Like the Iranians, the Berbers are not Arabs, and like in Iran, the dictator has tried to suppress the minority, forcing pan-Arabism upon a minority people. In Iran there are people who want to be able to practice their own religion, which is neither Christian nor Muslim. In Libya, the Berbers had been forbidden to speak, write or read their own language for the past 40 or more years – until the rebellion, when for the first time a newspaper has been written in their own language.
Coming to grips with the tribal make-up in Libya is difficult, but it is important to understand these differences in order to understand the strength of the opposition, and why Berbers and Arabs are able to work together to bring down the Gadhafi regime that is so very much hated. It is also important to understand the tribal nature of Libya in order to understand the lack of relevance of Al Qaeda and even Islamism in Libya, even though there are some Islamists in the country. Whilst some people stress about the potential of AQ in Libya it would seem that they are stressing out needlessly where the majority of Libyans are concerned.
The propaganda war in Libya is continuing to rage, and this means that westerners, who are opposed to helping the rebels are accepting information that at best should be described as discredited. The Gadhafi regime has consistently claimed that they were responding to “armed gangs” and “Al Qaeda” and this is the same chant heard in Syria, but it is not true.
Anyone who had watched the whole thing develop in Libya would know that Gadhafi was alerted to the possibility of protests beginning, at the time of the Egyptian protests. There was one small article at the time that signalled something was up in Libya. I noted the article, but I thought that Gadhafi might have gone in an opposite direction. I was wrong in my assessment at the time. Instead, what he did was consult with his son Saif al-Islam, called home his son Saif al-Arab, and conspired with his brother-in-law Sanoussi to put down any rebellion. The results, from the first protests were deadly. Unarmed civilians were killed during those first protests. It is important to understand that these protesters were not Islamists.
Just as important is understanding the historical background of Libya, and even the role of Libya in two world wars. Whose side were the Berbers on during the second world war? I bet it was not on the side of Italy and Germany!! There is a lot of research that needs to be done to try and discover the relationship that the Libya of pre-Gadhafi days had towards the west, because only in that way can I really say for certain that the National Transitional Council actually is pro-west. I believe them, but I could be wrong!!
About a week prior to the uprising in Libya Gadhafi released about 100 prisoners who had links to Al Qaeda. He did it deliberately so that he could blame them for the trouble that was about to erupt in the country. It gave him cover for pretending that he was responding to “armed gangs”. However, this whole “Al Qaeda” thing is pure propaganda.
Something else that I need to research is the Berber relationship with Al Qaeda, because this is something that is not very clear to me at the moment. Would the Berbers provide weapons to Al Qaeda when those weapons are needed to fight against Gadhafi? On the other hand, would Gadhafi release weapons to Al Qaeda and then blame those involved in the uprising?
If my hunch is correct, then the people who benefitted from the weapons drop – in Zintan and in the Western Mountains – are not Islamists (even though in Zintan there are very conservative people) – but that they are responsible people who will ensure that the weapons remain safe and do not fall into the wrong hands. It is a gamble. It is a risk. However, if it helps to end the Gadhafi regime it is a risk worth taking.
I will add more posts when I have done the appropriate research on Western Libya.