Last weeks, protesters went out to streets carrying green flags and demanding that Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al Islam, to be released. Their main demand is returning to Gaddafi’s regime.
These protesters are something we used to see. They are coming out from people who have been seeing Gaddafi’s regime is the best for Libya since 1969. What is not normal that many of 17th of February revolution supporters are asking for the same thing, or something close to that. They regret what has happened in Libya in the last 4 years. They want Libya to restore to the point before 2011.
They constantly say “we wish we never made this revolution” and “the last 4 years worse than 42 years of Gaddafi”. Whenever I meet new people who converted to pro Gaddafi, usually I say the word revolution, referring to the 2011 revolution. They replay, “Do you still call it revolution,” or “it’s not a revolution at all”.
We all know why they miss Gaddafi’s days especially these days!
The current situation compared with Gaddafi’s days are worse in terms of the level of security. Since 2011 Libya has been going down into deep divisions with chaos. The ISIS is rising in many parts of Libya. There is no powerful government to control all these fully armed militias. There are two parliaments and two governments. Items of daily life such as electricity, gas, breads and water are frequently in shortage. Human rights abuses are rampant everywhere.
The more people suffer now, the more they forget the brutal history
The more people suffer now, the more they forget the brutal history. It seems people easily forget what happened in the last 42 years of Gaddafi’s control. It takes me one-second to find a proof that reminds me of Gaddafi’s era by looking at Benghazi infrastructure, for example. For 42 years, Gaddafi maintained an environment of corruption. He promoted no good education system, no healthy healthcare system, no reliable national army, and any other institutions that should have been really built despite enjoying all powers and privileges.
My point here is what we face these days is no different from what we faced in Gaddafi time. The only difference is the security level.
It’s clear that people are missing Gaddafi’s days because of security. Security and safe atmosphere are the first on people’s list of priorities. People will trade off everything to have the security. What we see these days is the result of Gaddafi control. Presence of weapons in the hands of militias beyond government control is defeating the efforts to improve security environment. In other words, Gaddafi is the main reason behind the lack of security today.
The lack of security is building the case for creation of a military council. Many people are asking Gen. Khalifa Hifter to take control and to overthrow the current government. They see Hifter as the new powerful person who will control everything and fix what has happened. They are willing to trade off democracy with security.
Therefore, what we see today is not an anti-revolution movement as some people refer it as such (Fajer Libya Supporters). It’s the basic demand from people who lived in the two periods. The only thing Gaddafi provided was security, which is missing nowadays.
Whenever you see people regretting the revolution, make sure they lack the security in their lives.
I think the first thing that the upcoming unity government should do is to provide peaceful environment. The only way to create such environment is by dissolving militias, collecting the illegal weapons, and creating one powerful army. Than we can proceed to democracy.
Mutaz Gedalla is an architect at Assarh Engineering Consultancy and a Lecturer at Benghazi University’s Architectural Department. He runs a blog wakeupbenghazi.com. An unedited version of this article first appeared onwakeupbenghazi.com. He can be followed on Twitter at @mutaz20042000