Bad interventions, and a few good ones– which was Libya?

The Qaddafi family is apparently about to fall in Libya, and I am still not sure exactly what I think about the Western military intervention to support the rebels.
What does it matter what I, an American citizen with no special knowledge of Libya, think? Libyan citizens are not being asked whether Americans should continue to support Barack Obama in the 2012 elections, turn to the Republicans, or back a third party.
It is a sign of the unjust, unequal world that we live in that my opinion about Libya does matter, and theirs (about the U.S. elections) doesn’t. My government, along with European powers, intervened in the Libyan conflict, using my tax money to support one side. I should have an informed view by now, shouldn’t I?
A huge part of the problem, which is never mentioned on the 24-hour cable channels, is sheer ignorance. Professor Mark Mazower, in a thoughtful article in the Guardian, points out: “It would be reassuring if one thought that policy-makers in Washington and London knew anything about places like Libya; the fact is that there are probably fewer than a dozen people across the university system of both countries who do.” (And Bernard-Henri Levy, the fraudulent French philosopher who claims credit for inspiring the Western military action, is certainly not among the knowledgeable.)
One position is simple: the West should never be allowed to intervene anywhere. This is an honorable and coherent policy, until you come up with even a handful of exceptions. A Western strike force in Rwanda in 1994 could not have prevented but would probably have reduced the genocide. Other successful military interventions, not necessarily by the West, include the Indian invasion of East Pakistan/Bangladesh in 1971, which ended West Pakistan’s slaughter, and the UN-led military force that stopped Indonesia’s mass killing in East Timor in 1999.
But the skeptics rightly point out that interventions can lead to awful tragedy.

One terrible recent example is the 1996-97 Rwandan invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was endorsed, and probably militarily backed, by the United States. The Rwandan invaders carried out mass killings and helped trigger a wider regional war in which millions of innocent Africans have already died.
Back to Libya. I may not be an expert, but I know enough to regard the Qaddafi regime as a loathsome criminal enterprise, which I’m not surprised has finally prompted an armed uprising. I am not a pacifist. But why not stand back and let the Libyan armed rebels make their own history, without intervening and raising legitimate fears over Western imperialism and Libyan oil?
Not so fast. Again, I’m no expert, but I do think that some of Qaddafi’s more recent weaponry comes from the West (after his diplomatic and military relationship with the old Soviet Bloc ended). Qaddafi kept his people unarmed, and a even a small army can maintain control over demonstrators who can fight with only their bare hands. What’s more, the vital campaigning organization Global Witness has exposed the Qaddafi family’s ties to big Western banks and financial institutions. Can’t we regard the Western air strikes against the family, and the weapons supplies to the rebels, as partial compensation for the West’s recent pro-Qaddafi history?
For myself, I’m still uneasy. But my position as a U.S. citizen obliges me to make up my mind.
One final point. The Western mainstream press has spent plenty of time and energy following the uprising in Libya first hand. But most of the coverage has been what journalists themselves describe as “bang-bang” – the sound of bullets and images of destruction with little genuine explanation. As a minimal first step, couldn’t we at least hear more from those “dozen experts” that Professor Mazower mentioned?


Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 42 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Walid says:

    James, had you been listening to Jazeera, you would have had your answer from the start about which were the bad guys and which were the good. It gave us an almost 24-hour per day coverage on the evils of Gaddafi and the need to defeat him. How much more expertise did you need?

    • Kathleen says:

      There are experts who have serious questions about just who the Libyan rebels are. Where missing Libyan weapons stockpiles are.

      missing Libyan weapons. Have they all ready been confiscated by Al Qeada?
      link to

      This is the recent clip on CSpan’s Washington Journal… where Atlantic Monthly’s Steve Clemons brings up Al Qeada’s involvement with Libyan rebels”
      at 11:09

      Steve Clemons” The real area we need to worry about in Libya is out of a group called the former theLibyan Islamic Fighting group. This was a previously Al Qeada affiliated terrorist Islamist extremist group.’
      Greta the host “are they part of the rebellion”

      Steve Clemons “they are part of the rebellion”

      Second in command of Al Qeada recently killed. This guy was originally from Libya. Atiyah abd al Rahman (Jama Ibrahim Ishtawi)
      link to

      Steve Clemons
      link to

      • James North says:

        Kathleen: Thanks for the information and the links.

        • Kathleen says:

          Lots of articles about the questions surrounding where missing Libyan weapons are.

          In the Clemons interview he mentions the Burbur tribes

          Not sure about this one
          link to

          And then this
          link to
          Bin Laden’s key deputy seen as very hard to replace for al Qaeda

          And then doubts about Al Qeada’s number two claimed to be dead
          link to

        • annie says:

          james, i recommend this source for news on libya. i would go to the home page and scroll down and read a few of the posts. for example today:

          Abdelhakim Belhadj And Saif al-Islam Gaddhafi

          The Independent reports today what was to be expected of some of the rebels in Libya:

          Yesterday, The Independent on Sunday learned that the rebel military commander behind the successful assault on Tripoli had fought in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban and was an Islamist terror suspect interrogated by the CIA. Abdelhakim Belhadj, the newly appointed commander of the Tripoli Military Council is a former emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – banned by Britain and the US as a terrorist organisation after the 9/11 attacks.

          Maybe the Independent on Sunday learned this from watching Pepe Escobar who reported it yesterday on Russia TV (video).

          Or maybe Pepe Escobar and the Independent read about this in the piece by Hossam Salama published last Thursday in the English version of Asaraq Al-Awsat:

          Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Abdelhakim Belhadj is the commander of the Libyan rebel Tripoli Military Council; he emerged as a leader during the Libyan rebels’ operation to liberate the Libyan capital from Gaddafi control. Belhadj is also a former Emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was banned internationally as a terrorist organization following the 9/11 attacks.

          Funny how much gets reported without giving credit where its due to those who did the original work.

          But away from that the the issue is interesting because what follows from it. Abdelhakim Belhadj and his fellow LIFG fighters now in charge of Tripoli have personal reasons to hate the U.S. and to like Saif al-Islam. This could further a comeback for Saif.

          Abdelhakim Belhadj (aka Abdelhakim Al-Khoweildy aka Abu Abdullah Assadaq aka Abdallah al-Sadeq) fought with the Mujahedeen against the Soviets, was caught after 9/11 and tortured by the CIA.

          According to Human Rights Watch which later interviewed him in a Libyan prison:

          Malaysian security officials had arrested him on March 3, 2004 and handed him over to the CIA which he says interrogated and tortured him in Thailand. The CIA rendered Abdelhakim Al-Khoweildy to Libya on March 9, 2004.

          In a footnote HRW notices:

          His claims are consistent with what is known about the CIA’s treatment of detainees, …

          In Libya Abdelhakim Belhadj was kept in prison on death row until March 2010 and was released on the insistence of Gaddhafi’s son Saif al-Islam:

          “These releases come in the context of national reconciliation and social peace,” said Mohamed al Allagi, chairman of the human rights committee of the Gaddafi Foundation, the charity which helped organize the release.

          The charity is headed by Saif al-Islam, a reform-minded son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who some analysts say could eventually succeed his father.

          Saif al-Islam has campaigned for reconciliation with Islamists who promise to lay down their arms. His initiative has met resistance from conservatives in his father’s entourage with whom he is competing for influence.

          Saif al-Islam seems to have trusted Abdelhakim Belhadj’s on others claimed conversion to peaceful means. He has some reason to be disappointed by them. But he has even more reason to be disappointed with the “west”.

          In his last public interview Saif al-Islam said that he will join forces with the Islamists:

          “The liberals will escape or be killed,” the son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, vowed in an hourlong interview that stretched past midnight. “We will do it together,” he added, wearing a newly grown beard and fingering Islamic prayer beads as he reclined on a love seat in a spare office tucked in a nearly deserted downtown hotel. “Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?”

          By no means is the rebellion or revolution in Libya over. Lots of things will still happen.

          Saif al-Islam has personally helped to get Abdelhakim Belhadj and many other LIFG folks off the death row and out of prison. He knows them well. They have at least some good reason to be thankful to him.

          The “western” forces that arranged for the current upper hand of the rebels will now try to scheme their ways into installing a pliant puppet regime. The LIFG folks will not like that and Abdelhakim Belhadj will remember who tortured him.

          An expert in the Indipendent says 30% of the rebel front fighters are Islamists. They do have the force and military means to win against the more liberal revolutionaries. They did not join the rebellion for seculatity, liberty or democracy. If Gaddhafi or his son can get some of their constituency to join with them, there may well be a comeback to the top for at least Saif al-Islam.

          Posted by b on August 28, 2011 at 01:41 PM | Permalink

          lots of supporting links embedded. here’s another recent libya post from the same blog.

          don’t miss the Pepe Escobar video link

        • Walid says:

          Annie, if we go by what the US has done in Egypt to bring the Brotherhood and Salfists into the fold, we can imagine what it has done and what it’s doing with the fundies in Libya that make up a lot of the fighting insurgents already armed by the US and given air support by NATO. So despite Saif al-Islam appearing to be finding a new religion and a new gang and his having liberated some of these fundie fighters, in the end they will remain loyal to their fundie cause and to the to the US that helped them. The US relationship to the Taliban and its offshoots go a long ways back.

        • annie says:

          walid, i believe the US has done a lot to empower extremists in the ME as a tactic toward creating instability in which to justify their continued plunder of resources. i’m to the extreme far end of the spectrum wrt imagining the depths of depravity wrt psychological warfare and other nefarious means. far end, so much so i wouldn’t place my views in a forum like this.

        • Kathleen says:

          Linked that Pepe Escobar above and on another thread. Do not know anything about Escobar.. Is he reliable? If what he is reporting is true and our MSM does not touch this we know they are covering for Obama and Nato

        • Kathleen says:

          It is off over at Prof Cole’s Informed Comment I asked this and he would not put it up. Very odd. Seems as if Cole does not want the Obama administration questioned about the Libyan decisions. And does not want anything up about missing Libyan weapons and alleged Al Queda involvement with the Libyan rebels

          Cole would not put this up
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          08/25/2011 at 3:57 pm
          Prof Cole not sure why this did not make it up. I posted it earlier. Think it is relevant. Also posted over at Mondoweiss and it made it up and at Huff Po. Do you have a problem with this comment question?
          Atlantic monthly’s/ New America Foundations Steve Clemons was on Rachel Maddows several eveinings ago he mentioned how Al Qeada is allegedly involved with the Libyan Rebels. This morning former US Ambassador Marc Ginsberg was on C Spans Washington Journal discussing LIbya. He mentioned the Libyan weapons that many are concerned about falling into Al Qeada’s hands. If it is true that Al Qeada is involved with the Libyan rebels are those weapons all ready in Al Qeada’s hands?
          What do you know about this? Confusing



        • Kathleen says:

          not a whisper about this in the MSM

        • Sumud says:

          Linked that Pepe Escobar above and on another thread. Do not know anything about Escobar.. Is he reliable?

          Escobar strikes me as an excellent and very thorough journalist Kathleen. Wade into his archives some time at Asia Times.

          He’s also authored several books – which I have not read – that place America’s wars in a wider context (energy security), unlike most others.

        • annie says:

          escobar has been writing for asia times for years. he consistently had the best msm reporting for the iraq war. he’s spot on and writes stuff other analysis write a month later. just an awesome reporter and analysis imho. this is the first time i have ever seen him on video tho. i was very excited to hear his voice.

      • Kathleen says:

        link to

        Clemons at 11:09 on who some of the Libyan rebels are
        link to

        This is interesting
        link to

  2. marc b. says:

    until convinced otherwise, i assume that the libya intervention is over control of resources and qaddafi’s political independence. not that qaddafi wasn’t dealing with the west but his overtures to china and russia were too much to bear. although he had been negotiating in the spring with those countries for new contracts, news reports now apparently show that russia and china will be shut out of post-qaddafi libyan deals because those countries equivocated over supporting the rebels. this doesn’t mean china won’t get more libyan oil, just that the US/France/Italy et al will have greater bargaining power with the chinese on other matters, e.g. debt. on the other hand, russian interests in libya are probably sunk.

    and with all the recent talk of ‘resource wars’ over even more basic natural resources than oil, see qaddafi’s water project.

    The Great Man-Made River, as the largest water transport project ever undertaken, has been described as the “eighth wonder of the world”. It carries more than five million cubic metres of water per day across the desert to coastal areas, vastly increasing the amount of arable land. The total cost of the huge project is expected to exceed $25 billion (US).

    Consisting of a network of pipes buried underground to eliminate evaporation, four meters in diameter, the project extends for four thousand kilometres far deep into the desert. All material is locally engineered and manufactured. Underground water is pumped from 270 wells hundreds of meters deep into reservoirs that feed the network. The cost of one cubic meter of water equals 35 cents. The cubic meter of desalinized water is $3.75. Scientists estimate the amount of water to be equivalent to the flow of 200 years of water in the Nile River.

    The goal of the Libyan Arab people, embodied in the Great Man-Made River project, is to make Libya a source of agricultural abundance, capable of producing adequate food and water to supply its own needs and to share with neighboring countries. In short, the River is literally Libya’s ‘meal ticket’ to self-sufficiency.

    link to

  3. Walid says:

    Gadaffi made the same mistake as Mossadegh, Saddam and Chavez; whether or not he was bluffing, he had started making threatening noises about wanting to be paid for his oil in something other than US dollars. When an oil producer goes anywhere near such a revolutionary idea, his time is up. After he squeeked by the last revolt to topple him, Chavez stopped turning up his nose on the US dollar.

    • ToivoS says:

      Walid I agree that Chavez behaved very irresponsibly in challenging US and US dollar hegemony but the fact is he is still in power. Poor example.

      I concluded about 8 years back that one of the true costs (to US imperialism) of the fiasco of the Iraq war was that the US was so over extended that they lacked the resources to punish Chavez for his deviations.

      It is true that Mossadegh and Saddam (along with Goulart, Allende and Arbenz) were duly punished for defying US imperialism, Chavez remains an exception. If you haven’t noticed he has become an inspiration to many of the neighboring countries.

  4. RoHa says:

    I too am not sure just how good a thing the overthrow of Gaddafi is. He was certainly no shining beacon of freedom and justice. On the other hand, under his rule, Libya managed a comparatively high standard of living.

    link to

    I don’t know how things will change under the new government, but sad experience makes me expect the following.

    1. Some people will make huge sums of money from it.
    2. But not me.
    3. Bugger.
    4. Most Libyans will get screwed over one way or another.
    5. And enslaved by the international banking system.
    6. They will lose their free medical care.
    7. They will lose their free education.
    8. Americans will tell them that this is freedom.

    • Philip Weiss says:

      roha how many meanings does the word bugger have in australia? i have been told it can be used 18 different ways. phil

      • Brewer says:

        At least 18 Phil but if you include us Kiwis, 47.

      • RoHa says:

        I’ve never counted. My use was my reaction to the idea that I will not be one of the profiteers.

      • Brewer says:

        Quiet night. I’ll make a start using some of the more obscure usages you septics (Aussie rhyming slang septic tank = yank) probably aren’t familiar with.

        Bugger-all = nothing. (Sometimes “Sweet bugger-all”)
        Bugger-off = go away (Interesting but probably apocryphal belief is that the Maori word for a European (Pakeha) is a corruption of bugger-off, supposedly the most common response the Maori heard after enquiring “Who are you?”
        Bugger me days, Well I’ll be buggered, Well bugger me = Exclamations of surprise like “Well I’ll be goddamned.”
        He’s a bugger for his (insert noun) = he likes (noun) a lot
        Bugger it = I give up
        Bugger you (emphasis on you)= I don’t agree with you
        Bugger you (emphasis on Bugger) = Damn it/you
        It’s buggered = its kaput
        You bugger (emphasis on bugger) = expression of admiration
        Buggerlugs = Whatsisname

        That’s just a few off the top of my head. Here is a New Zealand Toyota television ad that was universally loved. I’d be interested in your reactions

        • Philip Weiss says:

          thanks much guys, i first read of some of the buggers in writings of an aussie coastwatcher named murphy, whom other described as a skiter and a bludger, but who understood the english language, or the australian one. helpful to me for a novel im workin gon. thank you.

        • Brewer says:

          If you need any help with the vernacular, I and my editor (who visits every weekday) would be happy to run our eyes over any passages set in the antipodes or featuring antipodeans – or South Africans for that matter. My editor was a top journo there before migrating to Kiwiville.

        • RoHa says:

          “Journo” is a good example of the Antipodean “o” ending, found in such words as “arvo”, “smoko” and “ambo”. (You need the ambos if you have had a nasty accident. Phone 000. If your house is burning down, the same number gets you the firies.)

        • Bumblebye says:

          Those ‘buggers’ took the word with them when they left its original home – but we kept a bit back.
          Don’t forget buggerall (nothing) immortalized by Dylan Thomas as the village of ‘Llareggub’.

        • Brewer says:

          Enormous fun and a welcome diversion from the disgusting World of War and politics.

          Apropos of nothing, Dylan Thomas at his very best:

    • eljay says:

      >> 8. Americans will tell them that this is freedom.

      Freedom AND democracy AND justice. (Gawd bless Amurrika!) They may not be applicable in all cases, but they sure do appear to be inseparable.

  5. Brewer says:

    The Lies Behind the West’s War on Libya

    It was Gaddafi’s Libya that offered all of Africa its first revolution in modern times – connecting the entire continent by telephone, television­, radio broadcasti­ng and several other technologi­cal applicatio­ns …
    It began in 1992, when 45 African nations establishe­d RASCOM (Regional African Satellite Communicat­ion Organizati­on) so that Africa would have its own satellite and slash communicat­ion costs in the continent. This was a time when phone calls to and from Africa were the most expensive in the world because of the annual US$500 million fee pocketed by Europe for the use of its satellites like Intelsat for phone conversati­ons, including those within the same country…­.
    The US$30 billion frozen by Mr Obama belong to the Libyan Central Bank and had been earmarked as the Libyan contributi­on to three key projects which would add the finishing touches to the African federation – the African Investment Bank in Syrte, Libya, the establishm­ent in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Yaounde with a US$42 billion capital fund and the Abuja-base­d African Central Bank in Nigeria which, when it starts printing African money, will ring the death knell for the CFA franc through which Paris has been able to maintain its hold on some African countries for the last fifty years. It is easy to understand the French wrath against Gaddafi.

    link to www­.informati­onclearing­­

  6. Brewer says:

    Pepe Escobar (God bless him) omnibus:

    link to

    Welcome to Libya’s ‘democracy’
    link to

    The Big Gaddafi (hilarious)
    link to

    Disaster capitalism swoops over Libya
    link to

    If you want more just say so.

    • marc b. says:

      from brewer’s atimes link.

      As previously noted (see Welcome to Libya’s ‘democracy’, Asia Times Online, August 24) the vultures are already circling Tripoli to grab (and monopolize) the spoils. And yes – most of the action has to do with oil deals, as in this stark assertion by Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at the “rebel” Arabian Gulf Oil Company; “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.”

      These three happen to be crucial members of the BRICS group of emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which are actually growing while the Atlanticist, NATO-bombing economies are either stuck in stagnation or recession. The top four BRICs also happen to have abstained from approving UN Security Council resolution 1973, the no-fly zone scam that metamorphosed into NATO bringing regime change from above. They saw right through it from the beginning.

      To make matters worse (for them), only three days before the Pentagon’s Africom launched its first 150-plus Tomahawks over Libya, Colonel Gaddafi gave an interview to German TV stressing that if the country were attacked, all energy contracts would be transferred to Russian, Indian and Chinese companies.

      So the winners in the oil bonanza are already designated: NATO members plus Arab monarchies. Among the companies involved, British Petroleum (BP), France’s Total and the Qatar national oil company. For Qatar – which dispatched jet fighters and recruiters to the front lines, trained “rebels” in exhaustive combat techniques, and is already managing oil sales in eastern Libya – the war will reveal itself to be a very wise investment decision.

  7. Keith says:

    To me the question is quite simple: do you support imperial aggression and war crimes, or do you oppose them? The very notion that empire is going to intervene for “humanitarian” reasons is so absurd that it is believed only by the willfully blind or the liberal media and liberal academics who provide ideological justification and propaganda for imperial war making when it is a Democratic President making war. And sometimes when it is a Republican as well. This is what empires do, and this is how the propaganda system functions.

    • Kathleen says:

      Yep. And sounds like Al Qeada has a major role in this overthrow

    • Is it that simple, Keith? It might be worth listening to this interview with Ali Ahmida, Gilbert Achcar, and David Smith on Libya, conducted as part of KPFA’s Voices in the Middle East and North Africa Show:

      link to

      • James North says:

        Eleanor: Thanks for the link. Ali Ahmida and Gilbert Achcar were extremely interesting — leftist professors who are enthusiastic for the Libyan rebels and are qualified supporters of the Western intervention, albeit with their eyes wide open. They had some valuable observations about Western critics of the intervention, even calling the critics “paternalistic,” who are presumptuously telling Libyans what was good for them.

      • Keith says:

        ELEANORKILROY- “Is it that simple, Keith?”

        Yes it is. Any honest review of the relevant history will quickly reveal that the American empire has frequently intervened militarily to achieve geo-strategic objectives, resulting in massive death and destruction. Following World War II, the US intervened in Italy, Greece, Korea and elsewhere to smash the popular resistance forces and reinstall the fascist collaborators. In Latin America, the US overthrew democratically elected governments which were replaced by military dictatorships and death squad democracies. In Viet Nam, the US prevented an election which would have likely brought Ho Chi Minh to power, and assaulted SE Asia militarily resulting in millions of deaths. The US also encouraged and supported the military coup in Indonesia in which about one million “communist” peasants were murdered. Afghanistan and Iraq join a long list of victims of US imperial aggression. I have left out a lot, but the pattern is clear. The American empire routinely engages in covert operations, terrorism and mass murder in order to achieve its imperial objectives. This is what empires do. Hardly the entity to keep the peace and save lives.

        All of these interventions were justified by lofty rhetoric. Defense against communism, protect freedom, bring democracy, defeat terrorism, fight drugs, humanitarian intervention, obligation to protect, etc. The actual consequences, however, were quite different. Massive death and destruction, destroyed infrastructure, undemocratic imperial satrapies, economic subordination, etc. All of this routinely ignored or misrepresented by the media and “informed” liberal intelligentsia.

        Why would anyone believe the imperial propaganda system? Actions speak louder than words, and the facts on the ground seem quite clear to me. Frankly, I don’t care what Gilbert Achar or Juan Cole have to say about all of this. They are part of a doctrinal system that has been justifying imperial depredations for as long as there have been imperial depredations. Humanitarian intervention and white man’s burden are part of the same narrative. I do agree, however, that Americans have a responsibility to protect. Namely, to protect other nations, particularly Third World nations and people, from American imperial violence, including NATO, etc. In other words, Americans have an obligation to oppose all US imperial interventions, no matter how noble sounding the pretext used to justify them.

        • Chu says:

          Keith, sadly it is that simple. Currently, america is the leader of the financial world, and we have to succumb to its propaganda. Who else listens to this bullshit? The Israel project is a cherished effort of the elite (mainly the left, now drifting to the right), and it’s why the left becomes confused or just ignore it and agree with Israel propaganda; my parents are like this. They (used to) see Israel as a victim of history, but in my opinion, their time is running out. No matter how much capitol they dump into this project, they are ruining their prospects for a union with Arab states.
          Could Switzerland, be as hostile to Europe, as Israel is to the Arab States?

  8. Kathleen says:

    Anyone understand what happens at you tube when it comes to how they calculate and document how many people have watched a video. Last night the Pepe Escobar interview when he states that an Al Qeada asset had 16,ooo watches. Now both you tube clips at you tube one has 34 watches and the other has 6886. Where did the clip that had 16,ooo watches go? Does you tube just wipe those out, disassemble. Who understands what happens with these inaccurate and misleading counts

  9. Brewer says:

    This is interesting:

    link to

    I pricked up my ears when I heard:
    “It is a society completely different from us and our idea of democracy, they don’t approve it. Their idea of government is based on groups and tribes that have their own chief, then those chiefs together form a national counsel.

    They believe that this is the only way to represent all the social groups. For example they don’t like our form of democracy because if 60 per cent of a country votes for one president, then the remaining 40 per cent don’t agree with the president, they believe this is not a form of democracy.”

    I believe I am beginning to understand the big disconnect between the West and Islamic political systems. Here’s what I’ve picked up about Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya system:

    There are about 600 Basic People’s Congresses – they sound like District or tribal Councils.
    The General People’s Congress (Mu’tammar al-sha’ab al ‘âmm) consists of 2,700 representatives of the Basic People’s Congresses. The GPC is the legislative forum that interacts with the General People’s Committee, whose members are secretaries of Libyan ministries. It serves as the intermediary between the masses and the leadership and is composed of the secretariats of some 600 local “basic popular congresses.”
    Further up the chain is the Secretary General, then the Prime Minister, then the President. Gaddafi no longer holds public office or title, he is accorded the honorifics “Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” or “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” in government statements and the official press.
    I am not sure that “Dictator” is the appropriate term for Gaddafi. It depends on how much control over the Armed Forces he exerts. Officially none but there is a fair bit of nepotism and a son or two hold high military rank. There are quite a few examples of his expressed wishes not being fulfilled however such as his goal of direct participation by women in national defence which has been resisted by conservative elements of Libyan society.
    Fascinating stuff.