Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Governing A Post Gaddafi Libya could be a Nightmare

Libyan population of 6.5 million comprises of various tribes. Col Gaddafi comes from a smaller tribe - Gaddafa, based in Sirte. Warfalla is by far the largest tribe with nearly one million members. Warfalla has been opposed to Gaddafi for quite some time and it is the Warfalla who have captured Ben Ghazi.

Gaddafi cleverly included various tribes into the armed forces to keep them happy. However, after the last uprising, he excluded the Warfalla from some of the military functions and from the air force.

The armed forces have various components including the revolutionary guards, which are thought to be loyal to Gaddafi. The rest of the armed forces do not have enough power to overthrow Gaddafi and start a civilian transition like currently under way in Egypt.

The biggest problem in post Gaddafi Libya will be to unite all the tribes. So far there is no clear leader who can command the respect of all tribes (including the Gaddafa tribe) to govern effectively after Gaddafi.

The real danger is that Libya will splinter into small tribal fiefdoms, all fighting over oil revenues. Gaddafi's departure is only a question of time, but post Gaddafi picture does not look very pretty.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Has Gaddafi Gone Mad?

A defiant Muammar Gaddafi is threatening bloodshed and revenge against protesters, he sounds like a mad man. It seems that even after ruling Libya for 41 years, his desire for power is not satiated. He is willing to destroy Libya rather than accept reality and step down.

The day Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Gaddafi should have initiated an orderly transition to democratic rule. Gaddafi's defiance can only cause more death and destruction resulting possibly in the breakup of Libya. Even if he overcomes the situation momentarily, his game is up and chances of him lasting as a ruler are minimal.

US wielded a great deal of influence with Egyptian military, hence were able to ensure Mubarak's departure, but there is no such connection here. Gaddafi is his own man and does not listen to anyone, so unfortunately there is no one to influence him to make the right decision at this critical juncture.

Let us hope better sense will prevail in the end and Gaddafi will decide to hand power to a new civilian administration.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Libya in Turmoil II

Al-Jazeera English reports more protests and violence in Libya

Libya in Turmoil, is Civil War imminent?

The riots in Ben Ghazi and other Libyan cities have become violent. Gaddafi's security forces have responded with force and brutality. It appears that protesters overran a Cantonment in Ben Ghazi capturing tanks and other military weapons. Ben Ghazi now seems to be in the hands of protesters.

The stark warning on live television by Gaddafi's son yesterday does not bode well for Libya and may in fact lead this (relatively calm - until now) country into civil war.

Gaddafi has ruled the country unchallenged for almost 41 years since he overthrew King Idris in 1969. Contrary to other Arab rulers, Gaddafi does not seem to have amassed wealth in his personal accounts. He has used oil revenues for welfare of his citizens. The poor in Libya may be content and not inclined to riot.

The revolution in Libya is quite different from that in Tunisia and Egypt, where corrupt rulers held sway for a very long time. In Libya, it is matter of freedom and democracy and removing restrictions from a state shackle hold. The middle and educated classes want a proper democracy, freedom of assembly and speech and quite rightly so.

There is a new awakening in the Middle East and NO this is not because of George W. Bush's disastrous war in Iraq, which killed 100,000 Iraqis and 6,000 Americans. Egypt has shown us that regime change can be accomplished without violence provided it is home grown and people are united. There is a new mood in the Middle East and despotic rulers better watch out.

Libya is not Gaddafi's personal fiefdom, he should step down and let an orderly process of change take place. His son's tone was defiant and threatening, promising to unleash the armed forces on the protesters. This may just be a last ditch effort by a dying regime. However, if the armed forces are brought to streets to crush the protesters that could lead to a civil war with horrific consequences.

The Libyan Armed forces should refuse orders to shoot their own people.

Democracy Now reports more deaths

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


On January 26, 2011 Hillary Clinton called Hosni Mubarak regime a stable regime.

This what she said as per 'Democracy Now' blog
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "We support the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people, and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence. But our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people."

And yet a few days later, the Egyptian public threw out the corrupt and dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak. How could America's Chief Diplomat get this so wrong?

This was a huge blunder on the part of Hillary Clinton, a person in-charge of conducting US foreign policy. If she can get things so wrong, how will she read the situation in a major face off with a nuclear power?

The decent thing for Hillary Clinton to do is to resign and relieve Obama Administration of her continued presence at State Department. If she does not, President Obama should ask for her resignation.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


It took valiant Egyptian youth only 18 days to end a 30 year dictatorship. Good riddance Hosni Mubarak.

By freezing Mubarak's bank accounts, Switzerland has thrown the gauntlet to all other Governments to freeze his assets and return the looted wealth to Egyptian people.

For now the military has taken charge of Egypt, however this cannot be a satisfactory solution. Egypt has been ruled by military dictators ever since King Farouk was deposed in 1952. If the military stays in charge for a while, they may get comfortable in their new role and become an obstacle in the way of an open and a flourishing democracy, which is what the Egyptians want.

The preferred solution is, for a Supreme Court judge to head the interim Government comprising civilians whose task it should be to return Egypt to normalcy, start rebuilding the economy and hold fair, transparent and democratic elections so that power can be transferred to elected representatives in four to six months. Military's role should be restricted to maintaining law and order only.

Also, the current Egyptian constitution is in shambles and beyond repair, the interim Government should immediately appoint a Constitutional Commission comprising eminent Egyptian jurists with a mandate to draw up a new and democratic constitution. After the elections, the first order of business for the new parliament should be to approve or amend this constitution as it deems fit.

The Egyptian military has seen people power in the last 18 days, so hopefully they they will respond to their aspirations. However, if they get greedy and go for power grab, the outcome for the Military will probably be far worse than it was for Mubarak.


Thursday, February 10, 2011


On January 27, 2011, a deadly incident occurred on the streets of Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan and home to seven million people.

An American citizen, Raymond Davis a mercenary aka a private contractor hired by US Government rammed his rental vehicle into a biker knocking him off his bike. Rather than stopping to inquire about the biker's condition, he fled the scene. Another biker and his passenger seeing this, gave Davis a chase, caught up with him, pulled up their bike in front of Davis' car to prevent his escape. David pulled an automatic weapon and through the front windscreen of his car shot both the biker and his passenger dead putting eight bullets in one and five in the other.

Davis called US Consulate for help and a speeding vehicle arrived soon after cutting through and driving against one way traffic and in the process knocking and killing another biker. Both vehicles fled the scene, however the police chased and caught up with Davis arresting him two miles from the shooting scene. It is reported that Davis carried three automatic weapons, false documents and a false passport. US Government claims that Davis is an employee of a private contracting firm, Hyperion Protective Consultants of Orlando, Florida. However 'Counterpunch' reports that no such company exists in Florida.

US Government claims Davis has diplomatic immunity. It is applying immense pressure on Pakistan Government to release this thug and a criminal, threatening to cut off Pakistan's economic aid. Various US officials have hinted at canceling bi-lateral meetings. Hillary Clinton has been the worse culprit, canceling a scheduled meeting with Pakistan's Foreign Minister in Washington DC next week.

Diplomats are not supposed to commit murder, hence what Diplomatic immunity?
As it is, Davis' diplomatic immunity is in doubt and even if he has diplomatic immunity, US should immediately strip him of it and let him defend himself in Pakistani courts.

Why is the Obama Administration trying to protect a thug like Davis? Didn't Mr. Obama say in his election campaign that he will project a kinder, gentler face of America to the world, is this how he plans to project a kinder, gentler face?

So far, Pakistan Government has resisted pressure. But there is a lot of anger on the street and if Zaradri Government capitulates and releases Davis, all hell may break loose. The countrywide demonstrations that are likely to follow will possibly be so large and violent that Egypt will pale in comparison. There will be public pressure to end all cooperation with US over Afghanistan, potentially leading to a disorderly US withdrawal from Afghanistan, reviving painful memories of last days of Vietnam.

The best course at this stage is for Hillay Clinton and other officials of Obama Administration to back off and let the law take its course. Once the legal process has completed and some time has passed and anger has subsided, there may be an opportunity to exchange Davis with Pakistani prisoner in the US.

Is Mubarak on the Run?

BBC and other news sources are reporting that Hosni Mubarak may step down today and hand over power to his Vice President Suleiman.

Suleiman is the former head of the dreaded Egyptian Intelligence. He has helped Mubarak suppress Egyptian people for thirty years. His demeanor on television may be that of a softy, but he is a cruel man who has jailed thousands of people over the years.

If Mubarak does step down and hands over power to Suleiman, it will be like one thug handing over the reigns to another.

No doubt the Egyptians will celebrate their victory over Mubarak's ouster, but they are not likely to accept a transition Government under Suleiman. Chances are protests will continue until they get rid of Suleiman.

Aljazeera English TV claims that Omar Suleiman is an Israeli agent. One does not know if that is true, but Israel and the US have been very keen to have him replace Mubarak. The recent high praise for him by an Israeli Government minister may rile up the Egyptians even more to ensure his rapid departure.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Protests Spreading in Egypt, Democracy Now reports

Egyptian Protests Continue

AlJazeera English reports that Labor Unions have now joined the ranks of protestors in Egypt. Things appear to be spinning out of control. Time is of essence and if Egypt is to experience a relatively peaceful transition to democracy and multi-party rule, it is time for Obama Administration and European countries to impress upon Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Monday, February 7, 2011


The Egyptian demonstrations have been led by common folks wanting a corrupt and a dictatorial leader out of power and out of their country. The Muslim Brotherhood is a late comer to the game. In fact the first few days of uprising they stood on the sidelines probably fearing that crowds could turn on them. Watching things heat up, they have gradually come into the fold. By now it is a well known fact that the uprising has nothing to do with the Brotherhood, but, if there is no quick resolution and uncertainty continues, they stand to reap rewards far greater than they deserve.

The Obama Administration's backtracking on Hosni Mubarak's departure may have inflicted a minor blow to the uprising. But Hosni Mubarak's plan to stay till September and oversee election of his cronies will not be palatable to the Egyptian public. They have had enough of him in thirty years and they want to see the back of him sooner rather than later. The self appointed pundits like Farid Zakaria saying that army will outlast the crowds will probably be proven wrong, as usual.

Egyptian economy has already suffered $3 billion damage and the longer Mubarak remains as Head of State (with or without full powers), the demonstrations will continue and the losses will multiply. Hosni Mubarak has no credibility to bring a meaningful change to Egyptian constitution or arrange an orderly transition. At this time, he is a catalyst for more violence and upheaval. He should leave Egypt NOW before he suffers a Mussolini like fate.

The immediate need is to pacify Egyptian public by replacing Mubarak with an interim non-political Authority with a mandate to come up with a constitutional reform package and oversee a fair and transparent election. The interim authority should ideally be headed by a superior court judge and not by the Vice President or the Speaker (both Mubarak's party men). Once Mubarak is out and the Authority is in place, the public will most likely go back to their daily lives.

Only then can the new political parties be formed and electioneering begin in earnest. If this path is followed, chances are Egyptian public will reject the Brotherhood, who will be lucky to get 2 to 3% of the vote. However, a prolonged agitation will only strengthen their hands and they would gain significantly by playing on people's fears.

It is time for President Obama and Hillary Clinton to act as visionary leaders, with behind the scenes diplomacy and not many public statements. Also, they should not pay attention to those advisors who are for Mubarak's stay or continued involvement till September. Lest the Iranain revolution repeats itself in Egypt.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


With Hosni Mubarak's impending departure, whatever form a new Egyptian Government takes, one thing is certain, the new Government is less likely to be friendly to Israel.

Tom Friedman is absolutely right when he says that it is time for Israel to make peace with Palestinians and that too in some haste. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ultra right wing cabinet has dragged its feet to delay a meaningful peace dialogue, but time may be running out for Israel to come to a permanent settlement with Palestinians.

If the present political turmoil continues in the Middle East, Israel may find itself surrounded by countries with new and more hostile Governments who are likely to be much more sympathetic to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinians.

The current Palestinian leadership headed by Mahmoud Abbas, though not fully representative of all Palestinians, still offers Israel a real chance of a permanent and lasting peace. Israel has to be prepared to show flexibility on West Bank and Jerusalem and Palestinians must be flexible on the right of return of refugees.

President Obama should take the initiative and emphasize upon the Israeli Government that time for peace is now and if they miss this opportunity, they could inflict a heavy price on generations of Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel must also immediately release Palestinian political prisoners held in their jails for years. One such leader is Marwan Barghouti. He is potentially the President of an independent Palestinian state. He has the support of all Palestinians and is also well respected by Fatah and Hamas. He is a revolutionary of the modern kind, he wants education for all Palestinians and a peaceful co-existence with Israel.

It is time for Israel to act and act now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


No amount of promises will satisfy the Egyptian people, Hosni Mubarak should step down now. Perhaps it is too late already for an orderly transition, but the longer he lingers, the more violent is the transition likely to be.

Mubarak has ruled Egypt with an iron fist for thirty years, no wonder the anger is boiling over in the streets. He has not allowed any opposition candidate to run against him, most opponents have been languishing in jail for years. A vast number of Egyptians remain poor and have not benefited from economic prosperity that a few have enjoyed. Mubarak and his cronies live extravagant lifestyle in palaces like kings.

Mubarak's grooming of his son as his successor may be the proverbial "last straw that broke the camel's back". People have had enough of one Mubarak and they are not ready for another. Also, Egypt is not a kingdom, where a son can take over reigns of power when the father dies or retires. Tunisian uprising may have lit a fire in the Middle East, but anger has been boiling in Egypt for quite some time now, all it needed was a fuse.

To prevent conditions getting worse, Hosni Mubarak should hand over power to an interim non-partisan authority, whose sole task should be to hold free and fair elections within 90 days. This can prevent further violence as angers will cool down and the public will feel empowered to elect a leader of their choice. Failure to step down will only result in more violence, death and destruction and a severe blow to Egyptian economy. MR. MUBARAK, PLEASE GO NOW AND SAVE YOUR COUNTRY.