There is no question that initially there was confusion Thursday when unconfirmed reports out of Libya stated that Gaddafi was captured. However within a few hours news came that he had been killed during a battle between the rebels and forces loyal to Gaddafi . Sure enough, within another hour it was confirmed that Gaddafi was killed as mobile phone videos appeared showing a bloodied Gaddafi dazed and confused as rebels jostled all around him to get a piece of the brutal dictator that they had known for more than 42 years.
Exact details are presently murky in regards to his capture and death but it appears that during a battle in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte on Thursday morning, Gaddafi’s convoy was spotted by NATO drone aircraft
and surveillance and was reportedly fired upon by French air strike on a road by fighter jets killing a few dozen fighters. Gaddafi managed to escape with a few of his bodyguards and was found hiding in a sewage pipe by a huge mob of rebels. Hours later, the world saw footages of a severely wounded Gaddafi being held up and surrounded by the rebels begging for mercy. Reports state that he was shot and killed during the crossfire between the Libyan rebels and his loyalists. And yet there is a sense that he was executed either by those that captured him or by order of the ruling Transitional National Council made up of the rebel leadership.
Regardless of how he was killed, more important questions need to be asked. What happens next in Libya? How will a government be formed for a country that is effectively starting over from scratch? This after all is a country that had been held hostage by a dictator for nearly half a century and it is going to need lots of international assistance in transitioning into having an effective and competent government, one that is far better that what the people of Libya have lived under for so long. Also, how will the Arab Spring and this momentum affect the tenuous situation in several other Arab capitals that are dealing with their own unrest and near civil wars?
Gaddafi’s graphic end was not unlike those of Saddam Hussein of Iraq. His last few hours being injured and captured hiding in a large sewage pipe must have been a far cry from the life he had led for so long as one of the longest serving heads of state and richest people in the world. Saddam too was found near his hometown of Tikrit as he was hiding like a common criminal in a spiderhole when he was caught. In the last few moments of their capture, neither men could not have believed that their worst fears had been realized and their long reign was coming to an end. More rulers across the Arab and indeed Muslim world today must be cognizant of the consequences of their actions as rulers and either allow for freedoms and true democracy, or face similar macabre ends.
The revolts of the Arab Spring have now succeeded in changing repressive governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya. Further east still in Syria, an even more brutal dictator in Bashar al Assad, must know that his time is coming near and his day of reckoning is a day closer when his countrymen stand up to brutality, repression, and mass murder at the hands of those who are supposed to be their leaders.
To be consistent, NATO and Western nations must remain vigilant and oppose the brutality presently happening in Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain and all other nations of the region and world regardless of strategic and mineral importance simply on the basis of principles and what is right. Singularly exerting pressure or using force against countries that are either strategically important like Egypt, for its Suez canal, or oil rich nations like Iraq and Libya for their natural resources will only send the wrong message to many other people in the region whose huddled masses are also yearning to be free. So how this change in power happens and how the thug
and dictator is deposed is not as important as the fact that power changes hands in these long repressive regimes. It does not matter how Gaddafi
died, what is important is that he is dead and his death could help gain momentum for the Arab Spring that has now clearly sprung far and wide.