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Does Libyan Endgame Mark New Beginning for Arab Spring?

Posted on the 23 August 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Does Libyan endgame mark new beginning for Arab Spring?

The red, black and green flag of the Libyan opposition movement. Photo credit: Maggie Osama

The shocking re-appearance of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who was yesterday widely reported to be in Libyan rebel custody, has some now wondering if the Libyan endgame could prove far more protracted and bloody than as first expected. Euphoria on the streets of Tripoli has been replaced by a sense of unease. Yet, despite the current confusion, observers concur that the Gaddafi regime is on its knees and teetering on the verge of total collapse. Commentators have focused on what the fall of the 42-year-old Libyan regime means for the Arab Spring of revolt.

“Tripoli is under our control. Everyone should rest assured,” a defiant Saif al-Islam told BBC journalists at Tripoli’s Rixos hotel, which is close to Gaddafi’s bab al-Azizia compound. He added, somewhat implausibly, that Gaddafi forces had “broken the backbone” of the rebel offensive. Al-Islam’s take on the situation did not wash with British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who said on Tuesday: “Let’s be clear: this is not the sound of some great comeback from Gaddafi regime. He is not roaming freely through Tripoli: he and the remaining Gaddafi forces are cornered. We are very confident indeed.”

“With both the Gaddafis and the rebel leaders now claiming they control the capital, sorting truth from fiction is not easy. Eyewitnesses say Gaddafi’s green flag still flies over parts of Tripoli, while there are reports that the Gaddafi regime is moving troops back into Tripoli from strongholds outside the capital,” informed Nigel Horne at

  • Arab Spring is blossoming again. Mark Lynch of Foreign Policy insisted that scenes of Libyan “Freedom Fighters” entering Tripoli has sent an “electric shock through the Arab public.” “I don’t see how anybody watching al-Jazeera, following Arab social media networks, or talking to people in the region could fail to appreciate the interconnected nature of Arab struggles,” argued Lynch, who added, “nobody thinks that the new enthusiasm from Libya will on its own magically end the stalemate in Yemen or stop the bloodshed in Syria. But the impact of Qaddafi’s fall is resonating powerfully across the region in all the right ways.”  Arab activists across the region will now likely try to “jump-start protest movements which had lost momentum” forecast Lynch.
  • Domino theories are a fraud. Robert Fisk of The Independent argued that “Arab Spring-Summer-Autumn” awakening is set to run and run: “The remaining Arab potentates and tyrants have spent a second sleepless night. How soon will the liberators of Tripoli metamorphose into the liberators of Damascus and Aleppo and Homs? Or of Amman? Or Jerusalem? Or of Bahrain or Riyadh?” But Fisk noted that “every revolution has its own characteristics” and insisted that “foresight a skill which the Arabs and the West have both neglected” and that both have “lost the ability to think of the future. The next 24 hours is all that matters. Will there be protests in Hama tomorrow? What is Obama to say on prime time? What is Cameron to say to the world? Domino theories are a fraud. The Arab Spring is going to last for years. We better think about that. There is no ‘end of history.’”

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