Cry for democracy By Mahmoud Al-Nakou - Tuesday, March 01, 2011

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THE freedom fighters who have been met with the most brutal, inhumane and criminal antics of Col Muammar Qadhafi come from all sections of Libyan society. Qadhafi has tried to win over some Libyans by promising them immense riches, on one occasion even physically showering them with bundles of cash.

However, the people now control the major part of Libya — with new groups, tribes and leaders disavowing their links with Qadhafi and announcing their stand alongside the revolution virtually every hour.

While Qadhafi’s partial grip on the capital Tripoli remains in place, people now realise that they have passed the point of no return: either topple him or be killed. They also realise that Qadhafi’s recent speeches and tactics show a desperate dictator who has almost entirely lost control. This opportunity will never come round again in their lifetime.

Over the last week, a steady stream of former leaders of the Qadhafi regime have deserted him and declared allegiance to the Libyan people and to the revolution. Many have spoken of their utter disgust at his order to shoot and kill demonstrators. A number of generals appeared on camera stating their disbelief at the orders to launch fighter jets against unarmed civilians demonstrating on the streets.

Despite the heavy sacrifice they are offering every day, Libyans utterly reject any foreign intervention, even for their defence and protection. From the outset, Qadhafi warned his overthrow would make Libya the same horrific, chaotic arena that Iraq and Afghanistan are today. But the people are adamant that this revolution is theirs alone. There is little doubt this determination and resilience comes from the transformation in spirit and atmosphere across the Arab region after the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. This new spirit is locally produced and nurtured, refusing to be western-driven or influenced. Its aim is not only to return Libya to a state where transparency, democracy, pluralism, freedom and fairness prevail, but to restore its standing in the world. Its relations with the West must be based on mutual recognition, shared and common interests and parity, not the old ways of a relationship built on corrupt dealings, fear and abuse.

Hundreds of thousands of Libyans have studied and lived in Europe and the US in the decades since oil was discovered, and those highly educated individuals yearn for a productive, cooperative and collaborative relationship with the West. Make no mistake, post-Qadhafi Libya will require a healthy link with western governments and companies to benefit from their technology, skills and expertise, while the West needs our immense natural and mineral riches.

Until then the liberation of Libya, street by street and town by town, goes on unabated. Already, a number of towns and cities have declared independence from Qadhafi’s regime and have begun in earnest the job of running their daily affairs.

Community committees and councils of the elders have already been established in Benghazi, Musrata and Zawiyah, to help restore life and normality in anticipation of the fall of Tripoli and the complete removal of Qadhafi and his inner circle.

The fear expressed by some international commentators that Libya will fall into the hands of extremists is totally unfounded.

The very nature of Libyan society will not allow it. There is little doubt that Islam as a faith, culture and identity runs strongly through our heritage and tradition, but violence and extremism are foreign.
— The Guardian, London

The writer is a Libyan author living in London.

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