Neo-Opposition: Do not help Secretary Rice sign off our (little) hopes
Secretary Rice’s visit to Libya is probably the rounding step of the last phase of refashioning Gaddafi into the “statesman” with a tolerable image the USA wants the rest of the world to see in their new allay. So far it has to be said that the rehabilitation process has gone well. Big G’s state visit to Europe early this year is evidence for what has been achieved. The overt effort by the USA to upgrade relations with Gaddafi should worry those of us who still cling to hopes of a return to Constitutional rule. Constitutional with a capital “C”, not the fakes we will almost certainly hear about in due course.
A hidden objective in the designing process is to legitimize the illegal regime and transform it and the leader to be in the eyes of the rest as a sort of a normal structure not including the associated disgraces but including new elegances such as partnership in the fight against terrorism (this sells good back home), a bit of human rights pretences and almost certainly some sort of a democratic display. Incidentally, watching TV news clips, it has to be said that it is quite difficult to imagine how big G can ever appear normal. One has to be completely abnormal to see that mess as anything but bizarre. This part may well prove to be a challenge too far even for the dazzling Secretary Rice.
In view of the expected criteria of a “normal democratic state” that Secretary Rice can sell to folks back home and forced on the rest, the Libyan neo-opposition need to be convinced (if not already have been) to take part in the “transformed political process” in Libya and do their opposing activities at home. The neo-opposition is a relatively new breed of Libyan activists who toy with the idea of resolving differences with Gaddafi and become part of the ruling structure in Libya. In other words they do not really have a problem with Gaddafi’s regime; they just want to have a share of the cake. They are an ideal element (designer opposition one might say?) for the current phase. As far as Secretary Rice is concerned, multi-party democracy is what folks back home understand and value and it should be given to them so that the rest of the (the real) business can continue. It is time now for big G and Sons to look democracy. They can read about it later if they want to. The Libyan neo-opposition is now needed.
Remember in the 1980s another brand of opposition was required, so some was made. It is not difficult. Folks from Libya are very helpful when it comes to politics, selling and buying principles. The neos are now needed, because the little plan requires some sort of Libyans who have a record of opposing stuff and understand a thing or two about democracy, especially the phrase our folks understand and make good TV interviews. They are the essential ingredient to put the picture together. The country must have a sort of multi-party political structure with opposition guys appearing on TV and that sort of stuff. And it is lucky that some have already prepared themselves (been prepared even, same thing). Mentors may well be encouraging them to shape up and get ready.
Our neo-opposition compatriots should be told that if they help Secretary Rice construct a fake democracy in Libya to meet her country’s interests, they will have declared that our Constitution is worthless and will be remembered by making a significant contribution to legitimize Gaddafi’s regime. The neos will be responsible for a politically shameful crime of grave national consequences. We, the Constitutionalists, will remind them of their actions for as long as we can write. They should know that Secretary Rice cannot have our political interests in mind. Despite of the declared policies, she only serves her people, her country, her economy. Our country, our Constitution, our future are no factors in her calculations. It is doubtful if she ever heard of our 1951 Constitution. We may not expect Secretary Rice or anyone else to do our fight for a return to our Constitutional rule, but we do demand that our own people not play politics with it. If they do not see the connection between what they are doing and the legitimacy question, they should stop and think. If they do not see how important the question of the 1951 Constitution to what Secretary Rice is trying to achieve, they should just think for a moment how the Americans value their constitution. The neos must not, must not rely on their own judgment. If they believe that it is smart to have a dialogue with Gaddafi, then it is plain that their judgment is not sound, it is gravely flawed.
Most people are ready to die for their constitution. Some of us Libyans cannot wait to put ours to a final death. Have we not learnt anything worthwhile when it comes to political principles?
Critical steps in the road of remodeling the country to suit long-term planning include erasing all memory of the Constitution and regularizing Gaddafi and the regime in the eyes of the rest of the world. We might not be strong enough to stop the process, but are we not even decent enough to refrain from helping it happen? The rest of us non-neos can make it a little uncomfortable for Secretary Rice and the structure behind her by exposing the truth, particularly to their own folks who are told different stories.
Ahmed S. Mesbah