The Libyan revolution, less than a month old, is posing a serious question for the U.S. and it’s allies: Who is in charge, and what do the rebels want to achieve? Getting rid of Col. Gadhafi is a good first step, but what then? Secondly, why are we there? In a middle east fresh with conflict from Egypt to Bahrain, remind me again why we are engaged in another military operation in the middle east and why is it Libya?
In the Benghazi courthouse, the rebel headquarters in Libya, a group of Islamist work together with secular intellectuals, tribal chiefs, youth campaigners, defectors from Gadhafi’s regime and a host of marginal revolutionaries some who have fought America in Iraq, all united under their hatred banner of Gadhafi.
“Everything is still fresh. What we want is democracy, and once we have parties, everyone could express themselves,” says Salwa Bugaigis, a lawyer and a rebel spokeswoman. As for the uprising’s Islamist component, she adds, “As you can see, I’m unveiled, I’m modern, and they respect me.
The revolutionaries’ slogan is “freedom,” not an Islamic State. For its banner it has adopted the red, black and green flag of the pro-American Libyan State that Col. Gadhafi overthrew in 1969. The bearded face of Omar Mukhtar, the hero of Libya’s 1930s struggle against Italian colonialism, beams from thousands of Benghazi cars and storefronts along with his slogan “We shall win or we shall die.”
“When America occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, it spread corruption and killed innocents,” said Rafat Bakar, a thick-bearded revolutionary activist in the city of Baida. “A Western intervention in Libya would help us get rid of the tyrant and of injustice.”