Besieged Muamar Gadaffi goes digital and blames Al-Qaeda for his woes

Besieged Muamar Gadaffi goes digital and blames Al-Qaeda for his woes


By Maurice N. Amutabi

In one of his many articles few years ago, Kenyan scholar Ali Mazrui had suggested that Egypt and Libya were some of the most stable states in Africa, because they had been founded by revolutions (1952 and 1969 respectively). He classified them as ‘coup-proof’ and others like Ghana and Nigeria, he described as coup-prone. His argument was that these regimes might have been dictatorships, but they were supported by the people. We can now confirm that this was what they wanted us to believe, but the truth of the matter is that they were houses of cards, built by straw, on what peace scholars call, cold peace, on sand.

Even as Tunisia and Egypt burnt, Libya appeared solid. This goes to confirm another political truth, that in politics, fortunes can change very fast and the states that Ali Mazrui thought as being stable few years ago, are today’s soft states, with clay feet. They are falling like dominoes and the democratic forces in Africa and the Arab world are celebrating the power of the people.

Could one have imagined a few years ago that anti-Western Gadaffi would stand on the rooftops in Tripoli and tell Europeans and Americans that Al-Qaeda were fighting him in Libya? Few months ago, before the fall of Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia, and Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, one would not have imagined a regime such as Gadaffi’s looking to the west for support and for survival.

The factors that made these regimes – Tunisia, Egypt and Libya- to look strong were artificial appearance of peace. They used cold peace (negative peace) to pretend that all was well. Beneath the appearance of peace were secret police and state machine that systematically eliminated any dissent and opposition. That is why they looked strong and stable, and peaceful.

As many pundits are pointing out, Gadaffi’s regime is on its last legs. It is not surprising to read that Muamar Gadaffi has decided to go digital, in defence of his bloody regime. His regime reportedly sent out short text messages (SMS) with the message: “God give victory to our leader and the people.” This is ridiculously ironic for someone who is clearly power hungry and blood thirsty. It is clear indication of the desperate times that the regime finds itself in. We cannot deny the power of the peoples’ revolutions and the power of the digital medium, which has mobilized people against these dictatorships.

What is even more interesting was that the SMS from Gadaffi’s regime promised credit to anyone who forwarded the message to other Libyans.  The message confirmed the belief that dictators would use all means, and hold on anything, in order to retain power. He was beaten to the digital media by young Libyans on facebook and twitter.

Something else appeared from Muamar Gadaffi’s last ditch efforts to cling on power. His deputy foreign minister in what is clearly a propaganda item targeting Europe and America suggested an Al-Qaeda connection. The deputy minister alleged that Al-Qaeda has set up an emirate at Derna, in eastern Libya, headed by a former US prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. This is probably one of the most hollow propaganda item I have seen in recent past from any government. As expected no one will believe Gadaffi, for we know these are youths who are sharing their ideas in social media and scheming on how to bring about democracy in their midst.

Muamar Gadaffi has been president since 1969. He has stolen from his country, promoted his sons and daughters and his oligarchy at the expense of ordinary Libyans. His assets have been frozen in many European countries and his sons and daughters have been denied asylum in many countries in the past one week. It is a lesson that one hopes that the likes of Robert Mugabe, Paul Biya and other dictators and kleptocracies in Africa are learning from this.

Even at this eleventh hour and sunset days of his regime, Gadaffi is still killing his own people in order to hold onto power. Almost 300 people have been killed since the uprising started few days ago. He has ordered his air force to bomb his own people, and some of the airmen have defied him, and refused to bomb fellow citizens.

Muamar Gadaffi is free to go digital, and is free to send all the SMS messages he wants. He is also free to identify all the Al-Qaeda elements in Libya. However, for now he should know that time is up for him and he should give democracy a chance.

Prof. Maurice Amutabi teaches Political Science at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.


About African Interdisciplinary Studies Association Website

Prof. Maurice Nyamanga Amutabi is President of African Interdisciplinary Studies Association (AISA), a pioneer professional associaiton bringing together members from all disciplines in Africa and abroad. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who previously worked as Deputy Vice Chancellor at Kisii University and also Director of Research and Professor in Peace and Strategic Studies at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), 2010-2013. He has previously taught at Central Washington University, USA (2005-2010) in African Studies Programme and Moi University (1992-2000) in the Department of Development Studies and other public universities in Kenya. Prof. Amutabi holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA in History and African Studies. He received his B.A (Hons) in 1989 in Political Science and History and M.A in 1991 from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Maurice Amutabi is co-editor of Regime Change and Succession Politics in Africa: Five Decades of Misrule (with Shadrack Wanjala Nasong’o) – in 2013. Amutabi also co-edited Africa after Fifty Years: Retrospections and Reflections (with Toyin Falola and Sylvester Gundona) in 2012. Amutabi is the author of The NGO Factor in Africa: The Case of Arrested Development in Kenya (New York: Routledge, 2006). Amutabi is co-author of Nationalism and Democracy for People-Centered Development in Africa (Moi University Press, 2000). He has also co-authored Foundations of Adult Education in Africa (Cape Town/Hamburg: Pearson/UNESCO, 2005). He has written two novels, Because of Honor (a novel on Islam in Africa) and These Good People (a novel on corruption in Africa). Amutabi is also the author of Nakhamuma Stories (a collection of short stories from the Abaluyia community of western Kenya). His chapters have appeared in over thirty books. His articles have appeared in several refereed and reputable journals such as African Studies Review, African Contemporary Cultural Studies, Canadian Journal of African Studies, International Journal of Educational Development; and Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. Amutabi has made presentations at over one hundred national and international conferences. Amutabi is the Vice-President of the Kenya Studies and Scholars’ Association (KESSA), Kenya’s premier research and academic organization. He is the editor-in-chief of Kenya Studies Review and Eastern Africa Journal of Humanities and Sciences. Prof. Amutabi has conducted extensive research on many issues of development. He has taught courses on peace and conflict and gender and development. He teaches in the PhD and Masters Programme in the Institute of Peace and Security Studies at Kisii University. He enjoys blogging and writing and is an avid sports fan, but does not support any of team, preferring to support the team that plays well.
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One Response to Besieged Muamar Gadaffi goes digital and blames Al-Qaeda for his woes

  1. osoit says:

    Prof. in hindsight have you not confirmed that indeed AL-Qaeda leaders such as Abdul Hakim belhajj and others were NATO’s infantry during the war on Libya. Libya is now unstable and a new terrorist haven where all manner of criminal groups are assembled.

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