Just a tribal war in Libya
In Libya and Yemen and Bahrain, as with Egypt, there is a LOT being published in the media, a LOT of commentary on-line, and a LOT of screaming back and forth about the wonderful revolt or rebellion and how it includes all the “lost” segments of Islamic society (women, homosexuals, atheists, etc.). Balderdash! All this indicates that people do NOT understand either tyranny, dictatorship, nor the history and current situation in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
Look first at Libya. Libya is a tribal society, and has been since the Arabs overran this part of the Roman empire in the 7th Century, including the Visigothic regime which had conquered this portion of the empire. The country doesn’t even have a constitution.
Gaddafi “overthrew” the old Islamist monarchy in 1969, but only because his tribe joined an alliance of other key tribes which did not want to remain under the tribe to which the monarchs had belonged from 1951 to 1969, and he was in front. He is not a figurehead, but the dominant personality and leader of a coalition of tribes in a bewildering array of committees and councils and even mixed tribal military and militia units. The national military is a cesspool of competing tribal interests. The “rebels” are not really rebels: they are tribes that have withdrawn from the various coalitions: often they are the majority, and the “government forces” are definitely in the minority: the tribes who still want to keep the current (or former) regime.
Some tribes have been very resistant to Gaddafi’s (and his tribe’s and their allies’) brand of government and Islam: they want to return to the Islamic tribal system, and have been under pressure from the more “secular” tribes and Gaddafi for decades (one reason Al Qaeda has so many Libyans in its ranks.) Other tribes just want to be in the driver’s seat. Though the current uprising has some popular roots, it is taking place and continuing because it is allowed and supported by several of the tribes which have decided to no longer participate in the shared power structure, either because THEY want to be boss, or because they are tired of the brutality used to enforce the “code of honor” that the tribes have used to resolve their conflicts.
Gaddafi (and his tribe) are in a bad position: his tribe was not a large one, and his personal influence, though built on his tribe, actually has supported and protected his tribe. Enough others have, until now, agreed with what he has done so that he has been in power for 42 years. But now enough tribes (and people) have withdrawn their support that it has collapsed into civil war. The protesters and the mobs are as much the tools of the tribes and power brokers as they are any kind of independent force for change.
The uprising and civil war is very VERY unlikely to lead to any “democratic” state - just a reordering of tribal power – even if the EU, NATO, or the US intervene. This is NOT a situation in which individual liberty is likely to increase - indeed, just the opposite. And in the chaos, the various small tribes and political groups, from Al Qaeda to the local branches of every possible group you can imagine, see this as the perfect opportunity to strike out at their enemies - but at the same time, they are better targets than ever for their own enemies.
As long as Arabs, Persians, and others are enslaved spiritually by their religion, Islam or “Submission”, and enslaved mentally by their tribal culture and society, there will be no “democratic” OR “republican” revolution on Arab Street, no individual liberty with personal responsibility, and no peace in the “Lands of Peace.” And if we do not understand that, we will continue to find OUR liberty and freedoms threatened by Islam and Arabs and their ilk two centuries from now.