Al-Ahram Weekly Online   27 October - 2 November 2011
Issue No. 1070
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

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Salama A Salama

Tragic ending

By Salama A Salama

The horrific way in which Muammar Gaddafi's life ended brought to conclusion an unusual era of tyranny. Ignorant, arrogant, and short sighted to the end; Gaddafi almost chose this bloody outcome. Having been wounded in a NATO strike on his convoy, Gaddafi sought refuge in a sewage pipe in the desert, only to be found and killed by revolutionary fighters.

A despotic leader for upwards of four decades, the images of his last moments mirrored that of the horror he brought to his people. This was not a man who learned from experience. Like Saddam Hussein, he was defiant to the last moment. Drunk on power, enriched by oil, and in possession of endless supplies of weapons, he thought he was unstoppable.

For many years, things went exactly as he wished. Not long ago, Tony Blair sought him out and Berlusconi spent hours entertaining him. Two years ago, he succeeded in getting Britain to release Al-Megrahi, the prime suspect in the Lockerbie bombing.

The history of Gaddafi is also the history of the opportunism of the West in dealing with Third World governments, where any deals are justified and any alliances acceptable as long as economic interests are intact and the oil keeps flowing.

It is also the history of cultural failure and the ineptitude of nations that sought independence and then abused it, of nations who chose chaos over freedom, posturing over power, pretensions above knowledge, and tyranny over democracy.

In contemporary Arab history, despotism remains the rule, even with despots overthrown or killed all around. Look around you and take a guess. Who's next? Who is the next Gaddafi? Who is the next Saddam? Who are the rulers cursed by their nations and despised by the rest of humanity? Who are the sons and grandsons being groomed for ultimate disaster?

Gaddafi was not the only one who committed crimes against his own people and the rest of the Arab nation. Others have done the same. Hosni Mubarak is only one, and to a lesser extent Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Many others have planted the seeds of tyranny in our soil, and we all reaped the horrible fruit. Many tried to bring Gaddafi back to reason, but they all failed. His madness had gone out of control, and the tragic ending was only to be expected.

Leaders who cannot tell right from wrong are a curse on their nations, and it is sad that in this part of the world, such leaders seem to sprout everywhere. Their failure to listen to advice, their greed for wealth, their insatiable appetite for power, and their cruel ways are a painful reminder of the lack of regular process for self-adjustment.

Democracy escaped us for decades, and now a ray of hope is penetrating the darkness. Tyrants in the Arab world have been put to notice. Their ways belong to the past and their future is one of doom.

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