The reasons behind the revolt in Libya

Seriously, the spark that has ignited the revolt in Libya is an outcry for democracy and against corruption?

The media tend to limit the reasons for the rise of the insurgents to the hunger for freedom of Libya. The Arab mass media because they hate Gaddafi and the West because assume that everyone wishes for his country a democratic regime like ours.

In the case of Tunisia and Egypt, they are right. The capitals of these two countries have been the hub of the peaceful protests for change. People came out on the street with a unanimous outcry for freedom, and the ball has become bigger and bigger to the point of forcing the leave of the respective presidents. Instead, change in Libya has begun at the provinces, far from the center of power, one that overnight went from trying to benefit from the regime to confront it violently.

In order to understand the specific changes that are going on in Libya, we should better know a little of its recent history. Unlike their neighbors, the colonial power there left was little trace. The elites of Tripoli were not westernized culture or ideologically to the same extent that new Frenchified in Algiers or Tunis. This allowed them to keep the force and structure of the tribal ties prior to the arrival of the Italians, at the expense of a central authority. For this reason, although it may seem paradoxical, Gaddafi’s speech which advocates the power of the masses against the power of the state apparatus fits well with the tribal structure, which is an assembly to some extent, commitment to self-ruling and does not want to depend on higher powers.

Thus, regardless of the different political ideologies which are identified within the Libyans, most of the society pays allegiance to his tribe, like the soldiers who have abandoned these days the discipline of the army. In fact, getting a job or attaining a certain economic status primarily depends on the protection offered by the tribe. So, if the heads of a tribe decided to get up in arms, automatically, all members of that community take the streets with their rifles.

Many tribes feel marginalized in the sharing of oil revenues, while those who co-led the dictatorship with Gaddafi clan for four decades, aspire to have even more power. The winds of change that run through North Africa, plus some last-minute eccentricity, like the assassination of a head of a major Arab tribe that had traditionally supported Gaddafi at the hands of one of the sons of the Colonel, have convinced the tribes to do not support the dictator any more and make him fall through an attempted coup. Now, Gaddafi only has the support of a few Amazigh (Berber) tribes, peculiarly belonging to a culture that the Colonel considers a myth created by colonial powers to divide the Nord-African population.

Once the Gaddafi resistance dies smothered by the international blockade or the Colonel has been jailed or executed, a second stage of the tribal struggle for control of oil revenues will start. We hope that this time it will be no violent and it’s developed in a scenario of greater freedom and respect for human rights.

Author: Jordi Llaonart


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