Tuesday, 23 August 2011


“Ισχύς μου, η αγάπη του λαού.” - Γεώργιος Α' (βασιλέας των Ελλήνων)
“My strength is the love of my people.” – George I, King of the Greeks

The situation in Libya has become critical in the last few days. The complete social upheaval that has been caused by the revolutionary insurgence is finally reaching a point where the fate of the whole country will be determined in a matter of weeks if not days. Moammar Gadhafi, the country’s present head of state has found himself in the unenviable situation of being surrounded by rebel forces with his power being diminished to his immediate staff and Libya’s control effectively in rebel hands. This marks the end of a 42-year-long reign and potentially the end of his dynastic control of the country, as his heirs will no doubt share his fate.

As hundreds of Libyan rebels blasted through the green gates of Moammar Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli today after five hours of intense fighting around it, they beat and killed some of those who defended it, fired celebratory shots in the air and hauled off crates of weapons and trucks with guns mounted on the back. The capture of the sprawling compound in the capital, had a substantive as well as symbolic significance. The storming of the seat of power of a leader effectively marks the downfall of the man as well as his regime. An iconic picture of rebels astride a monumental statue of a golden fist clutching an enemy warplane is immediately visible as proof of the overthrow of the old regime.

Pockets of resistance are likely to persist around the country for some time, even if the seat of power is controlled by the rebel forces. What is surprising is that the rebels advanced so rapidly into Tripoli, quickly capturing large parts of the city of 2 million in what was a lightning attack characterised by precision and effectiveness. Even though his compound is in rebel hands, Gadhafi’s whereabouts are still unknown, the leader having been driven underground and hiding out, possibly planning a counter-attack, however ineffectual this may be at this stage, or more likely looking for a way to escape the country.

The quote I started this entry with is significant. Any leader is only as strong as his supporters make him. The more the people supporting him are and the greater their love for him, the stronger the leader is and it is unlikely that he will be unseated. Lacking the loyalty of a significant number of supporters, a leader either topples or has to resort to becoming a dictator or a tyrant, clinging onto power through intimidation, torture, a vast propaganda machine and the support of a small but effective armed force that controls the country through terrorisation of the people. This is a situation that is unfortunately common both historically and geographically around the world.

The only problem that such a dictator or tyrant has to deal with in the fullness of time is that the populace will only remain subjugated for so long. Straw upon straw of repression, torture, suppression of civil liberties and the trampling of human rights will lead to the breaking of the camel’s back and a revolution will occur. Blood is shed, people’s fury is unleashed and in most cases the dictator is deposed. This is seen in the cases of even the so-called “benevolent dictators” as any form of dictatorship is perceived as a repressive regime that stifles free choice and the now universally revered ideal in government, true democracy.

The power vacuum that has been generated with Gadhafi’s downfall will need to be filled quickly if Libya is to become a modern country with a fair and honest government that truly looks after the interests of her people. As the rebel forces are not organised into functional political forces and as there is no charismatic universal leader, the scrabble for leadership in post-Gadhafi Libya will no doubt be the cause of further strife and conflict. I hope that someone emerges as a strong and fair leader that will give the people what has been denied them for so long and ensure that prosperity will ensue in a country that has rich energy resources.

The photograph above by Bob Strong is of a young boy who suffered a broken arm in a missile attack stands at the entrance to the main teaching hospital after Libyan rebel fighters pushed pro-Khadafy soldiers out of Zawiyah on August 20, 2011. It highlights for me the very real victims of the conflict in Libya. The people are suffering and innocent children such as this lucky one who survived, and some unfortunate ones who did not are paying an awful price for man’s ambition, greed, hate, corruption and fanaticism.


  1. "Gadhafi said his withdrawal from his headquarters in the heart of the capital was a tactical move after it had been hit by 64 NATO air strikes and he vowed 'martyrdom' or victory in his fight against the alliance.He was speaking to a Tripoli radio station and his whereabouts after leaving the compound remain a mystery."

  2. Those poor children in Libya and every other war zone! They have had their childhood robbed from them. If they survive they will have childhood memories full of terror, sadness and despair...

  3. 21 October 2010: Gadhafi dead. Found hiding like a rat in a sewer.