Sunday, 20 February 2011

Seif's statement to exasperate Libya's protests

Seif al-Islam's statement on State TV is set to add fuel to fire.

On the one hand, the remarks promised marginal changes and reforms but carried more threats.

The protesters are now in charge of parts of eastern Libya, according to various media reports.

Not the Seif we know

The statement contradicted Seif's past remarks to the extent that many wished he had not spoken, on the other hand.

Sleman Dougha, the editor-in-chief of independent Libya al-Youm website, said on Al-Jazeer:
"It seemed that Gaddafi asked his son to talk to the Libyan people, and it looked as if Gaddafi himself was speaking."
Indeed, Seif al-Islam used oratorial style and thoughts that are coming straight from the book of Gaddafi speeches: Conspiracy theorites by foreigners, attacks on the media and threat to use more force. It also included scare-mongering over a plot to divide Libya and a warning of the loss of oil revenue if this is to happen.

Early reformist

The statement also sparked some quick condemnation from opposition circles.

Libyan journalist Ibrahim Jalal told Al-Jazeera that Seif's remarks on reform were very late.

"It is clear that Seif al-Islam got two qualities from his father: The underestimation of Libyans and the long, boring style of his father's [speeches]"
But Seif al-Islam rose to prominence and popularity in Libya several years ago for the very reasons that contradict what Jalal said: his disagreement with his father's governance.

He set up privately-owned media for the first time in Libya (papers such as Oea in Tripoli and Quryna in Benghazi).

He also prepared draft bills for new press and civil society laws.

Seif's latest efforts also involved brokering a deal between his father's regime and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Under the deal, the jihadists had "revised" their teachings and agreed to renounce violence for amnesty.

At some point in 2009, Seif represented to the Libyan youths all that is different and promising: a Western-oriented, educated man, who seems to care for the youths of his country; a person who is not in tandem with his father or his scandalous brothers.

Of course until his push started to wane, with the arrest of journalists working for Oea and Quryna, then the two papers' suspension. Then, he himself made a statement in 2010 in which he said he will not engage in Libyan politics after Col Gaddafi suggested that he becomes a prime minister.

Why flip now?

The derailment of Seif's efforst could not explain the U-turn we saw today in his statement.

Therefore, his speech could have been deliberately misleading, in which he simply relayed what he was told to do. It could also have been aimed at showing that any bet on his direct involvement in the protests, at least for now, will have to be reconsidered.

Until one hour ago, a positive stance by Seif could have jolted Col Gaddafi's camp by attracting support from western Libya, particularly from Tripoli, to the protesting camp.

This support from the western tribes is much needed by the protesters in the east.
In any case, according to Stratfor, Seif has finally made a move.

His appearence in place of Col Gaddafi, while is a strange move, is a sign that he is being propped up for something. Rumours already speak about Gaddafi's departure.

Nevertheless, protestors in Tunisia and Egypt pressed on even after major concessions were taken from Ben Ali and Mubarak.

The protesters in Derna have made their reaction very clear.

The crucial point is whether or not the protests will grip Tripoli, former UK ambassador Oliver Miles says.

The wave of discontent is now only 200 km to Tripoli (in Misratah) and some accounts by Enough Gaddafi say protests have already reached the capital.

No comments:

Post a Comment