By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
20 February 2013
Many bad rulers have existed in the world throughout history, and these days the world is marking the second anniversary of the uprising against one of the worst leaders, Muammar Qaddafi, who left behind a trail of destruction not only in Libya, but also around the world.
His memory must teach the international community an important lesson that bad leaders do not cause damage only to their countries, but are also the source of harm to the whole world. There was Saddam Hussein, who was responsible for many catastrophes, and now there is Syrian President Bashar Assad in our midst, not forgetting the regime in Tehran that has squandered its country’s fortunes and ruined everything following the Iranian Revolution.
Now the region is made up of new regimes battling internal forces, and it is natural to worry about their inclinations, the type of institutions they would build, and ideals they would endorse and encourage. So the question is: Whether a new “Qaddafi” would succeed the old one, and whether Syria will be managed by a group or led by a president just as Assad’s father and then his son? The same question can be asked about the future of Iran, which is destined to be in a similar situation in the next few years.
All these regimes were responsible for two horrible outcomes: Impoverishing their countries, sabotaging the region and threatening the rest of the world.
For 40 years, Qaddafi funded chaos everywhere, and his evil even reached places as far as the Philippines, Ireland, Italy and Spain. He also caused the destruction of the state of Chad when he tried to overthrow the country’s regime. He was behind the chaos in western and southern Sudan for decades, and financed the rebellion with money and weapons. He funded some parties in the civil war in Lebanon. In the last 10 years he also funded Yemeni Houthis and Yemeni tribal forces against Saudi Arabia, while leaving Libya a desolate country without development and no hope for its people in the future.
This is what Saddam did on a smaller scale. He increased the size of his army and security forces, and dragged his country in a war for 10 years with its neighbour Iran, and later with Kuwait.
The elder Assad had engaged Lebanon in conflicts throughout his reign as president. He financed and trained armed groups against Turkey, Iraq and the Gulf. And following in his footsteps, his son Bashar got close to Iran and has been a contractor for terrorism and sectarian wars in Iraq for the past 10 years in order to control the country, as he did it in Lebanon.
All three exchanged roles in the destruction of the Palestinian cause and the division in Palestinian ranks. They hired armed groups, led by the likes of Abu Nidal and Ahmed Jibril in the name of Palestine, consequently destroying the Palestinian cause and leading the Arab world toward ruin.
Now hardened vandals are gone, and Assad is about to leave no matter how long the battle continues. The Arab world is changing, and we do not know when and how it will end, but we hope the Libyans do not inherit another Qaddafi, nor the Iraqis a new Saddam although current manifestations of power indicate so, and that Syria does not give birth to another brutal regime like that of Assad.
The democratic system, which these new states say they want to adopt on the basis of what the people want. Now, if we ask the Libyans, Iraqis or Syrians, we will find that the majority of them would not like the return of those bad years, neither would the international community. That is why it’s everyone’s responsibility to push the communities, which have revolted against their unjust regimes toward civilian rule that believes in political participation and responds to the aspirations of its citizens.
Saddam, Qaddafi and Assad — besides their inclination toward evil and megalomania — also adopted the policy of external sabotage to distract their countrymen by inventing enemies outside their borders. Building institutions that respect the desire of the people will not be easy, and here comes the role of the international community in taking the initiative to assist these rebelling communities in the transition, instead of just watching from a distance.
Systems that respect their citizens and respect international laws are in the interests of the entire world. The elimination of Hitler’s regime in 1945 halted his crimes, but more importantly, victors insisted on building democratic institutions in Germany and Japan, and achieved peace and prosperity in the European continent and the rest of the world. Therefore bringing down bad regimes will not be enough to prevent a repeat of the unfortunate last 40 years, but more importantly to help the communities to build support systems, which comply with the law internally and externally, replicating the European experience with its various dimensions.