Not my Op-Position

Mabruk Derbesh

Within the media today, an expression common in the political world, ‘Libyan oppositions’, is a term for one of the various gaffes most analysts were warned against at the start of the Libyan war. To get a sense of the conflict, one must stop and wonder: Who are the Libyan opposition? What construct is unifying their recognized debunking? Has the victory changed their tendency to oppose?
Obviously, a war of oppositions is what had occurred in Libya. Each stumbling stride both opposition and government forces take, they deeper find themselves barraged in a quagmire none of them comprehend making it more probable that this conflict will end in forced and pragmatic unions on both sides. However, for the opposition, it will bring into being precisely the state it set out to destroy; the undeniable incompetency of a government whose most notable attribute is its inability to rule.
At the beginning, many in the west were betting on an end scenario to Libya’s crisis as justification for what is taking place now. This teleological notion is based on sporadic, frequent occurrence of sequence of objective, and goal setting adaptive nature, in order to reach desirable conclusions is far from reality when it comes to Libyans.
One cannot appreciate what has transpired without being entrenched deep in the Libyan psyche, where many have been left feeling ignored by their own government and regarded as an after-thought. The government in Libya has systematically pursued a policy of indifference to legitimate voices of dissent and critical thoughts. In fact, the political organism was based on a demagogic notion that people will prosper under a prevalent democratic medium that works as a single umbrella for all political activities. Let alone the fact that this notion is a loose hypothesis that is wide open to interpretation; it conveys a built-in oxymoronic implication. This failed belief has made it intricate for other voices to advocate their views and political inspiration. After all, why would anyone look beyond the paradigm of people’s will? One can argue that the main malfunction was not due to the discourse but the overtly practiced antithesis. People would meet and make decisions but none see the light of day.
Again, this has presented the Libyan case as an odd one. Unlike what had transpired in Tunisia and Egypt, many people in the eastern part of Libya, For example, went out to dislodge any reference to the governing state. For decades, they were estranged to the government that they thought of it as an occupation, and therefore, their protest, transformed soon after to a form of a militant liberation movement. This just further lauds the size of anger and discontent between people and their ruling entity. Regardless of what we think of the conflict, it has unveiled many of the laminated flagrant failures by government policies and inability to connect with the significantly impacted demographic, throughout the years. Government institutions, for the lack of a better word, embraced all the ingredients of your usual Arabic political and financial corruption. On top of that, its executive body lacked political and social intelligence, governing skills, and aptitude to lead. For about 20 years the helm of the People’s Parliament was led by one of Gadaffi’s cousins, who systematically fought any progressive movement, and brutally denied all voices of change.
These politically intolerable practices were always criticized by many of the society intellectuals and young Revolutionary Committee Movement (RCM) members, the lone loosely constructed political forum in the country, and for decades, these within-dissident voices were silenced, banished, or prevented from taking governmental posts. When Saif El Islam came about in 2006, to call for reform, these young intellectuals saw a glimpse of hope. Saif, called for political, societal, and economic reforms. His emergence was just perfect and messiah-like, or that is what we all thought. Many of the change-thirsty young intellectuals empowered: Gathafi’s son is on our side, now we can wage a war on all corruption, fatcats, or soon to be one, political rats, tribal proponents, et. al. Well, not so fast, this was just not meant to be. Little did we know. Saif ‘s cronies had worked very hard to stifle any meaningful dialogue. In fact, he and his friends joined forces with the very corrupt to marginalize the role and efforts put together by many of the young RCM leadership group. He, stemming from an unbelievable sense of arrogance towards local professional capital, political or otherwise, went overseas and looked for a so-called opposition voices and gave them high paid official posts. These newly imported officials, and in less than year, became the Libyan New-money. Back in January of this year I had a long conversation with the Minister of Tourism. He told me, when pressed him about unlocking the industry, that the industry is already unlocked, but no one except Saif al Islam’s friends would receive a business license. It was a pattern of cronyism that was repeated time and again. According to the WSJ, one of Saif’s college friends, who conveniently later defected, Mustafa Zerti, the de facto executive of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) was directly responsible for the unexplainable losses of 98% of options related investments, a total of 1.3B, in a Goldman Sachs conveyed financial bet. Mr. ElEsawi, who has since switched sides, is now traveling on private jets between capitals, paid for by Libyan money, and acts as the TNC foreign minister, was once one of Saif’s made man.
Many of us who kept on speaking out were harshly treated, mocked continuously, and negatively labeled as “New Liberals”, and once more were forced to stay away or take on another voluntary banishment.
Now, came these new events, and although they were inevitable and reasons behind them are real and very legitimate, the fragile union we see between those corrupt fixtures rebranded as dissidents in the umbrella of TNC body is far from natural. This coupling of spectrums is boundless and counterproductive to Libya’s future. Many of its members are the ones befriended Saif El Gathafi in an effort to inflate and manufacture their political personas. In fact, an argument can be made about them being behind the unfair practices that led Libyan youth to revolt in the first place. Moreover, most of the defected diplomats were a byproduct of corrupt administrative policies and nepotism. It is ironic to see Mr. Shelgum, Tripoli’s former UN ambassador, defecting from Gadaffi’s government, where he was one the symbols of its administrative corruption at the Libyan foreign office, which he led for more than 15 years. I recall an incident in 2008, when I sternly criticized the Libyan diplomatic body in an interview by Al Arab newspaper, Shelgum refused to even entertain some of my concerns and other’s. To his defense, the Libyan political environment did not entertain any national concerns. There are many unfavorable stories told in Libyan corners about most of the defectors to the Transitional National Council (TNC) proclaimed position. The TNC position of taking in any one who feels like ship-jumping is in itself a call for concern and renders a lack of sincerity and understanding of the state we are in.
On one hand we have a well-documented incompetent government, and on the other, we are faced with an emergence of an opposition entity that lacks cohesiveness and dedication to basic liberty, as we know it. They are driven by a sense of entitlement and enticed by a long deep revenge. We may be witnessing the dawn of new guards honed by old ghosts’ tactics and inheritance. According to an inquiry by UN Human Rights Council, rebel forces has, as well as government ones, committed acts that constituted as war crimes.
The question that is persisting today, and tomorrow will polarized people even further when the dust settles is: Who are these Libyan opposition really? Who can put a claim over this elusive content? Is Libyan opposition being hijacked? The notion that this newly constructed version of opposition voices, we see on the airwaves, is representative of dignified political legitimacy is a laughable concept, to say the least.
Most intellectuals and academics in the country are with change that is long overdue. However, much of the tactics used by the TNC, who now has a west-sponsored claim over the term, does not resemble or reflect Libyan sentiments. Real and well-rooted opposition is somewhere in the middle and will eventually prevail. The TNC has forcibly taking ownership of the Libyan opposition state, but many Libyans feel otherwise.
The future of Libya will heavily depends on those who you may call independents, who in turn, will hold the cards to sway the nation to its core competency: Free and viable society that is. Until then, Libyans believe that this conflict and loss of Libyan lives on both sides is far from finished, as many hidden and voiced political interests, in their present intertwining, may eventually collide and by that further prolong the “statu quo”.
After the dust settles, Libyan people will choose neither loathsome and will hold both accountable for what has transpired in Libya. This conflict is far from over, and the question is: Will there be a third position? An opposition to both!