than the ones they've been fed and out of which they've made their careers, there's none, zilch, zip, nada! The land is as real parched desert of brains as that of topography. Be that as it may, what the Colonel seems to be doing and how his regime is carrying out -while denying it publicly- power somersaults, with little ideological shifting on the grounds, to make sure to keep the ball falls where it must when the begetter and founder to that power is no more capable or alive? The tactic appears, at times, as plain as the stodginess of the Colonel himself but at others as wrinkled as his face lately. His strategy seems to stand on two throngs or props: 1- with measured steps as the father withdraws gradually into the background, the son takes over. The process is being carried out with an eye on continuity. While the Big Kahuta is still performing the higher state functions, as receiving heads of states, etc., the son is filling for day-to-day routines, making speeches, cutting ribbons, etc. 2- the change of horses during the race, which will eventually lead to change of the guard, presupposes no dramatic upheavals in the long held principles and policies, nor a repudiation to its past as product of another era, at least for now. Whatever token touches made or to be taken will consist mainly of some rhetorical pronouncements and mere brandishing of promises by the Junior. Some sort of mumbo-jumbo that will be attributed to youthful exuberance, but none where it counts most: the actual defanging of the police-state and the restructuring of its role and functions.

        Whether planned or by chance, the mechanics of dynasty- making has started by appointing, so far nominally an inheritor to the throne of a virtual republic. Surprise! Guess what? Typical Arabian solution in general but it goes also well with the Colonel of Sirte's narcistic style: why not create the Qaddafi's Dynasty? North Korea's Kim Il Song's, Syria's Hafez Assad's, Cuba's Fidel Castro's, etc. had already blazed the road he's now ready to take. The stars are aligned and the signs are propitious. Of course, in the present circumstances of the so-called Arab World, there's not much need for even some fig-leave to hide what in other times and locales would be no less that an outrageous and revolting scandal. For, in the New World Order, there's a premium on continuity. Nothing should disturb the larger scheme of things. As long the oil pipelines are running and the gas-station open, their states can do locally whatever they want! Thus, there's not even the need to revert to such devices as an auxiliary parallel universe, to the existing structure, to test the new setup. But that's only a theory, in practice, even in a confusing system as the Jamahiriya is, there's a lot that can wrong. That's why there's a need for some fog to confuse the onlookers and smokes screens to blur their visions.

        The scheme was put into work for quite some time. It all started few years back, when through hazy inspiration or carpetbaggers's meddling, a workable, if not magic! formula was hit upon! Create one or two of the so-called "Qaddafi's Charity Organizations" ( when and where an acting head of state had created his own charity organization, outside of Libya, is still to be discovered) to be the launching pad as well as training grounds for inheritor to be! Since then all seems to be proceeding according to plan, slowly but consistently this "Charity Organization" has been acting, all but by name as a virtual government outside of the official government. It's areal of its own and performs some sort of smorgasbord motley of functions. It entered in negotiations with other countries, conducted business with heads of states and governments, paid huge amounts of money, and dared to criticize existing policies and pronounced changes to policies both in the inside as well as outside of the country. If such acts and behaviors didn't constitute a standing government, they certainly have made it a legal concurrent with the official one. Mind you, the purpose was not to undermine the government(s) or to create competition with it, but rather a more mundane purpose: to etch a new image as well to train the rooky son to become an effective leader! To grooming a son, Seif -who perhaps has come to politics quite late (going first for architecture, then for business, and now student on leave in political science!), and without the usual youthful activism, so much loved and less followed especially by those who were born with silver spoons in their mouths- and to be the pillar that will hold a dynasty.

        The Colonel seems to be walking very carefully, balancing his acting, as those acrobats walking on tight robes, and looking around in the background for any signs of trouble. Leaving the stage slowly in lockstep with entrusting more and more assignments to his son. This may also turn out to be the formula chosen to teach the student by immersing him directly in the mill of daily politics: hands-on learning by doing actual decisions and dealing with their consequences. That may also account for the Colonel's refrain this year from his usual 1st September hysteria.

        The road for the son is now clear ahead: steps were from "charity" to a media mogul, and on, the count is still open! For the get-go the charity's been given deep pockets. Thus, nothing becomes impossible in its march to accomplish. It can even start new businesses, as the ventures are popping up by the day, as long they lead to the Promised Goal! As to the invoked model workability? It's been, in part at least, inspired from the kindred regimes on the Peninsula -kingdoms or not kingdoms to the Arabs made no difference. As to why no one in the "government" seems to have the pluck to denounce the interferences and call things by their name? Maybe its members well know their relationship of bureaucracy to power is no different that between that between God and His angels, hypothetical. Perhaps they're also busy lining their pockets too! Though the financing of the "charity" as well as the spun-off businesses must be coming directly from the coffers of the oil revenues no one is bothered by the action? And while we're at the wonderland, just think about the whole lexicon of Saif's chosen for his ventures. It's interesting to reflect on the nomenclatures chosen for the latest adventures: "Oea, Cyrene, and al-Libyah Tv Channel." Are not all these of Greco-Roman etymological origins! Does this mean the 'reform' entails more than what's been said and seen? Would these be construed as some propitious or ominous signs to come? And will the long-lasting heritage of Athens and Rome finally come to rescue the barbarism of Bedouinism?

        When shall the real thing take effect? There'll come a time for Coronation. But that will be the end of the process. Unlike in traditional monarchies, the anointment of an heir-apparent is conducted in the open and with a lot of fanfare, in the so-called republican systems, this has to be arranged carefully, if not surreptitiously. Though, Qaddafi differs in this a bit! Be that because he's so full of himself, or perhaps out of scorn or contempt, or both, for his fellow compatriots, he is neither sly nor coy about the whole thing. He's conducting in the open for all to see, so to speak, though with all the cautionary vigilance. It remains to time and/or circumstances to finish the job and only that will finally put an end to all the speculations.

        There's nothing to stand against such a scenario. The question ain't about motivations or intentions particularly when the regime has had no ethical qualms from day one about usurping power or retaining it as long as it's still doing. The Colonel has never made any attempt nor probably ever harbored any intentions of legitimizing his hold on power. He considers power as a lottery-win or an object found! Aside from the silly titles and the mumbo-jumbo that went with them there's the plain fact of "I put my neck out and won the bet!" attitude, "try to take it from me if you can." Therefore, passing on what he still thinks a won prize, as an heirloom, to his offspring is only the logical consequence expected from a person with such mentality. Beside, this barbarism also has deep roots, one is sorry to say, in the culture in which Qaddafi was reared as evidenced by the tolerance of his continuous disregard to human decency and modern civilizational achievements. If there're any questions, they maybe of the emotional or rhetorical types. The conundrum regards more those groups and individuals, sorry again to say, who, while living outside the country are still under the sway of its culture. One may even venture to say, they should have better; and been more aware of the decadence in which both the regime and the culture are wallowing, to fall into the trap of going along with what ultimately will turn out to be their cross to bear.

        What to make of those who made their bets and waged their chances on the horse named Saif to win the race? They may have been seduced or deceived by the attraction of the sweet sounding tones of the so-called reform. Organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and similar weary spirits, groups and individuals have thrown the towel in and put their 'faith' in the still unknown horse's chances! Why? Perhaps because of naivete, greed, gullibility, ambitions, all combined; or just because there's no limit to human follies. Part of it these groups have adopted half-full and half-empty philosophy, which has the merit to justify anything under the son. Otherwise how one to explain such twisting logic, not to say parsing of an illogical system. Some even went as far as rhapsodizing on the Reform as being a Divine tool, if not Will! Only a religiously bent would have the fluidity of mind to assume all things natural and artificial including God's operating procedures, to pay close attention to matters human, and amend themselves to human desires and timing. Such groups and individuals are pirouetting on their toes in an attempt to square the circle holding the hope that democracy and theocracy, though contradictory terms, cam married together, a al Mullah in Iran, or worse! They're loath to admit the possibility, not to say accept, that there's a wide gulf -and thus separation- between what's human and what's ultra-human. Another oxymoron is while these folks are doing their utmost to steer society to conservatism they say they subscribe also to reform. What kind of reformists these types will be? Stretching the realm of the possible beyond its bending limits assumes there's enough resilience in both the system and its guardians. Neither dictatorship be that of the Army nor that of the Holy-Than-Thou has any flexibility to bend to the other. The result: the elimination of the weaker part. The upshot of all this is: To mix religion and state is no formula for reform, no matter how much the Mullahs of Iran or the Talibans of Afghanistan have expatiated on the subject. Therefore, to lend oneself to be a witness and blesser to such a major sin -to put it in their favored patois- of real historical proportions, as that of putting into effect a well-noted Lamarckian corollary (the acquired traits and features are inherited), the acquired positions and titles of power, in a country, are passed on automatically and in day light from father to son without much ado, is both a real scandal and a dilemma! What kind of humans the place is made up with? Even animals are noted for duking it out before anyone assumes the leadership of the pack! Are Libya and its Arab-stans sisters still below that level?

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

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