As the Gaddafi regime slowly crumbles there are many questions to ask about what comes next both there and in the broader region. What will be the nature of the government which takes over from the former dictator? Will it be a tolerant one? Will it be democratic or at least more inclusive than Gaddafi’s was? Or will it be a captive Islamist regime? I ask these questions because it is very important both for Libya and for the region that there not be bloodletting in the aftermath of the soon to be ex-ruler’s fall. As Ban Ki Moon has said today, he should be handed over to the ICC for trial. There should be no blood vengeance against Gaddafi, his family, or members of the former élite as tempting as it may be for those who suffered to take it out on them.
The Israeli government and the anti-Islamic far-right is eager for Libya to lapse into chaos. This would prove their certainty at the perfidy of Arabs and Muslims, their certainty that there can never be peace with them. This will in turn reinforce the Occupation and continue the bloodshed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As Gaddafi falls, Tom Lehrer would be singing the lyrics to his song, Who’s Next. Surely it is Bashar al Assad of Syria. His opponents are legion, they are brave, they are unarmed, they are fearless. They deserve freedom. But they have not raised an army as the Libya resistance did. The only way to use force to topple Assad would be if Turkey wishes to use its own army to do so, which is questionable. Certainly, NATO will not get involved. Barring the use of force, it may take quite a while for Assad to fall. It would require more of the élite to desert him and even more forceful and popular resistance.
But certainly, in essence, Assad no longer rules Syria. He has no government that rules the entire country. There is a restless patchwork of regions and towns in varying stages of rebellion. As soon as one rebellion comes to a boil, the army marches in, slaughters a few dozen, and then moves on to the next restive town or city. This is certainly not governing. So it’s only a matter of time before Assad goes, but go he will eventually.
The question becomes what sort of government will replace him? As far as Israel is concerned, it’s even more critical that the new rulers emulate the Egyptian model by ruling in a moderate fashion that eschews violence or revenge. It is also important that the Muslim Brotherhood not take sole control of the country, since that too would play into the hands of Israel’s extreme right. A new regime would also likely reject Assad’s alliance with Iran, which also would be a positive development for overall peace in the region.
I recently read that Iran is furious with the Hamas leadership in Damascus because it has withheld support for Assad in his hour of need. In return, Iran has turned off the spigot to the Palestinian Islamist group preventing it from paying salaries in Gaza this month. Also, Assad recently attacked the Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus in a clear message to Hamas that he was unhappy with its retreat from him. I don’t believe the Syrian dictator wanted a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until Israel gave him back the Golan. So Assad was an obstacle to I-P peace.
The fall of Assad holds out hope that a new Syrian government might exert a moderating influence on Hamas leading to a potential resolution of the conflict with Israel, though I realize that this is an uncertain prospect.
Israel, in turn, should not expect Syria to be as restrained as Assad was in keeping a lid on anti-Israel sentiment within the country. A new Syrian government, possibly in alliance with Turkey and Egypt, could exert formidable pressure on Israel to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This can only be a good thing.
“I recently read that Iran is furious with the Hamas leadership in Damascus because it has withheld support for Assad in his hour of need. In return, Iran has turned off the spigot to the Palestinian Islamist group preventing it from paying salaries in Gaza this month. ”
You do believe anything “anonymous western diplomats” say – right?
What a rubish post.
Deïr Yassin says
“Assad recently attacked the Palestinian refuge camp in Damascus in a clear message to Hamas that he was unhappy with the retreat from him”
I think this is a wrong analysis:
First, the refugee camp is in Latakia, on the coast south of the Turkish border, and the troubles there go back to the beginning of the Syrian uprising. The siege of Latakia started in March when clashes resulting in 12 dead were blamed by the regime on the Palestinians in the camps, accused of “wanting to fuel sectarian strife” in Latakia. (The Ben Ali and Mubarak propaganda of foreign manipulation recycled).
Ahmed Jibril, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command denied all Palestinian implication.
On August 13th the regime launched a new attack on Latakia, the Palestinian refugee camps were not the primary targets, but the most vulnerable link and geographically exposed and thousands have fled:
In June there were killing in the Yarmouk refugee camp close to Damascus but these were inter-palestinian and were linked to the anger of families after the Naksa-killings, and were also turned against the PFLP-General Command.
Syria is not really a stronghold for Hamas-supporters, and historically, the Palestinians there have mostly been supporters of the left-wing factions.
The Israeli government and the anti-Islamic far-right is eager for Libya to lapse into chaos.
Gaddaffi, as far as Israel was concerned wasn’t a serious threat.
His vision of Middle East peace comprised of a one state solution, rather than the two state one. He said it should be called “Israstine” with equal rights for all.
It is also important that the Muslim Brotherhood not take sole control of the country, since that too would play into the hands of Israel’s extreme right.
Why should it? After all they want a theocracy too 🙂
They’ll have a firmer grounding if there are more theocracies in the region, than more democracies.
This is probably one of the best places for the latest in Libya
Libya Live Blog
“A new regime would also likely reject Assad’s alliance with Iran”
Maybe. But while Israel continues to hold on to the Golan, Damascus will continue to have a strong incentive to enter into anti-Israeli alliances, regardless of who is in power.
” I don’t believe the Syrian dictator wanted a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until Israel gave him back the Golan. So Assad was an obstacle to I-P peace.”
Another way of looking at this is that Israel’s 44-year illegal occupation of the Golan is an obstacle to regional peace.
Zhu Bajie says
The fall of a political regime is always a good time to even up old scores, rape/rob/torture/kill those one is bigoted against, rob banks, plunder museums/offices, etc. Just like after the Falls of Baghdad, Berlin, Nanjing, etc.! Expect lots of these things in Libya. It’d be worse in Syria.
Zhu Bajie, melancholy historian