Qaddafi was leading a world revolution. The revolution would challenge every aspect of Eurocentric epistemology and its inherent racism. It was more than a social, political and economic revolution; it was nothing short of a spiritual and cultural revolution. This confounded not only the imperialist powers but also their reactionary Arab satraps.
October 20th, 2017, marks the sixth anniversary of the martyrdom of Muammar Qaddafi, revolutionary Pan-Africanist and champion of the Global South. This day also marks the sixth anniversary of the historic battle of Sirte, where Qaddafi, along with an heroic army, including his son Mutassim Billal Qaddafi, and veteran freedom fighter, Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, fought until their convoy was bombed by French fighter planes. Wounded and demobilized, they were captured by Qatari scavengers and executed by Al-Qaeda operatives.
The courageous men of the original Free Officers’ Union, who were guides and leaders of the then 42-year-old Al-Fatah Revolution, demonstrated extraordinary revolutionary fortitude, heroism and audacity in the face of their enemies. As young men in their twenties, they overthrew the Western-installed Libyan monarchy and ushered in the Jamahiriya, and as elders in their seventies, they refused to leave Libya and, instead, fought to the bitter end, on the frontlines, alongside their people. Their example will forever shine as an eternal light in the hearts of all those who struggled alongside them to build the closest thing to a real democracy, and a United States of Africa, that modern history has ever seen. The execution of Muammar Qaddafi and those that fought alongside him, and the destruction of the Libyan Jamahiriya is one of the greatest crimes of this century.
Those responsible, including Nicolas Sarkozy, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, David Cameron, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Emir Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
October 2011: A ravaged Sirte is evidence of the ferocity of the heroic battle staged by loyalist forces against the invaders.
Heroes: the millions of armed Libyan men and women who stepped up to defend their Revolution
The Libyan people were an unarmed people and Qaddafi often moved among them with minimal security only present to control the crowds that wanted to greet him and shake his hand. Repressive dictators do not arm their people.
What we knew all along is now a substantiated and indisputable fact – there was never a mass uprising in Benghazi or anywhere in Libya. The Libyan people in their millions made it clear that they supported the Al-Fatah Revolution.
During the invasion of Libya, 1.7million people - 95% of the population of Tripoli and one third of the entire population of Libya - gathered in downtown Tripoli in what has been called the largest demonstration in world history to support Qaddafi and the revolution. Syrians living in Libya can be seen in the centre of the photo waving the Syrian flag.
A coalition of the wicked, comprising US/NATO forces, the semi-feudal Arab regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Sudan, and a rag-tag bunch of monarchists and al-Qaeda linked terrorists inside Libya, that had been working with the CIA and M15 for decades, was assembled, and united in their goal. For them, total destruction was the only solution.
Every attempt was made by Qaddafi and his supporters to negotiate a peaceful solution, including inviting international observers into the country to see for themselves what was really taking place, something the imperialists could not allow to happen. This was their golden opportunity to destroy Qaddafi and the Jamahiriya, a plan they had been waiting to execute for years. There were mass uprisings on either side of Libya, in Tunisia and Egypt. The West had already coined the term “Arab Spring” and was busy hijacking revolts elsewhere. Time was of the essence. In fact, in what can only be described as a frenzy, they may have set a world record for the speed with which they managed to push through the illegal resolution at the UN, their cover for the invasion. The fake news and false narrative machine was in full swing. Within 24 hours, UN bodies had transformed Qaddafi from a person about to receive the UN Human Rights Award into a man killing his own people. The Jamahiriya was targeted for destruction and nothing was going to stop them.
Foreign forces, including the CIA, Dutch Marines, French and Sudanese military personnel, Qatari Special Forces, Al Qaeda fighters - facilitated by the Saudis, as they are facilitating Al Qaeda in Yemen today - were all in place weeks before the staged protests began in Benghazi in February 2011. This was a well-planned and coordinated operation.
“Sometimes the enemy is the best teacher”
Kwame Ture, revolutionary Pan-Africanist and former executive member of the World Mathaba, opined that sometimes the enemy is the best teacher. He instructed us to study the enemy’s strategy and tactics and to remember that the enemy only goes after those whom they deem to be a real threat to their imperial interests. Pan-Africanist and former president of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure, said that, “if the enemy is not bothering with you, then know that you are doing nothing”.
The forces of US-EU imperialism were always bothering Muammar Qaddafi. They were bent on discrediting, demonizing and finding a way to obliterate him and the Libyan Jamahiriya from its inception in 1969, until they finally achieved their nefarious objective in 2011.
Referring to Qaddafi as “the mad dog of the Middle-East”, Ronald Reagan, in a nationwide broadcast, said that Qaddafi’s goal was “world revolution”, claiming that he (Qaddafi) was promoting “a Muslim fundamentalist revolution, which targeted many of his own Arab compatriots.”
There is an African saying: “Mouth open, story jump out”. What Ronald Reagan was describing sounds like the imperialist plan. It was Ronald Reagan who welcomed leaders of the Afghan Mujahadeen, who were fighting the Soviets at the time, to the Oval Office and referred to them as Jihadi freedom fighters. Today as we face Al Qaeda and their various offshoots, including the infamous ISIL, we are witnessing the devastating results of this sinister imperialist game plan. Ever since the days when the British colonial forces facilitated the creation of the Wahhabi kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the imperialists have encouraged, supported and funded the growth of Islamic fundamentalist groups. They understood that this was imperative if they were to counter the resurgence of an Islamic theology of liberation, in the revolutionary tradition of Abu Dharr al Ghifari, and as propounded in contemporary times by outstanding Islamic thinkers, such as Muammar Qaddafi, Ali Shariati, Kaukab Siddique, Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, Muhammad Iqbal and Mahmoud Ayoub.
Again, we can learn from the enemy. Just as the imperialists and right-wing Christian fundamentalists waged an unrelenting war against the Social Gospel Movement and Christian liberation theology, as articulated by revolutionary theologians such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Miguel Bonino, James Cone and Enrique Dussel, they knew very well that Islamic liberation theology must be countered. The enemy understood the power of this theology in term of its ability to act as a bulwark against the imperial hegemon. They knew that this authentic and revolutionary Islam would prevent them from exercising control over an awakened Muslim World.
Reagan was right about one thing, Muammar Qaddafi indeed had a goal of world revolution – it was a revolution that would put the tenets of Islamic liberation theology into practice. Qaddafi’s conception of this revolution was holistic. His revolution would challenge every aspect of Eurocentric epistemology and its inherent racism. The Libyan revolution was more than a social, political and economic revolution; it was nothing short of a spiritual and cultural revolution. This confounded not only the imperialist powers but also their reactionary Arab satraps.
The World Mathaba
The World Mathaba, established by Muammar Qaddafi in 1982, had as its stated mission, “to resist imperialism, racism, fascism, zionism, colonialism and neo-colonialism”. The Mathaba denotes a place where people gather for a noble purpose. Based in Libya, it became a meeting place for revolutionary and progressive forces from all over the world. Similar to the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, which became a major intellectual center during the Islamic Golden Age and the University of Sankore in Timbuktu, where scholars of the day converged to discuss and debate ideas and formulate new ideas, the Mathaba became a forum for the advancement of a Third Universal Theory beyond Capitalism and Communism. Prior to the Mathaba, the only international formations for progressive and revolutionary organizations had been the Soviet dominated Comintern, that demanded an ideological allegiance to Marxism-Leninism and the Socialist International, which brought together social-democratic parties. The ideological rigidity of these two international formations excluded organizations and movements that rejected Eurocentric ideologies, including many Indigenous and Pan-African organizations who found a home in the World Mathaba.
Through the Mathaba, Qaddafi assisted all those who were fighting for liberation and self-determination, regardless of whether or not it was in Libya’s geo-political interests to do so. Under Qaddafi’s visionary leadership, material assistance and moral support was provided to the oppressed from every corner of the earth, regardless of religion or ideology. All were helped - from the Roma people of Eastern Europe to the Kanak people of New Caledonia in the Southwest Pacific, to the Rohinga people, who are presently being ethnically cleansed by the Buddhist chauvinists of Myanmar, and who the UN recently referred to as “the most friendless people”. What the hypocritical UN body failed to mention was that they once had a friend in Muammar Qaddafi.
Qaddafi noted on many occasions that the Libyan Revolution had a sacred duty to help all those who were in legitimate need and suffering persecution, since this was in accordance with the teachings of the Quran, which was Libya’s constitution. The bedrock of Islam is to enjoin that which is good and condemn that which is wrong and unjust. Any Muslim, regardless of their interpretation of Quranic teachings, will admit that the Quran clearly states that the weakest response to injustice is to hate it in your heart, the second weakest response is to speak against it and the strongest response is to oppose it in every way possible.
A Spiritual Revolution
Leader of the Philippine based Moro National Liberation Front, Nur Misuari, in a lecture he delivered in 1990 at the Green World Institute in Tripoli, explained that inserting the word “Islamic” into the name of a country or organization, like the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ or ‘Moro Islamic Liberation Front’ did not make the country or organization Islamic.
Declaring yourself an “Islamic” country like Saudi Arabia and Qatar does not make you Islamic. To be a truly Islamic society and nation, there has to be a spiritual revolution. A revolution that raises the spiritual consciousness of the people. A revolution that counters the false Islam that the oppressors promote, that abolishes capitalism and the semi-feudal social relations sustained by the ruling elites in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Sudan. This is why Qaddafi was such a threat to the imperialists and their Muslim surrogates. He was not only propounding dangerous ideas, he was building a new society - a Jamahiriya – a state of the masses, a real democracy based on the revolutionary teachings of the Quran, which according to South African political scientist, Themba Sono, “created conditions for the many to rule themselves”. Sono goes on to explain,
“For Qaddafi, this is part of the natural order in which the majority rules themselves rather than for a minority to exercise power over a majority... Qaddafi denies that the emanations from the activity of electoral participants can never be called rule, not only because such rule would be unethical and thereby unstable, but also because it would contradict the very essence and fundamental tenet of democracy, which is, to be tautological, that, naturally, free people must and can rule themselves.”
It was a dangerous precedent that the imperialists could not allow to continue. As Sono notes in his book, The Qaddafi Green Syndrome: Shaking the Foundations: “Qaddafi does not care to investigate whether or not the people are capable of ruling themselves, for he asks the question, how do we do that without giving the people, not only the right but the opportunity to do so? Who is to know beforehand and therefore to decide a priori that the people are not qualified to rule themselves?”
Dangerous Ideas Indeed
Applying the principles of Qaddafi’s Third Universal Theory transformed Libya from one of the poorest countries in the world, to not only one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, but in many respects one of the most prosperous countries worldwide. Facts and figures substantiate this claim. Libya had no foreign debt and actually deposited payments from oil revenue into the bank accounts of its citizens. As is by now well documented, Libyans had access to free quality healthcare, free education from nursery to university level, rent free housing, free electricity, subsidized food – a very high standard of living. Imperialists hate these types of precedents. What if, upon seeing these achievements, other nations decided to disregard the Western-style systems of governance and the neo-liberal capitalist model that simply widens the gap between have and have-nots? What if countries in Africa, seeing Libya’s advancement and prosperity, decided to rid themselves of the bogus liberal-democratic tradition that empowers 1% of humanity to rule over 99%? What if others decided to reject the multi-party electoral circus, designed to divide and fragment our countries along ethnic and tribal lines, and instead, opted for a Jamahiriya or State of the Masses?
Once asked by a journalist, what was the one thing he wanted to achieve most in his lifetime, Qaddafi replied, “to change the world”. And he was coming close. Muammar Qaddafi and the empowered Libyan Jamahiriya were leading the movement to establish a United States of Africa, with a united military and a single currency, a dinar backed by Africa’s gold reserves. This would have actually dethroned the US dollar and shifted the global economic imbalance. This would have indeed changed the world.
So, on October 20, 2011, the Satanic forces that had been at war with Qaddafi and the Libyan Jamahiriya from its inception in 1969 dealt their final blow to the man known to revolutionaries throughout the world as the Brother-Leader, and to revolutionary Muslims throughout Africa and the world, as the “Commander of the Faithful”.
“If they get past Libya, they are coming for you…”
Six years later and the fallout from this criminal act is still being felt everywhere. Key development projects throughout Africa, financed by Libya, have all grounded to a halt. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, key players in Libya’s demise, are now busy grabbing large tracts of land in Africa. This would not have been possible if Qaddafi was alive. The expansion of AFRICOM, the expansion of US military bases, and the building of new military bases by the Chinese and the Turks in Africa would also not have been possible if Qaddafi was alive. Indeed, there would have been a fierce resistance to the current recolonization and re-carving of Africa if Muammar Qaddafi was alive and the Libyan Jamahiriya was flourishing as before.
Of course, the urgent need to recolonize an Africa that was awakening to its own power and ability to unite and self-determine was the very reason for the overthrow of Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution. It is not surprising that the French led the charge. In March 2008, former French president, Jacques Chirac said, “Without Africa, France would slide down into the rank of a Third World power”. As early as 1957, long before he became president, Francois Mitterrand said, “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century”.
Libya has been transformed into a dysfunctional neo-colonial entity, where an array of militias squabble over territory and spoils. Its vast landmass has become a safe haven and training ground for ISIL and other Al-Qaeda offshoots. Thousands of Libyans and other African nationals are still detained without trial in what can only be described as concentration camps. Many have been tortured and executed in these same camps, their only crime, being Qaddafi loyalists. Those now in control of Libya hated Qaddafi’s Pan-African objectives. They are Arab supremacists and are persecuting Black Libyans and other African nationals.
Thousands of loyalists and migrants from other African countries languish in prisons.
Africans who once travelled to Libya to work and send back much needed funds to their families are now crossing the Mediterranean. Entire boatloads of people, including women and children are drowning as they make the perilous journey. Our ancestors were once captured and forced on to boats against their will, many perished during that crossing, today, we are clamoring to secure a place on boats that are not even seaworthy to escape the conditions created by our former enslavers. Many are still perishing.
Qaddafi would often lament, “the world shakes, but it doesn’t change”.
Workers from as far afield as the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Turkey, Germany, England, Italy, Malaysia and Korea lost their jobs.
The entire refugee crisis across Europe is a result of the destruction of the Jamahiriya.
The push to establish a United States of Africa, which prior to Libya’s demise was a dynamic and energized initiative, is presently a dream deferred. Revolutionary Pan-Africanism has suffered a huge setback. Today’s African leaders, with the exception of a few, are only good for talking Pan-Africanism in the halls of the African Union headquarters. Outside of these confines, they are committed to maintaining the old neo-colonial relationships that keep Africa in bondage.
We Salute You
On this day, all those who resist oppression and tyranny worldwide, salute the great freedom fighter and our Brother-Leader Muammar Qaddafi and the other revolutionary leaders of Al Fatah. We pay homage to their dedicated and life-long struggle for human emancipation and dignity. We are forever inspired by their steadfast and courageous fight to the end, and by their unwavering faith in, and service to God. We are grateful for their undying love for the African continent and all of humanity. We salute the millions of Libyan men and women who heroically resisted the invasion of their country, and who continue to suffer to this day. We stand in solidarity with the family of Muammar Qaddafi and the families of all the martyrs. We stand in solidarity with the thousands of political prisoners inside Libya and the more than 1.5 million Qaddafi loyalists exiled from their country. We commit our full support to the struggle being waged by the patriotic and nationalist forces to liberate and reunify Libya once again. For the Green revolutionary, death is not the end, but the doorway to a new beginning. Martyrs never die.
* GERALD A. PERREIRA is chairperson of the Guyanese organizations Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG) and Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP). He is an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network for Defense of Humanity. He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fatah revolution, and was a founding member of the World Mathaba, based in Tripoli, Libya. He can be reached at [email protected].