Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts (some humorous, some serious) on the death of Qadaffi

Of course, by now, various news agencies have verified that Colonel Muammar El-Qaddafi is dead, killed in his home town of Sirte. 

I am not sure what I am feeling right now. Here are some random thoughts on his demise. 

Has any dictator inspired so many dilemmas about how to spell his name? Ghadafi, Qadafi, Qadaffi, Ghadaffi, two dds or one? two f's or one? Q, G or K? the list goes on and on. I have been thinking at night, before I fall asleep, why more people do not go for the straight phonetic of Kadaphee?

Further, you have to congratulate the man on his audacity to make everyone read his "Green Book." The allusions to Mao are as inescapable, as Qaddafi's arrogance was spectacular. 

From a political perspective, the most important aspect of The Big Q's death is that the rebels can now officially establish a transitional government and officially announce the country's liberation, and schedule elections. Of course, scheduling elections in Egypt has been harder than it sounds.

Some, such as Robert Grenier, suggest that Qaddafi's demise signals the end of Nasserist Arab nationalism. This is an interesting thought. I think a more expansive idea might be that nationalism itself is in its end days. Meanwhile, regionalism is an increasingly more important concept, recalling the Ottoman empire, which encompassed Libya, Tunisia and Morocco on its very periphery. It is interesting that in a way Qaddafi was important to actually helping found Libya as a distinct nation.

Many in Sub-Saharan Africa are mourning Qaddafi's death. He was very generous with African countries, building mosques, hotels, and telecommunications companies. Honestly, I cannot help but be impressed at how long he kept the rebels on the run, despite their strong support from NATO. You have to admire the Q man's tenacity. Okay, maybe you do not, but I am impressed at how long he hung in there.

The real question for the new Libya is who are the rebels?

Furthermore, given that we here in Egypt are struggling to get our first democratic election off the ground, the road ahead for Libya may not be as easy as it looks right now, and jubilation may be premature.

However, as I always tell my friends, when you are happy, laugh out loud, and when you are sad, let those salty tears run down your face. Feel what you are feeling, because who knows what the next moment will bring?

Selected Sources

Muammar Gaddafi killed as Sirte falls, Al
Gaddafi: Death of an era, dawn of an era, Al
Violent End to an Era as Qaddafi Dies in Libya, New York Times

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