Because there’s a war waging outside and I have way too much free time on my hands that I’m squandering away on naps, I figured I’d write out a general response to the usual debates (read: angry Facebook comment wars). It’s kind of tiresome to just continuously repeat the same points over and over again, so I’ll compile them here.
Disclaimer: I am not a neutral observer of the events in Libya, if that hasn’t been screamingly obvious yet. I am biased and completely support the army. This is a post written for fun, a chance for me to blow off steam. If you are an Ansar supporter with a bug up your butt, don’t bother past this point.
Point 1) How do you know Ansar are behind all the bad things in Benghazi?
Well, let’s see. The overwhelming majority of assassination victims have been army members (whom Ansar have openly stated are their enemy and have fought with previously) and activists/journalists (who have been openly critical of Ansar Shariah and militia groups).
Then there’s the fact that Ansar have not denied that they are behind the assassinations. I mean, you’d think, with half the country pointing fingers at you, making a statement denying the allegations would be prudent. It’s also not helpful if you go around declaring that democracy is haram.
But clearly the answer you’re looking for here is THIS IS ALL HEFTAR’S FAULT. Which brings us to:
Point 2) Heftar is equally as bad as Ansar Shariah
You see, the term ‘equal’ actually means ‘of the same value’. Ansar Shariah has been wreaking havoc on Benghazi for years. Heftar showed up six months ago. Two years ≠ Six months. Point being that, most of the time, this war has been one-sided, with Ansar attacking the army with impunity. Applying a false equivalence to the two groups is deceptive and incorrect.
There’s also the fact that Heftar hasn’t assassinated over 500 people in cold blood, hasn’t blown up police stations, doesn’t have ties to other terrorist groups, etc. etc.
There’s this thing called cause and effect. Ansar Shariah = Cause. Heftar = Effect. If they hadn’t started their bloody campaign, there wouldn’t have been any need for Op. Karama.
Point 3) Heftar has the help of foreign forces
Yes, and he hasn’t denied it. But there’s a difference between bringing in troops on the ground and getting logistic help.
And if we’re gonna start being nit-picky over the use of foreign forces, did the National Transitional Council have any right to involve NATO during the Libyan revolution? I mean, they’re also foreign forces, right?
Oh, but we liked those foreign forces, even though they also bombed cities and killed Libyans. The point then was to ultimately protect civilians, and the point now is to ultimately protect civilians.
Point 4) There’s a difference between Ansar Shariah and the ‘thuwar’ (militias). I am against the former but support the latter.
Except, what the hell do you think The Revolutionary’s Shura Council is exactly? Ansar Shariah + Libyan Shield + Rafallah Sahati + February 17 Brigade. By grouping themselves with a terrorist organization, the ‘thuwar’ (whose role prior to this was tainted already with shooting at protesters) have basically said that they don’t mind working with throat-slitting maniacs, as long as it keeps them in power.
Point 5) They want to implement Islamic Law! Why do you hate Islam?
Oh, you mean like how they implemented “Islamic Law” in Derna? A group of unwashed, scruffy, ignorant men who can’t even talk properly, holding an entire city hostage and threatening anyone who opposes them with murder, is Islamic? Sorry but you’re reading the wrong book.
And you’re making the assumption that Libya isn’t an Islamic society. Did all the strip clubs and widely available booze confuse you? A Muslim society gets to choose, through consensus, how their region functions, with leaders they voluntarily approve of. Almost like some kind of majority-rule system with representatives and laws and stuff. If only something like that existed.
Point 6) People aligned with Operation Dignity have destroyed people’s homes
Yes, and that is appalling. People’s homes should not be destroyed, even if there’s a valid reason for searching them. No one wants a country built on revenge and retribution attacks.
Did you check out the hashtag #لا_للإنتقام (No To Revenge), where pro-army Libyans expressed their disdain at revenge attacks and urged people not to resort to them? Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen a #لا_للذبح hashtag yet by Ansar supporters.
Point 7) Civil society is to blame because they protested against militias on ‘Save Benghazi Friday’
Yeah, you’re right; we should have just quietly accept a group of armed lawless thugs controlling our city, lest our complaints send them on a murder spree. (This point is so filled with stupidity it makes my head hurt.)
Point 8) Is plunging the entire city into a war the solution to this problem?
If you have an alternative solution, I am all ears. Until then, asking people to tolerate assassinations, kidnappings and explosions, until an ideal solution magically presents itself, is going to get you ignored.
Conclusion: We can (and should) be debating things like introducing army reforms, or the importance of transparent and accountable government institutes, how to collect the weapons that are in the hands of criminal gangs, etc. Better yet, we should be working within civil society to try and enact these changes.
Instead, we’re debating whether it’s legal to fight against terrorist groups and the legitimacy of the Libyan army. It’s almost four years after the revolution and we’re still in a transitional period with no end in sight. We cannot perpetually live in a state of political and military revolution. We need to start being a proper country.