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UN Warns Leaders Who Massacre Citizens 

By Francis Wache

The American Ambassador to the United Nations, UN, Susan Rice, referred to the sanctions against the tottering Muammar Gaddafi regime as “biting.” They are. The UN Security Council unanimously voted, on Saturday, Feb. 26, to slam severe sanctions against the ‘Butcher of Tripoli’.

According to those sanctions, Gaddafi’s foreign trips have been banned, his assets, as well as those of his family and cohorts, frozen and, worst still, he will face the International Criminal Court for the carnage he has wreaked on his own citizens. In this case, he will be tried for crimes against humanity.

In order to cling to power, Muammar Gaddafi has unleashed the most barbarous acts of violence against his people. As the swirling waters hurl him downstream, Gaddafi’s tactics have become more gruesome. Besides arming his supporters with guns, he has recruited hordes of desperate and ruthless mercenaries to mow down those protesting against his over four-decade reign. Because of the horrendous atrocities and the mayhem in the streets of Tripoli, in particular, and other Libyan cities in general, the UN decided to intervene and, possibly, stem the haemorrhage.

Although the sanctions are directed at Gaddafi, there is a thinly veiled insinuation that Gaddafi’s ilk will be meted similar measures. Before the Security Council vote, US President Barack Obama had been more forthright. Discarding all diplomatic decorum, he had stated, unequivocally, that: "When a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now."

Gaddafi has not left. Instead, he has blamed the uprising in his country on Al Qaeda and drugged youths. The reference to Al Qaeda was an awkward attempt to use the terrorism ‘bogey’ and thwart the wrath of the Western world which suffers from a visceral loathing of Osama Bin Laden.

Gaddafi, it is common knowledge, has, throughout the years, sponsored insurrections, bankrolled coups and funded terrorist attacks. In fact, Ronald Reagan called him “mad dog.” For him to turn round now and blame Al Qaeda for his woes is preposterous. It is also a pitiable admission for the Guide to ascertain that his citizens are under the influence of drugs. Even if there were an iota of truth in that accusation, Gaddafi, himself, must answer why the youths chose that path.

First, by banning foreign trips, the UN has given Gaddafi, his immediate family and acolytes, pariah status. This is a sobering sanction because dictators are, invariably, peripatetic – they cherish roaming the world with their praise singers, squandering State funds on lavish lifestyles. They are deprived of such escapades now.

By also freezing their assets, this measure serves as warning to those who stash staggering sums in foreign financial havens, that, when the bell for their departure inexorably tolls, they will wallow in abject poverty because all that ill-gotten loot will not be available. Thus, apart from becoming homeless wanderers, they will also become penniless paupers. The aspect of the sanctions that deals with an embargo on arms is also telling. Sooner more than later, Gaddafi will run out of arms and if he can no longer procure some, that would spell the end of his now beleaguered regime.

Other dictators intending to use arms against unarmed protesters must learn the lesson that arms, usually bought to provide security for citizens and protection against foreign invasions, should never be turned against those who provide the money for the purchase of these arms in the first place. Crippling as these sanctions may sound, Gaddafi remains seemingly undeterred. Indeed, his son, Saif al- Islam Gaddafi, is more trenchant in his reactions. He said, in a belligerent tone, that he and his father have a duty to keep Libya one.

Another corollary lesson from the Libya rebellion is that, when the tables turn, self-seeking erstwhile lackeys become obsessed with their self-survival by deserting the autocrat and joining the ranks of the protesting people. That is why, former linchpins of the Gaddafi regime, including Ministers, Ambassadors, senior military officers and security top brass who, only yesterday, sang panegyrics to the Guide are now scampering in their droves to be on the side of the winning people.

It is Chinua Achebe, the renowned Nigerian writer, who said that no man, no matter how powerful, ever wins a battle against his people. The money-hoarding Ben Ali of Tunisia, the bellicose Mubarak of Egypt and the inflexible Gaddafi of Libya have all succumbed to that Achebean proverb.

Finally, Gaddafi has learnt – and his peers will learn – that, while the going is good, Western powers will pamper and even coddle dictators for their interests (resources, defence military bases, fight against their enemies etc.) but the moment the chips are down, they vamoose..

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