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Questions we SHOULD be asking about Libya

A response to Fareed Zakaria’s show GPS on CNN April 3, 2011.

Dear Fareed,

Your insistence, along with many others, on the juicy question: is there Al-Qaida in Libya, is deplorable.

I usually have deep admiration for your precise views about current issues, and the same for your respected guests. Your prominent guest today, Dr. Brzezinski stated many important points especially the urgency which the situation in Libya must be dealt with, and the fact that Libya and the rest of the free world cannot afford to have Gaddafi stay in power in any capacity, and so for any of his sons. I have the same regard to your prominent guest Bernard-Henri Lévy, he understands what is going on in Libya and the honesty of the Libyan freedom fighters and their just cause.

On the other hand, your other two guests Robert Worth and Robert Baer are wrong. The first has nothing worth saying except unfounded speculations. The latter appears repeatedly on numerous interviews to repeat sentences which convey his believe that Libyans are unruly people for the most part and hard to train, in summary: stupid. I am a proud Libyan and I resent that from him or anyone else. He needs to distinguish between the Libyan freedom fighters who are enthusiastic about their freedom and their future. Mr. Baer has never dealt with these honest Libyans who are fighting for justice and freedom, and must be basing his argument on the disinterested, dumb soldiers he was once hired to train for the dictator regime. I have no respect for what he has to say for he fails to understand this important difference; he should be ashamed of that.

Mr. Baer and the whole world must realize the mighty task the Libyan people have so far achieved. These valiant people have challenged and are now fighting one brutal dictator who is well armed, unfortunately by the best weapons the West and Russia could ever make. Give them credit for what they have done and give them help instead of being a negative force. There are many ways in which the world can help without having to fight; Paul Wolfowitz cited some of these ways to include communications, phones, advice, and training.

It is an odd thing that Nile SAT did not refrain from carrying the regime’s TV signal, thereby giving voice to Gaddafi to continue his reign of tyranny against the Libyan people. Shutting him up will go a long way in convincing many people that his regime is going to end soon. The most odd thing must be the fact that after two weeks of military air operations by the coalition, Gaddafi ground forces are still laying siege to Misurata, Zintan, and other towns in the west of Libya, almost unchallenged. Isn’t the coalition force mandate to protect civilians? Are these not civilians who are being constantly shelled in these towns? Why aren’t the Gaddafi troops around these towns being bombarded by the Coalition air force?

Back to your question about possible presence of Al-Qaida in Libya. Al-Qaida will try to take advantage of the situation in Libya, just like it would do anywhere else being the opportunists they are. It so far has no presence in Libya except in Gaddafi’s lies. Does anyone have any prove of Al-Qaida being in Libya? Any shred of evidence?

The record that some came to fight in Iraq from Libya should be put to the infamous regime itself which drove some young men to despair, recruited them, and sent them to fight in Iraq after a training period in Algeria. In a country like Libya where one cannot take an extra breath without the secret police taking note, these young kids would not have been able to achieve that without the knowledge, consent, and indirect participation of Gaddafi regime. Gaddafi’s objective was then twofold: get rid of some young men who could potentially challenge his rule, and help throw a stick in the yoke of the US military effort in Iraq, along with other Arab regimes, and of course, Iran.

Gaddafi is now cynically trying to achieve a third objective yet: accuse the Libyan freedom fighters of being involved with Al-Qaida to scare the West away from helping them and frustrate their struggle for justice and freedom. Ask Gaddafi operatives (e.g. Musa Qusa, who is now in London); ask the Algerian government about their own Al-Qaida training camps inside Algeria. These are the real criminal not the few young men who were lead to a certain death in Iraq, and certainly not the peace loving Libyan people.

Please remember that this whole thing started as peaceful demonstrations on Feb 17. What you see now is the result of the brutal actions of the regime. It is not a civil war, the Libyan freedom fighters were forced to carry arms in self defense. Eventually, Gaddafi, his sons, affiliates and the whole regime needs to be dismantled and gone. Otherwise, despair will set in and so will brutality and extremism. The free world should stop bickering and take the side of the freedom fighters. While helping the Libyans achieve their freedom, the West will get to know them better, and even influence them positively. It is a win-win situation. The free world could not ask for a better, or more ethical cause.

Ask not whether Al-Qaida is in Libya now, but ask what would happen if the Libyan people were let down in their struggle for freedom and justice?

Thank you, with best regards.


Saleh Mneina, Ph.D.