IN LIBYA the bloodshed continues, as does Muammar Qaddafi’s defiance in the face of his people’s protests and international outrage. Arab commentators have been scrutinising those who have supported Mr Qaddafi over the years, wondering what can be done to prevent further violence and asking and how the various Arab revolutions will cope with challenges of making the transition to democracy.
In response to criticism of Arab diplomatic collusion with Mr Qaddafi, the Arab League has suspended his membership. Khalid al-Zubayday in a Jordanian newspaper, al-Dostour, points to Arab protest movements as proof of the failure of traditional Arab leadership:
The accumulation of centralised power by these governments and their refusal to grant even the most basic rights to their citizens has now led to their own downfall. Most importantly, the youth movement has not harnassed any religious ideology, nor has it looked to traditional leader. They talked lots and did little, while the young people talked little but achieved a great deal, laying the ground for the Arab nation to reclaim its rightful status.
The future of the people of the region is at stake.
In al-Hayat, a Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily, Randa Takieddine criticises Western leaders who she says have overlooked Mr Qaddafi’s human-rights abuses in recent years:
This "leader" has, for many years, wasted the wealth of his country, kept his people under lock and key, and nurtured terrorist movements from east to west. And now he is wildly trying to kill off those of his compatriots who would rather die than let him cling to power any longer. Europe and America carry a large part of the responsibility for this because they opened their doors to Qaddafi, rushing to rehabilitate him among the international community.
The Libyan state-owned media have covered pro-Qaddafi demonstrations and published outright threats against anti-government demonstrators. But a staff editorial in Quryna, a Libyan newspaper owned by Mr Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, seems to be trying to find the middle ground, implying that the anti-Qaddafi movement is no longer peaceful but calling on all parties to refrain from violence:
While the first three days of demonstration were peaceful, in the last few days they have devolved into a gruesome slaughter, horrifying to all, without exception… Many have been killed in the two-day-long clashes with demonstrators at the headquarters of the al-Fadeel Abou ‘Umar brigade in the al-Kaysh district. Although our role as journalists is normally to investigate events objectively and analyse them, we felt compelled to urgently call on the city’s religious leaders, social elite, and all citizens of conscience to move, peacefully, to prevent further casualties.
The London-based Libyan newspaper Libya Al-Youm has published many pro-revolution editorials, including this appeal to Libyans by Mr al-Ameen Balhajj, a former spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya:
My compatriots of august Libya, my fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters, I greet each one of you with great pride for we Libyans have ignited the spark of freedom. We have broken the wall of fear and have dispersed the clouds of hesitance. We all now have but one path, one goal: that Libya, for whose freedom our forefathers fought, should become a state governed by the rule of law.
Some commentators, however, remain concerned about the future of post-revolutionary Arab states. Hazim Saghiya, in al-Hayat again, tries to address the dual concerns of human rights and stability, recognising the challenges that a post-Qaddafi Libya may face with the meeting the protesters’ demands:
The fact is that history cannot be wiped away to leave a clean slate. Championing the most progressive ideas, believing in them fervently doesn’t necessarily mean they are feasible. There are broader realities to be contended with, the most important of which is the objective ability to make revolution or democracy implementable...None of this should be taken to mean that the masses should just submit to their regimes’ blackmailing logic that says you are either for us and for stability, or for change and anarchy...What can be said about the Libyan regime except that it defies all analysis and theorising? Perhaps just that it alone–and not those rising up against it–bears responsibility for the chaos and violence which have been unleashed.