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The Nightmare of Operation ‘Odyssey Dawn’

A personal view by Zlatko Pranjic

I was born in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. To those who have a slightest idea of what this Yugoslavia represented in the world order of the 1960's and 1970's, Gaddafiwill soon spring to mind. He was our student, among tens of thousands coming from Asian and African countries. Taking into account his unique madness, his revolutionary potential and his loyalty to the cause, he was, I guess, one of our favorites.

Yugoslavia does not exist any longer, but Gaddafi still flies fighters produced in our socialist factories, once the property of our people. He was a personal friend of our revolutionary leader, Josip Broz Tito.

The two men had a few things in common. Both believed in socialism, both enjoyed luxury life as statesmen. But then, in what way does their life style make them different from any banker or oligarch from the so-called free world?!  

When Tito died, his family did not inherit a penny. Well, to be completely honest, his grand daughter inherited a dog from him.

When Gaddafi dies, his people will inherit the only independent Arab oil industry. Or will they? Reminiscing on 'events' that took place during the civil war in that, by now, non-existent country of mine, knowing that civil war and chaos have some common features everywhere, I can perhaps foresee what will happen in Libya: paramilitary forces will take control of the roads. These groups will have different interests and a common enemy. Soon, animosities will spread amongst rebels. Their leaders, usually dangerous criminals, will legalise their business, which is terrorising or killing everybody who does not belong to their own group.

Many will die, pro or against Gaddafi – it makes no difference – they will die as civilians. Large portions of those waiting to die will be killed as a result of looting and revenge. After the civil war is over, paramilitary leaders will be eliminated (killed or sent to the Hague international criminal court) or simply given high diplomatic posts with immunity to prosecution. The gap between rich and poor will rise sharply.

At least there will be no more Gaddafi to tell people what to do. Or he will become invisible, he will abstract himself, recreate his image and become a corporation owned by unknown shareholders. Gaddafi in a similar way took billions from his people. Now, he will undergo a metamorphosis to reappear as multiple headed Dragon of Capitalism that will swallow this lucrative industry which Gaddafi built in the middle of a desert.

It is a dangerous desert. Before my own country was devastated by civil war, before I was arrested in Croatia for writing in an anti-war campaign magazine and illegally imprisoned, before I was evacuated, after the prison, to this promised land of peace and prosperity, I lived, like Libyans, in some form of socialism. I even believed that I was happy. Many years later, I will be constantly reminded by people who never lived in Yugoslavia that Tito was a dictator and my happiness, according to those people, was a form of ignorance.

Before it all happened, I lived in an industrial town in Central Bosnia where my parents worked in an iron factory. My mother worked in production while my father was an economist. Like many workers in Yugoslavia at the time, he was offered work in Libya but he rejected the offer. I remember that my uncle called my father a mad man for turning down an opportunity to make a fortune in a few years. Whoever returned from the Libyan desert, he argued, would be financially secure for the rest of his life, whether he was a plumber, track driver or intellectual.

The post was taken by my father's university friend. Only two weeks after his arrival in Libya, this same man was found dead in the desert, one of four victims, foreign workers in Libya, with his lungs full of sand. While going for a short walk with his fellow workers, he had lost his way when an minor desert storm hit the area. My uncle never mentioned Libya again while I learned a most valuable lesson; money and ambition can cost us more than we are prepared to pay for it.

The question is: will Sarkozy, or Cameron, or Hague sense any danger while going for a short walk in the Libyan desert? What if the sands of history are waiting to bury them in the same graveyard as Gaddafi? Most importantly, will they be wise enough to listen to the will of their own people when, in the near future, the people get to the streets and stay there until they get what they want – real democracy that can not be compromised?  Democracy which includes social justice for all!

24 March 2011

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