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Latest update : 2011-08-23

"Tyrant" or "vanguard against colonialism"?

As events unfolded in Libya, the press review turned to Twitter. One rebel supporter expresses a sense of euphoria that those abroad can now go home, another says it will be hard to consolidate real freedom. And in the Arab-language press, one paper's tyrant is another's vanguard against western colonialism. Libya is the focus for this press review, Monday 22nd August, 2011.

Libyans are on the verge of a new era. Rebel supporters have tweeted in celebration. The Libya Youth Movement “Shabab Libya” says: “The date for the Liberation of Tripoli was chosen as it was the date when the Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims liberated Mecca peacefully”. That, in fact, is the 20th day of Ramadan, which this year was August the 20th, a Saturday and when Libya’s rebels first entered the capital. Another tweet, by “avinunu”, says the “people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya will need to struggle as one to rid the region of imperial control and consolidate real freedom. A long road”. Another says “few things are as touching and inspiring as hearing someone say, all smiles, that our status as refugees has ended and we're going home”.

In the print media, the Saudi daily based in London, Asharq Al-Awsat, looks at the post-Gaddafi era and what it calls the end of a tyrant. It argues the Libyan leader’s fall will change the Arab-speaking world and re-shape the international community’s attitude towards dictatorships, including Yemen and Syria. It says events could stir world powers to beef up pressure on Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh and Syria's Bashar Al Assad.

The pro-Syrian Lebanese paper As Safir sees events in Tripoli as nothing more than western colonialism. It raises the prospect of an Iraq-style scenario of continued violence and civil war.

The Washington Post says that Gaddafi’s rule is crumbling, quoting a statement by NATO. It also quotes a US official saying Gaddafi isn’t sure of what he is going to do from one moment to the next.

In a piece entitled “Gaddafi appears to be on his way out", one of the Post’s opinion writers, David Ignatius, says that Gaddafi’s family has transferred large sums of money to Algeria in the last five days. He says that a western intelligence source indicates the Gaddafi family (including his three sons) is in Tunisia, “perhaps on the way to exile in Algeria”.

The Guardian has an article from Zlitan in Libya with the headline “rebel advances mask uncertainty over Libya’s future”. The paper says the National Transitional Council may have the backing of 32 countries but will struggle to bring cohesion after Gaddafi’s demise. The Guardian editorial hammers that home by saying: “how and when the regime ends has become less important than the questions of who and what a new era may bring”. It warns that the spectre of Iraq lurks in the background.

And here in France, Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui-en-France has an interview with Pascal Boniface, the director of the International and Strategic Relations Institute who says the post-Gaddafi era will be marked by the fact that it came about with the help of foreign intervention. Boniface says he does not see an Islamist threat with the changes currently underway.
 

By Nicholas RUSHWORTH

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