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Not Enough, Mr. Saif

A lot has been written and more said about what Saif Elgadaffi said in his most recent speech last week. And sifting through the different views expressed about what he meant makes for an interesting birds eye view of the spectrum of opinion of an important group of Libyans who cared to comment.

Going back to Saif’s speech; he certainly has a mountain to climb, not only in terms of the tasks ahead in Libya to effect any true perestroika(1) or glasnost(2) , but he also, and before that, has a serious credibility issue.

No body should be a prisoner of the misgivings of his parents, but Saif has ones of his own. If he was serious about change to the better in Libyan society, why should that be restricted to him personally? He is the only one who can say that Libya is not the paradise that his father keeps reminding the Libyans that it is?
Or that there is no democracy in Libya? Or free media outlets? Etc.

What he announced, and the way he announced it, is a clear manifestation that it is the same old way of doing business that his father has been practicing for over 30 years- that it is “me”… I know best… you will do this… and that is the way it is going to be!

If Saif Elghadaffi was truly concerned about the lack of democracy and free speech in Libya, then why is he not campaigning strongly and loudly for a free Libyan society, for removing from the statue books of all laws that makes membership to a political party a crime, and expressing political views contrary to his father’s also a crime, or to stop unlawful imprisonment? etc.

Talking about millions of telephone lines, PCs and cars for the boys won’t wash with the Libyans who are having to struggle for their daily living. Who are you in the scheme of things and in the decision making process in Libya? The fact that you think you can announce such “initiatives” that have huge financial implications is symptomatic of the old style single and narrow minded Ghadaffi’s way of management in Libya.

And by the way, it is so rich for Saif Elghadaffi to talk about the “fat cats” in Libya, because can he for instance explain how can his organisation- what ever it is called these days- announce $200 million of aid to Lebanon? How can a non-governmental charitable organisation like the Ghadaffi’s society for “development” be so awash with cash to pay all this money in the four corners of the earth? And please do not tell me that it is funded from his father’s book sales or that of his camels!
If you are to talk of fighting corruption in the Libyan state, let us start with your fundings. Saif’s motives may be geniuine but whether he likes or not he is living in the shadow of his father’s rein and he will have to do quite a lot to prove that he really has the well-being of his fellow Libyans at heart. This may sound unfair, but Saif’s way of doing things is not helping.

It does not take a genius to decide that Libyans are not living in a paradise land, or that Libya is one of the most inefficient and corrupt states in the world and that the country is going no where fast if it continues under the same tyranny of Saif’s father.

I could not have put it better that Ali KeddI who recently said that Saif is manoeuvring to occupy the position of opposition in Libya. I will add that Saif himself and his sister have tried over the last few years to fill the vacuum in the civil society organisations in Libya; human right organisations, charities, health and welfare charities etc. I can not help thinking that all this was with the blessings of Ghadaffi, the father, trying to slip the carpet from underneath any national opposition or any primitive attempt at building a civic society or functional NGOs in Libya.

The Muslims brotherhood response to Saif’s speech was sad. Here we see one of the main so-called opposition groups giving a carte blanch to Saif and his organisation. They justify that by saying that what Saif is saying is “in the interest” of Libyans!
Oh yes! Ghadaffi, the father, still claims after all these years that he has only done what he did in Libya in the interest of ordinary Libyans!
For a main Libyan opposition group to capitulate in this way is really amazing and will probably indicate that we Libyans have a lot yet to learn even after all these years when it comes to politics. You should have been pushing and prodding and asking for more from the regime instead of accepting the crumps that he throughs at you.

Another pathetic view is that of Mr M. Buiseer when he says that the 70’s, and 80’s were a period that had its justifications! What? Executions, torture and a country going to the dogs justified?! You are committing Libya to more of the same if you justify the crimes that Ghadaffi and his thugs committed against Libyans. And if you can not see a way out or a future to Libya without Ghadaffi the father and his sons, then move over, or better still stay where you are, but please, do not justify or be little Ghadaffi’s on going crimes against Libya. You are insulting thousands of victims.

Many Libyans will probably say, oh well any thing will be an improvement in Libya now, and it can not get any worse! Some others will say, let us see the filled half of glass for now. Well, Libyans can do that, but the fact remains that all Saif Elgadaffi is doing is to pre-empt and abort any genuine national opposition by occupying its frontiers and we as Libyans should not give up our right and duty to shape the future of our country and that of our children.


(1) Perestroika. Etymology: Russian perestroika, literally, restructuring : the policy of economic and governmental reform instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union during the mid-1980s.
(2) Glasnost. Etymology: Russian glasnost', literally, publicity, from glasnyi public, from glas voice, a Soviet policy permitting open discussion of political and social issues and freer dissemination of news and information

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