Qaddafi plays off the international community’s fear of illegal immigration and al-Qaeda. The truth, however, is that Qaddafi’s policies of oppression give rise to radicalism. In turn, Qaddafi benefits from illegal immigration, and the fear is intensified.
Qaddafi uses religion to propagate his politics, to affirm his rule, and to intimidate opponents. In 1970, he founded the Islamic Call Society (ICS), whose charter mandates proselytizing in Africa and elsewhere. The ICS still exists under the close supervision and guise of the Libyan External Security Organization, and its role has expanded to include subversion tactics and propaganda.
Qaddafi calls his opponents Zanadeqa (heretics) and hails himself the “imam of all Muslims.” During a July 2005 meeting with a state-controlled trade union, the crowd chanted, “We value and are proud of your imamship for millions of Muslims from East to West, so that the banner of Islam can be raised so high to fulfill the will of Allah.”
Before Qaddafi’s regime, Libyans participated in a constitutional democracy — though not perfect, its abuses paled in comparison with the atrocities that are occurring in Libya today. For example, thousands of Libyans have died in peaceful marches calling for freedom and democracy.
The citizens’ struggle against Qaddafi’s rule is not equal — nor do they have similar access to military supplies. He has planes, tens of thousands of security brigades, and the help of foreign mercenaries. Conversely, revolutionaries are lightly armed and at times have only their bodies to protect others against Qaddafi’s killing machine.
The U.N., under its responsibility and accountability to the international community, must protect the Libyan people from Qaddafi and his forces. In conjunction with the existent ICC inquiry, the U.N. must institute a no-fly zone over Libya, Qaddafi’s tanks and heavy weapons must be disbanded and removed immediately, foreign journalists must be protected, and all communication media must be restored.
The Libyan people are capable of using their nation’s wealth to build a thriving democratic country. Although it will be challenging to build and sustain the necessary institutions, Qaddafi must leave in order to facilitate this much-needed transition.