[Marxism] Qaddafis launch jihad

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 3 19:22:12 MDT 2011

(I wonder how all the pro-Qaddafi leftists are going to spin this!)

NY Times August 3, 2011
Libya Allying With Islamists, Qaddafi Son Says

TRIPOLI, Libya — After six months battling a rebellion that his family 
portrayed as an Islamist conspiracy, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s son and 
one-time heir apparent said Wednesday that he was reversing course to 
forge a behind-the-scenes alliance with radical Islamist elements among 
the Libyan rebels to drive out their more liberal-minded confederates.

“The liberals will escape or be killed,” the son, Seif al-Islam 
el-Qaddafi, vowed in an hourlong interview that stretched past midnight. 
“We will do it together,” he added, wearing a newly grown beard and 
fingering Islamic prayer beads as he reclined on a love seat in a spare 
office tucked in a nearly deserted downtown hotel. “Libya will look like 
Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?”

The leading Islamist whom Mr. Qaddafi identified as his main counterpart 
in the talks, Ali Sallabi, acknowledged their conversations but 
dismissed any suggestion of an alliance. He said the Libyan Islamists 
supported the rebel leaders’ calls for a pluralistic democracy without 
the Qaddafis.

But the interview nonetheless offered a rare glimpse into the defiant, 
some say delusional, mentality of the Qaddafi family at a time when they 
have all but completely retreated from public view under the threat of a 
NATO bombing campaign, now five months old, and a six-month rebellion.

On one level, Mr. Qaddafi’s avowed embrace of the Islamists represents a 
sharp personal reversal for a man who had long styled himself as a 
cosmopolitan, Anglophile advocate of Western-style liberal democracy. He 
continues to refer to the Islamists as “terrorists” and “bloody men,” 
and says, “We don’t trust them, but we have to deal with them.”

But it may also be simply a twist on an old theme, a new version of the 
Qaddafi argument that by assisting the rebels the Western intervention 
could usher in a radical Islamist takeover. In a further taunt to the 
West, he suggested that the Qaddafis would even help the Islamists stamp 
out the liberals.

“You want us to make a compromise. O.K. You want us to share the pot. 
O.K., But with who?” he said in imagined dialogue with the Western 
powers. The Islamists, he said, answering his own questions, “are the 
real force on the ground.”

“Everybody is taking off the mask, and now you have to face the 
reality,” he said. “I know they are terrorists. They are bloody. They 
are not nice. But you have to accept them.” He seemed to enjoy repeating 
the notion that Western capitals would be forced to welcome the 
ambassadors or defense minister of a new Islamist Libya.

“It is a funny story,” he said, though he insisted in all seriousness 
that he and the Islamists would announce a joint communiqué within days, 
from both Tripoli and the rebels’ provisional capital of Benghazi, 
Libya. “We will have peace during Ramadan,” he said, referring to the 
current Islamic holy month.

Less than a week after the mysterious killing of the rebels’ top 
military commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, by rebel gunmen, Mr. 
Qaddafi also seemed to be trying to capitalize on potential divisions 
within their ranks. There have been suggestions that the general was 
killed by an Islamist faction, perhaps in retaliation for his actions in 
his former role as Colonel Qaddafi’s interior minister, charged with the 
detention and torture of radical Islamists.

“They decided to get rid of those people — the ex-military people like 
Abdul Fattah and the liberals — to take control of the whole operation,” 
Mr. Qaddafi said. “In other words, to take off the mask.”

He said that the rebel-held eastern city of Darna, long known as a 
hotbed of Islamist activism, had already come to resemble the lawless 
regions of Pakistan. “It is Waziristan on the Mediterranean,” he said, 
adding that he had reached an agreement with local Islamists to allow 
them to make it “an Islamic zone, like Mecca.”

His comments also conveyed a new disdain for peace talks — with either 
the rebels’ governing council or its NATO backers — which Qaddafi 
spokesmen still call for almost every day. Mr. Qaddafi attributed 
recognition by the United States and other countries of the rebels’ 
governing council to “a lot of idiot people around the world.” As for 
the rebels themselves, Mr. Qaddafi called them “rats” and their council 
“a fake,” “a joke” and “a puppet.”

Rebel leaders and Western governments have long acknowledged the 
presence of Islamists among the rebel fighters, including at least one 
who was previously imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and another 
believed to have been in Afghanistan when Al Qaeda ran training camps 
under Taliban rule. But Western governments have so far accepted the 
Libyan Islamists’ pledges of support for a pluralistic democracy after 
the ouster of Colonel Qaddafi, concluding that their agenda is purely 
domestic and poses no broader threat.

Mr. Qaddafi, however, has his own history with Libya’s Islamists, many 
of whom his father sent to jail during a long campaign to stamp out an 
organization known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Under the 
umbrella of liberalization, the younger Mr. Qaddafi led an initiative to 
rehabilitate many of them.

“I released them from prison, I know them personally, they are my 
friends,” he said, though he added that he considered their release “of 
course a mistake,” because of their role in the revolt.

As for the future of an Islamist Libya, Mr. Qaddafi was vague on the 
details. He said that he had assented to Islamist demands to prohibit 
any constitution other than the Koran, though Mr. Sallabi, the Islamist 
leader, said he has written publicly in support of a civil constitution.

And Mr. Qaddafi refused to discuss his own or his father’s future role. 
That was a question for after negotiating a peace, he said. “It is like 
you shoot first and ask questions later.”

Although in recent weeks the rebellion has edged forward on three 
different fronts around Tripoli, Mr. Qaddafi insisted: “We are more 
united, relaxed, more confident. The rebels are losing every day.”

Mr. Qaddafi also described some of his family’s contacts with rebel 
officials that have stirred controversy. Many in the rebel ranks have 
suspected General Younes, a former Qaddafi confidante, of maintaining 
ties to his former boss, and the younger Mr. Qaddafi appeared to confirm 
those suspicions.

“We met him twice in Italy,” he said. “We told him, ‘You will be killed 
at the end of the day because you are playing with the snakes,’ and he 
said, ‘Nonsense.’ ”

But he talked mostly about his conversations with Mr. Sallabi, who Mr. 
Qaddafi called the “the real leader” of the rebellion and “the spiritual 
leader” of its Islamists. “He said liberals, the secular people, they 
are drunk all the time, they have no place here in Libya,” Mr. Qaddafi 
said. “These are our common enemies, those nice people with jackets and 
ties, flying in on private jets from Paris and London.”

But Mr. Sallabi said he welcomed the secular leaders. “Liberals are a 
part of Libya,” he said. “I believe in their right to present their 
political project and convince the people with it.” As for their 
conversations, Mr. Sallabi said that Mr. Qaddafi was the one who 
contacted the rebels. “There were many discussions between him and the 
opposition,” Mr. Sallabi said. “The first thing discussed is their 
departure from power.”

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