The PJ Tatler

All Democrats? A report from Libya

Gabriele Riedle is a reporter for the German magazine GEO who was on assignment in Libya when the anti-Gaddafi protests broke out last week. She returned to Germany on Friday. Asked by Die Berliner Zeitung, a German daily, what the protesters are after, Riedle responded:

Not democracy, in any case. It is about power struggle, accounts to be settled, revenge. I did not meet a single person who spoke about democracy….The protests have developed their own dynamic. It has nothing to do with political will. Someone opens fire, then there is rage and mourning, then there is more shooting – and the situation escalates. Now there are demands that Gaddafi has to go. Well, of course: he is the one that sent in the army. What is interesting is our reflexive reaction: protests are good and they lead to democracy. But this is nothing more than CNN-style wishful thinking.

Among other sources of the anti-Gaddafi movement, Riedle mentions the fundamentalist Islamic Fighting Force and “war-like tribes in the east of the country who consider Gaddafi a jerk, because they consider anybody a jerk who has power over them.”