Muammar Qaddafi, who was killed by Libyan rebels on Thursday 20 October after 42 years ruling the country as a despot, had more than $200 billion stashed in bank accounts, investments, and property around the world, or about $30,000 for every child, woman, and man in Libya.
That is the latest estimate, from the Los Angeles Times (21 October).
The death of Qaddafi, in Sirte, led the National Transitional Council to declare final victory in the war which has raged in Libya since protests began there on 15 February, inspired by the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt.
On 22 October, the general secretary of NATO announced that its air campaign in support of the rebels will wind down and close completely on 31 October.
Lindsey German of the Stop The War Coalition, quoted approvingly by the Morning Star, saw “little reason for triumphalism” about the death of the despot. Like many on the left, STW and the Morning Star allowed their concern to strike a pose against NATO to drown any sympathy they had for the Libyan people.
Socialist Worker was a bit better, noting that “the fall of Qaddafi was welcomed across the Arab revolutions, with celebrations in Yemen, Egypt and Syria”.
Rightly so. Qaddafi’s dictatorship crushed all political organisation in Libya, and that makes the Libyan revolution vulnerable to confiscation by conservative forces such as Islamists. The fall of Qaddafi is only the start of a fight for democracy and workers’ rights in the country.
But it is also a boost to people fighting dictatorship in Syria and Yemen.
Libyan women oppose Sharia
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, chair of Libya’s National Transitional Council, has declared that after the fall of the Qaddafi dictatorship the country will now be governed by Islamic Sharia law.
Without any consultation or democratic decision, he announced on 23 October that current laws restricting (though not banning) polygamy will be scrapped, and that banks will be banned from charging interest.
According to Associated Press, “already several attacks have occurred on shrines in and around Tripoli belonging to Muslim sects [presumably Sufi] whose practices are seen as sacrilegious”.
Azza Magrur, a Libyan woman lawyer, riposted: “Whatever we gained in the past era we should not give it up. We don’t want what happened in Iraq... There, women lost a lot. We should try for more".
Alaa Murabit of the Voice of Libyan Women said: “Women started this revolution. And suddenly they were now limited to wives, mothers, and sisters... I was extremely upset by this”.
The overthrow of Qaddafi means that Libya’s women, workers, and democrats have space to fight for rights.
Abdul-Jalil's statement indicates that they have a formidable fight on their hands, and need our solidarity.