Sunday, February 27, 2011

Freedom for Libya: Beware Pretenders

Just about the entire 'International Community' is now calling for M. Qaddafi to go; to resign, to be arrested, or to simply expire (different voices, different messages). Not a whole lot of listening going on in the regime about that, though.

Meanwhile, the insurrectionists in the east of Libya (Cyrenaica) are attempting to form a provisional government. Luck to them on that:
It was not immediately clear how much support the proposed provisional leadership commands.
So... if Libya does ever manage to dispose of the Qaddafi regime... this would be the go-to for forming a replacement government, right?

Not so fast, there.

You see, there is a little bit of history regarding what happened at the end of the Libyan monarchy (the one brought down by Qaddafi's coup way back in 1969): King Idris was vulnerable not only because he didn't go along with the Pan-Arabist and Arab Nationalist mood of the times; He also never fathered a surviving male heir.

To manage this inconvenience, King Idris had in 1956 appointed his nephew Hasan ar Rida as-Senussi as Crown Prince. Near the end, King Idris had actually agreed to abdicate (mostly due to his ill-health) with the new monarch to be installed on 2.September, 1969. Qaddafi's coup struck on 1.September of that year. Hasan is gone now, having endured arrest, destruction of his property, and a stroke... the last of which being the only reason he ever got out of Libya (to the UK) in 1988. He died in 1992, but just prior to his demise he formally appointed his son Muhammad as-Senussi as heir to his claim. He's still amongst the living (no small achievement given the Qaddafi regime's habit of killing off rivals), residing in exile, and has recently been willing to modestly speak on behalf of the insurrection against Qaddafi. His declared opinion on a possible return of the monarchy is that he and his family 'are in the service of the Libyan people' but that the return is not a priority. He is calling for a restoration of the Libyan Constitution, although how and to what extent is not clear as he also calls for open elections.

But just to make things more difficult, the situation in the monarchy-in-exile isn't exactly cut-and-dried: There is an alternate claimant to the throne.

That would be the 1st cousin twice removed of the late King, the also-named Idris al-Senussi. He's the third son by the second wife of the late Prince Abdallah, the advisor to King Idris who was given the task of undoing Qaddafi's coup and restoring the monarchy. That banner has now passed to this Idris and he has made a career of selling himself to anyone who will listen as being the head of the government-in-exile and chief of counter-revolutionary activities. He's also a greedy opportunist without peer.

My gentle advice, were anyone to be listening, would be that the United Kingdom (or the United States of America, and any other member of the 'International Community' that is looking for leverage over the situation) be very very careful who they choose to associate with in the Libyan exile community. Muhammad, styled HRH, might be a good ally and a good voice of tradition to the people of Libya. Idris, self-styled HRH, is almost certainly more trouble than he is worth unless a place for him in a supporting role can be found... and very carefully managed. Otherwise, I'd say to pay him no heed.

Besides, the real decision is happening on the ground in Libya right now. All this other talk is simply positioning for the future... which for Libya is hopefully a bright future.


Caveat: many links above are from Wikipedia and used for convenience only. Please source all citations there directly.

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