tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who will be Qaddafi II?

"Constitutions cannot be considered the law of society. A constitution is fundamentally a man-made positive law, and lacks the natural source from which it must derive its justification."
- Col. Moammar al-Qaddafi, from his Green Book (full English translation here), 1975.

"Libya will have a constitution, democracy, elections, like any other country."
- Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, son and would-be successor of the Colonel, 2008.

"[No comment]"
- Moatessem al-Qaddafi, other son and would-be successor to the Colonel.

Qaddafi the elder, "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution," isn't getting any younger. (In fact he's developing that waxy veneer that a lot of Middle Eastern autocrats seem to grow in their old age: Hosni Mubarak, Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, King Abdullah, Benjamin Netanyahu.)

This posting from Bitter Lemons speculates on who will succeed the Colonel, focusing on 2 of his sons: Saif al-Islam, a reform-minded populist who's apparently well-liked in Western Europe; and Moatessem Billah, a quiet, toe-the-line man who's reportedly a favourite of Libya's power-broking military brass and the rijal al-khaymah - "men of the tent" - the tight circle of influential advisers around Qaddafi.

So will we see a power struggle in Libya when the Brotherly Leader passes on? Will Qaddafi the elder name a successor to his throne before he's gone?

Not too long ago, when Qaddafi was making nice with the West - paying out gobs of money to victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism, cleaning out his WMD closet, etc - his son Saif was gaining a high profile in Europe carrying out his father's overtures for reconciliation.

But lately the mercurial Moammar has been hanging out in Russia and its former satellites, playing arms dealers off one another in order to get the best deal. And Moatessem has been right by his daddy's side.

Neither son could seize power easily or peacefully without a succession plan. Yet Qaddafi, even after all these years in power - he's the longest-serving head of government in the world - still seems more concerned about his wardrobe than his next of kin. It'll be hard for Qaddafi's death to be more intriguing than his life; maybe his reluctance to name a Crown Prince is his way of spicing up his future funeral. A war of desert roses?

No comments: