By DrJay Dubashi
The tens of thousands of Libyans who used to listen to Muammar al Gaddafi’s rantings in Tripoli all these years at last turned on him and dragged him out of a filthy culvert in his home town and bludgeoned him to death. This is how dictators meet their end, you might say, but there is much more than meets the eye to Gaddafi’s death. It was actually an execution, not a simple death, and he asked for it. Now the Westerners who manipulated this show will go home, with the keys of Libya’s oil wells in their pockets.
Gaddafi, of course, deserved what he got, but why only he, and not others? Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is still alive and seems to be in good health. So is Ben Ali of Tunisia, who fled to Saudi Arabia and from there God knows where, along with his jewels and US Treasury bonds, and he too is in fine fettle. Only Gaddafi, who was actually No. 3 in the series, seems to have come to a sticky end, with the whole of Nato chasing him across his land, and though he could have run away to Saudi Arabia, which is also a dictatorship and takes care of all Arab dictators, or perhaps to Turkey, just a stone’s throw away, he stayed put.
Perhaps he could have come to India, where the Digvijay Singhs were waiting for him with fresh garlands, just as they were waiting for Osamaji six months ago. Unfortunately for the Singhs, the people of Libya had other ideas, and the poor fellow now lies on a filthy mattress in Misrata surrounded by hunks of meat and God knows what else in the hot African desert.
But Gaddafi could not get away because the Britishers, the French and the Americans wanted him dead or alive, and they sent hundreds of Nato planes and missiles to Libya to finish him, something they had not done either in the case of Egypt or Tunisia. They have not despatched a single plane to Syria, where another mad man, Bashar Assad, who happens to be its President, is slaughtering his own people, just as Gaddafi did in Libya. They are also keeping quiet about Yemen, where thousands of Yemenis are up in arms. Why was Libya an exception?
Because Libya has oil, lots of it, and Egypt and Tunisia and Syria have no oil. Remember Cuba also has no oil, which is why it is safe. Remember also that Iraq has oil, which is why George Bush Jr sent his army there, on the cooked-up charge that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which it turned out, it didn’t. But the poor fellow had oil, which is worth its weight in dynamite, and Saddam Hussein’s goose was cooked even before US forces arrived in Basra.
Middle East politics is all about oil, which is why the West prefers dictators there, as they are easier to deal with and you can keep them dangling on a string. Gaddafi never understood this simple equation, but towards the end of his reign, he had begun to appreciate that he could not afford to antagonise the West and had started making peace with them. Had Gaddafi played his cards wisely, as the Saudis have done, he would still be in one piece today. It is a pity he didn’t learn a thing or two from the Saudis, who have almost handed over their oil wells to Americans, who rule the roost.
After Libya, I have a feeling the Iranians are next on the list. They too are provoking the Westerners, just as Gaddafi did. They too crave nuclear weapons, just like Gaddafi, who at one time was trying to coax India into parting with nuclear technology. Why he didn’t get the Pakistanis to help him is one of those mysteries only the Pakis can throw light on. Oil and nuclear weapons make for a deadly combination, and the Iranians have apparently made up their mind that they want both. They are playing for high stakes, instead of lying low and enjoying their good fortune, unless they have taken their lesson from Gaddafi and change their ways.
The Arab world is so stunned by the fall of Gaddafi and his grisly end that there has been virtually no reaction from any Arab country to the events in Libya. There has been no reaction from Iran either, or, for that matter, no official reaction from India. Gaddafi was not exactly a popular person – he was too eccentric an individual in the Arab world, but even then they should have at least mourned his death.
It is not clear what will happen next, not only in Libya but also in other Arab countries affected by the so-called Arab Spring. The Americans themselves are not very sure, as all this seems so sudden. America is such a self-centred country that it cares for nothing but its own interests. Since it was busy elsewhere, it permitted Britain and France to run the show, which they seem to have done to the satisfaction of Washington. Gaddafi was carried away by his own rhetoric about sovereignty etc. which cut no ice with the West. They pounced on him, as they had done on Saddam Hussein and others, and finished him, just as they finished Hussein. Now they have unimpeded access to Libyan oil, something they have been trying for all these years.
You may ask, why is the West so keen on Libyan oil at a time when things are reasonably quiet around the world, and oil prices are steady and so is the supply of oil? Actually, things are not quiet; they only seem quiet. Both Russia and China – the latter more so – are in an aggressive mood, which essentially means anti-Western mood. Both are communist countries, though Russia claims to be something else. They are not democratic countries, whatever else they may be, and you never know what they are or may be upto. America’s recent warnings to Pakistan are actually indirect warnings to China, as the latter is Pakistan’s partner. China is also trying to get friendly with Iran, a most unpredictable country ruled by Ayatollahs, while Pakistan itself seems to be increasingly in the grip of Islamic fundamentalists, some of whom may be financed by Iran. With this deadly combination of forces building up in Asia, the future is anybody’s guess.
Gaddafi was not India’s friend; he was actually nobody’s friend, and his death therefore does not really make much difference as far as India is concerned. But his oil does, certainly to the extent that access to it will now be easier. But you can never be certain about anything in the Middle East, and should always keep your fingers crossed.