Walking with the ghost of Gaddafi

Published 05.06.2015 23:55
Updated 06.06.2015 00:05

It's my third day in Tripoli, Libya. The last round of U.N.-sponsored Libya peace talks kicked off Wednesday. While analysts who know everything about Libya even though they have never visited the country do not give a big chance to the peace talks, alleging that Libya is already divided, the streets of the capital do not share the same idea. This week, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) beheaded an alleged loyalist to Tobruk in Derna in front of a group of children. All news related to Libya was about the brutal killing as a top story while it barely takes place on the agenda of the people of Tripoli. As a matter of fact, many were informed about the issue when I asked for their opinion of it.

Of course, ISIS is a fear factor for them, but the majority think that the notorious group is just another fabricated tool implemented to manipulate public opinion in the fight over power, and of course, money. While I am now sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for my ride and watching an Arabic news channel reporting the latest news on the upcoming elections in Turkey with the rest of the guests and the hotel staff, I can see that most of the stories pumped as horror stories by the media outlets dominating the international media are always misleading and frequently false. Ahmad, the bellboy of the hotel, says, "I stopped worrying about the reports that are not telling the truth about my country a long time ago." He reminded me of the others I had a chance to talk with over the last two days.

"I believe you had doubts about security when you decided to come to Libya. But as you see, it is now safe and calm here. We are out on the streets, going to school, to work, to market and coffee shops. We are attending wedding ceremonies at night," said Zainab, a student at the University of Tripoli, in a gathering for Children and Peace at the garden of King Idriss's Palace. She was right. Tripoli was depicted as a horrible place, especially for women, in news reports, but what I have seen was different. Hassan, a marine that I met during the fifth gathering of the Libyan Army Officers at the navy base at the port of Tripoli, asked me: "Who were those soldiers and lieutenants and generals you saw if the whole army of Libya sides with Khalifa Haftar?" I have to hand it to him - I never thought that I would see quite a number of soldiers and a regular army in Tripoli after all the things I have read.

Indeed, quite a lot of Libyans do not think that what is currently happening in Libya is about two rival parties who fought together against Muammar Gaddafi and later became enemies. They do not buy the stories alleging that it is the morning of a civil war that will eventually divide the country. They laugh at the claims of a war of Islam against Islam. In the eyes of the common people in Tripoli, the fight for power and the battle over authority is not between the groups who have different ideologies about the system and the constitution, but between the people and the members of the old regime. According to them, the ones who ruled the country together with Gaddafi are still fighting to come back, spreading false stories and manipulating the public.

Actually, I almost forgot about Gaddafi, the dictator who ruled Libya for more than four decades, thanks to the media reports. But since the moment I stepped into Libya, I realized that the revolution has not yet finished. Contrary to the perspective served by giant news agencies and news media outlets, it is still about freedom and getting rid of the old regime that is giving its last shot and trying its best to resurrect itself. Walking on the streets of Tripoli past walls decorated with the graffiti making fun of Gaddafi and past hundreds of billboards commemorating those who died at the points that Gaddafi's forces killed them, I see that it is the ghost of Gaddafi still walking throughout Libya, and his ambitious servants who do not accept to give up authority to the people of this lovely country.

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