Where is the equilibrium in the response to Ben Galbone’s analysis?
The series of articles by Ben Galbone, in particular the most recent  has forced the exposure of a poor scene of credibility in our small dwindling “Libyan opposition community”. The varied range of response included a few positive comments, but was mainly led by a small number of eager writers who saw an opportunity to divert a unique chance to hold a valuable debate into an excuse to hurl offensive writings and vent personal resentment (mostly and cowardly behind fictitious names). Judging by the comments that appeared on the Libyan web sites, the recent article by Ben Galbone was resented some, irrationally belittled by some and apparently ignored by others. It would indeed be a terrible mistake by the rest of us (who do not have any personal grudges against the writer and judge the article by its significance and importance to our case and cause) to ignore what is happening and not to correct the record. We must not leave to the few driven by private interests to colour the response to the series of articles. Even if one ignores the moral aspect (that the onus is on us to defend an honourable colleague from the shameful acts of our worst), Ben Galbone has in this case and in the past addressed case issues that are important (or should be) to all of us who do not support Gaddafi’s regime. The series of articles has opened a new and unprecedented era in the style of political engagement by Libyan activists and set a new higher standard of commitment to the national cause. The series set a new tone in presenting difficult facts of recent history that shaped the Libyan case in its real dimensions. It describes the fundamental causes of the disastrous course our country has followed since well before Gaddafi’s regime. It named who was really responsible and some who, by action or inaction, contributed to making the outcome we see now inevitable. The accounts make disagreeable reading because the outcome is unpleasant. National causes even though are always much bigger than individuals, they are by nature shaped by the actions of individuals. Sometimes very few individuals. It follows, as demonstrated by the series, that it is impossible to serve the case with sincerity and avoid talking truthfully and frankly about the actions of those who mattered at some point or another. It is not Ben Galbone’s fault if some Libyan notables could not rise above self-interests and calculating politics. It is probably his view that if we are ever going to cause a change in the charted course of our country, we have to drastically change our way of dealing with its politics. It is essential to stop pretending and deal with the facts no matter how difficult or painful that may be. It is beyond reason to blame him for writing accurate history. He was a party to much of he described, he was there. It is absurd for anyone to pass judgement on his testimony unless he (she) was also there. Judging by the names, all of the rampant critics in this episode could not really know the truth.
No doubt the key points of the Ben Galbone’s articles will outlive the barrage of resentful opportunistic correspondence that followed them. The Libyan case (from our point of view) is in desperate times. It needs lifting up from gutters of neglect and hypocrisy and into a different world from the me, me culture with which our political struggle is so much polluted.
Although recent articles by some colleagues and activists have indeed shed new light on relevant issues but in the main the material has been written to settle scores and inflict political harm on adversaries and therefore the final contribution to the case may eventually be limited. On the other hand many high profile debates and public meetings have mostly been staged to advance personal interests and hidden agenda and almost always added damage to the case. We should continuously warn against the pressure to divert true opposition energy into opportunities to discuss/ddebate details with the regime and implicitly endow acceptance and legitimacy.
At this point, responses to the latest article aside, one could ask what will be the legacy of the articles and where the series has positioned the Libyan case now.
In a sense what Ben Galbone1 said in his latest article is this: Gaddafi’s regime and the NFSL are both products of American secret service planners. Gaddafi’s regime was installed in the country pretending to be a successful military coup. Later when it was felt that the regime may not be able to protect itself from the potential Libyan opposition energy, it was decided to create an opposition group with a high profile and unmistakably make it attractive and confident by allowing American support to be explicit. The aim was to specifically secure association of many prominent Libyans and gather together the apparent Libyan opposition energy (human, political and material) into a party, ensure logistic assistance, allow it a run of visible success punctuated with a few high profile heroics and later expire it all by letting it become irrelevant and torn apart by in-fighting, and the rest is known. While it was in its height, the NFSL was merciless with other opposition groups and saw them as rivals, adversaries and potential enemies rather than allies working for the same cause. This inappropriate attitude was practiced openly. It is not a matter of an organization making mistakes but generally was fulfilling its declared aims. The reality was (still is) the party was an organized sink of opposition energy designed to suck in and dissipate potential threat to Gaddafi’s regime in order to ensure its survival through the early period when it was most hated and when the Libyan opposition energy was at its peak. The points to draw from this were, according to Ben Galbone, the tell-tale signs that all was not well were evident in the early 80s (from the start) and all attempts made to draw attention to the serious problems were ferociously challenged by the NFSL supporters. From this distance one can only assume that they were prepared to trust the promises of foreign secret service workers and completely reject warnings by fellow compatriots. It was as if the foreign operators were more trusted guardians (in the eyes of the NFSL leaders) of our country’s future than Ben Galbone and the Libyan Institutional Union. Of course we now know much more about the real reasons. The full legacy of this part of opposing Gaddafi remains to be seen, but it is likely to be extremely serious if not terminal to the Libyan opposition activities as we knew it.
According to what we know now, it is entirely possible that Gaddafi himself was a party to the plan, but not the ranks beneath him. It would indeed be a personal tragedy if he was not aware that he was placed in power (until later that is). He quickly became proficient in playing the role of a revolutionary came to challenge the big powers. He was allowed to “play” as long as he continued to wreck the country’s infrastructure, keep others away from power (by physically liquidating them) and prepare the ground for future phases that fit the plan. We now know that the protection of Gaddafi and the regime went much further inside the country. Continuous surveillance of communications and activities of military officers and passing on of the gathered intelligence to Gaddafi was necessary to foil the countless coup attempts. This helpful hand exposed countless attempts to overthrow Gaddafi by internal military means. It would not be beyond the possible that the guardians of the plan went a step further. They (through mysterious routes) deluded some disaffected military officers to entertain ideas of toppling Gaddafi only to betray them and give them away at the critical point. This was a perfect way to establish and repeatedly confirm the need for their continuous protection and demonstrate control of events inside the country, actually inside the armed forces upon which Gaddafi depended to maintain his grip on power. It was all done at the expense of Libyan human resources. Thus Gaddafi’s continuation in power became dependent on the foreign security institutions helping hand, specifically close friends of prominent Libyan opposition parties. The scene was much worse than a nightmare than would not end. It is now a nightmare and a disaster but we are awake and powerless.
The two parts of the plan fed on each other in the sense that one was encouraged to act against the other to perfect the play.
One has to ask: can the planners be that good? Well yes, but they were helped by our own in every step of the way. The plan relied on self-interest and personal ambitions being far in front of the list of motives by the actors. The results indicate that all were in plenty.
According to Ben Galbone’s article  and previous material, the two-wing plan for Libya was further supported by additional actions. Any potentially dangerous Libyan opposition institution that acted outside the plan and independently of the American secret services was frustrated with unimaginable force. Access to assistance in the Arab world and outside was blocked with frightening efficiency. The Libyan Constitutional Union was encircled by a web of disinterest and starved of support.
One would expect that any society who is told that your fate was decided by a conspiracy engineered by a foreign power, would want to know more and get to bottom of things. One may expect that they would look for clues, study records and patterns, examine unusual changes, resort to their common sense and flood the internet sites with letters expressing unease and revulsion at the perpetrators and demand explanations. Not us. It is not in us to be moved by such issues. It is a sad indicator because it says that we may not deserve respect. (Indecently, one can respond and make his/her point without resorting to street foul language which some of these characters seem to so much enjoy using. They seem to be bent on normalizing obnoxious speech as our communicating lingo. They obviously do not yet see that this style of writing says more about the writer than the victim).
Interest and passion for our national cause must be expressed by all. One does not have to be a big wheel to participate. All have equal concerns and loyalty to the country. The means are available. There are no excuses. It is our participation to correct, advance the good aspects of the case and indeed to defend our best from our worst that will the measure of our credibility as a society and how much we deserve to be respected.
The deafening silence of the unbiased prominent Libyans to whom facts should matter more than other calculations will be the saddest aspect of this episode. Assuming that there are some of these persons, the absence of their voice adds damage to the case. Ben Galbone has presented facts with far reaching effects on our case. It will be hard to justify nonappearance of those who claim that they really care. Is this not serious enough for them to be involved? Is it beneath their political standards?
Ahmed S. Mesbah
August 30th 2008