|Honigman: Libya, 'Tis a Puzzlement|
by Gerald A. HonigmanWithin a month of unrest spreading from elsewhere in the region into Libya, cruise missiles, naval and air support, and the UN managed to act against that nation's dictator to prop up his opponents. The French, the Brits, Americans and others have all managed to act remarkably swiftly to defend those who want Libya's leader, Mu'ammar Qaddafi, deposed.
Now, don't get me wrong...I fully understand that Qaddafi's antics--frequently terror-linked--have won him few friends in the West, despite his oil wealth and the abundance of those addicted to the petro-spigot. And I understand that his open contempt for many of his fellow Arab megalomaniacs (especially the royal ones) won him few plaudits from that circle as well.
Still, there are some gnawing doubts here...
You know, as typical, in many respects, an Arab leader that he is, Qaddafi was one of a very few of his colleagues who dared to confront Syrian Arab despots right on their own turf about their murderous rape and subjugation of Lebanon. And what other Arab leader do you know of has ever dared to say something like his remarks at the Second Afro-Arab summit in Srte, Libya in October 2010? Check these out...
I regret the behavior of the Arabs... They brought African children to North Africa, they made them slaves, they sold them like animals, and they took them as slaves and traded them in a shameful way. I regret and I am ashamed when we remember these practices. I apologize for this... Today we are embarrassed and shocked by these outrageous practices of rich Arabs who had treated their fellow Africans with contempt and condescension. We should now recognize this issue, denounce it vigorously and place it in its true dimension.
Qaddafi is a character, no doubt, and before I appear to applaud his alleged humanitarian side too much, please understand that he is the same dude who claimed that the original, pre-Arab conquest natives of North Africa--the assorted "Berber" peoples like the Kabyle and Amazigh--do not even exist. Recall this Special Dispatch of MEMRI on May 3, 2007, written by Belkacem Lounes of the World Amazigh Congress, who responded to his denial with this...
The people of whom you speak...speak their own Amazigh language daily... live their Amazigh identity...What worse offense to elementary rights is there than denying the existence of a people...30 million in North Africa? You menace the Amazigh, warning that whosoever asserts his identity will be a traitor...identical problems in Algeria and Morocco...There is no worse colonialism than internal colonialism--that of the Pan-Arabist claim that seeks to dominate our people. It is surely Arabism--an imperialist ideology that refuses diversity--that constitutes an offense to history and truth...
Before moving away from this point, Qadaffi recently voiced trepidation over the prospect of independence for �(black) South Sudan prompting Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister for Information and Broadcasting for the South, to refute his claims and charges.
The same Qaddafi, who asked his "fellow Africans" for forgiveness over the Arab black African slave trade, could next only advise blacks in the Sudan--who were slaughtered, maimed, enslaved, and so forth by the millions by Arabs and Arabized just in the past century alone (not including the earlier atrocities)--to not separate from the Arab north of the country.
In other words, Qaddafi is first and foremost an Arab nationalist par excellence--and, like others of his ilk, sees the entire region as simply purely Arab patrimony...regardless of some nice words spoken to gain support at summits and such.
Now, since I brought up the Sudan, please explain the following to me--and there are many other examples of this disturbing situation which could be pointed out as well...
During President Obama's January 25th State of the Union address to the nation, he brought up the recent moves in the south of the Sudan towards independence. While it was great to hear him speak of this, I could not help but contrast the treatment this subject has received over the last five decades or so with that afforded to assorted Arab causes.
Again, literally millions of black Africans in the Sudan--both in the non-Muslim south and the Muslim west of the country--have been murdered, displaced, subjugated, and so forth by the Arab/Arabized north.
And in all of these decades, besides mostly empty words, what support (until just several years ago) did these folks get from the international community in the name of their own human and political rights?
Where were the threats by the UN to create a no fly zone or, more relevant to the Sudan, as with the new UNSC Resolution 1973 passed to protect Libyan opponents of Qaddafi, to take all necessary measures to protect the Sudanese people as is now being done for the Libyan people?
While I don't want to see any innocents die, Arab or otherwise, is it not troubling--to say the least--to try to understand why non-Arab folks in the region can be habitually slaughtered, victimized, and subjected to genocide (and not only black Africans) for decades before any real action is contemplated, yet the world community is quick to act in Libya?
Who knows what's really going on over there right now anyway?
Is anyone betting on democracy Western style to replace Qaddafi?
Are Libya's native Berbers going to be treated any more civilly under an Arab regime which replaces Qaddafi's?
Meanwhile, besides other expenses, over a hundred and twenty cruise missiles (at over one million dollars each) have already been fired at him, Stealth Bombers have already made round trip sorties from America to Libyan airfields, and so forth. Anyone interested in what those particulars--just by themselves --have already cost the American taxpayer?
Now, I understand that Qaddafi's poor relations with his fellow Arab despots brought the Arab League to wink at Western action against him, but that still leaves some very disturbing questions unanswered.
Millions of black Africans, Kurds, and others were slaughtered by Arabs for a half century before the world even took any real notice. Tens of thousands of Kurds were slaughtered by Arabs long before Saddam's gassings and the genocidal ANFAL Campaign against them in the '80s.
While the blacks in the south of the Sudan are at long last slated for independence very shortly, those in the Western Darfur region have no such light at the end of their tunnel. And while the world demands a twenty-second state for Arabs at the expense of the sole, resurrected one the Jews finally received, there is still no roadmap for thirty-five million truly stateless Kurds.
I'd like someone to explain all of the above to me, please...unless the difference is just that while the Arab League may wink at some outside intervention on behalf of Arabs, any such moves on behalf of non-Arabs in the region will be dealt with punishingly.
As Rogers and Hammerstein's King of Siam said to Anna...
'Tis a puzzlement...
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites all around the world. Visit his website at http://www.geraldahonigman.com/
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