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The Reconciliation Of The Wolf And The Lamb, Revisited

Below(*) is an article I wrote on May 10th, 2003 (letters section), which I find most of it relevant today. For the last three years the regime has been sending mixed signals to Libyans. From the February 17th bloody signal to the August 20th rosy signal, the evasive wolves seem to speak truthfully with their guns and speak falsely via a ventriloquist.

Salah Mogherbi

*   *   *

(*) It seems that there are those who think that the lamb could be saved from being totally devoured by the wolf. To prevent the annihilation of the lamb, some see the necessity of coaxing the wolf into trimming its own claws so the lamb can have some peace grazing the land.

It is clear that the regime needs to trim its terror machine claw, economic claw, and political claw before any one can speak of change in Libya. First, people need to be protected from persecution and to feel safe and secure in their daily lives. Second, the economic activities and oil revenues have to be geared toward the benefit of the majority instead of the very small and greedy minority. Third, the political system has to move from being dominated by the ruling clan, the opportunistic, and the sycophants to providing real political participation to the people. This is the litmus test for the regime. So far the regime has accumulated dismal records and has failed all tests of accountability. Meanwhile, the wolf continues to control the grazing grounds and to suck the bosoms of our land voraciously.

So, is this regime capable of producing any permanent changes in its policies that would bring a measured reprieve to the people? Are there moderate forces within the regime that can be trusted in initiating and sustaining such a reprieve? Does any individual or grouping of the Diaspora have the legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of the Libyan people?

The regime is under internal and external pressures to do something different in order to maintain the statuesque. The regime has been using crude and primitive tools of oppression to guarantee total economic and political subjugation of the people. The changing international scene is becoming a “gathering danger” and forcing the regime to adapt to the new realities. The measures taken so far are mere cosmetics intended to polish the image of the regime while maintaining the old control. It is clear that any changes introduced by the ruling clan would be the result of outside pressure rather than the regimes’ own convictions. Furthermore, the regime does not have political factions, moderate or otherwise, to which one can attribute any weight or influence. What we have are individuals who speak moderately to justify their position and shore up their bleak future. Experience has revealed that the same ‘moderates’ can turn into kidnappers lurking under the shadows of the pyramids and the half-closed eyes of the pharos.

The idea of coaxing the wolf to live with shorter claws is an illusion. It is an illusion because it is not supported by any facts on the ground, and because there is no force of the Diaspora that has the weight or influence to exert such a coaxing. The road to any possible reprieve has to start inside Libya and be initiated by the regime. The people might not have the means to articulate their position, but they do understand the basic steps that would improve and bring some stability to their shattered lives. So if the regime is serious and if there are moderates let them speak to the people inside Libya directly and offer them something tangible, measurable, and sustainable. If the regime is serious why does not it for once wear a Libyan face, rather than hiding behind its Arab-face, African-face, or Mussolini-face.

The problem does not require mediation from outside, the people know their immediate needs and the regime knows what to do to provide these basic needs. The Diaspora has a role to play, but it cannot negotiate on behalf of the Libyan people or absolve the regime from its historical culpability. Any individual or a group can formulate demands and negotiate with any representative of the regime, and can go back to Libya and join any promised reform project. But it has to be clear that this is a personal or group choice that cannot be predicated on the interest of the Libyan people and cannot imply the end of the schism between the regime and the people. Moreover, individuals or groups from the Diaspora are free to foresee themselves protecting the regime’s tent from any possible “desert storm”, but they cannot sell us the tent as Libya or the storm as a sure propeller of the reconciliation between the wolf and the lamb.

This is not ‘All or Nothing’ stand, nor is it a nihilistic tendency willing to sacrifice the lamb in order to kill the wolf. In fact, this is a realistic view based on the reality of both the Diaspora and the regime. It is important to pressure the regime and put demands on it; however, let us not confuse wishful thinking, political and ideological calculations, and our impotence and frustration with the real interest of the Libyan people.

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