Content from the Brookings Doha Center is now archived. In September 2021, after 14 years of impactful partnership, Brookings and the Brookings Doha Center announced that they were ending their affiliation. The Brookings Doha Center is now the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, a separate public policy institution based in Qatar.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Ibrahim Sharqieh comments on the outlook for the revolution in Libya. Sharqieh discusses the actions of Muammar Qaddafi and his son, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, and their meaning for the outcome of the uprising.
IBRAHIM SHARQIEH: It really doesn’t surprise me to hear what we are hearing from Qaddafi because he has been consistent in being completely detached from reality. That is the behavior that he has shown over the past two decades.
The biggest disappointment is really coming from [Qaddafi’s son], Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, who, first of all, is a graduate of the London School of Economics – his thesis is on how to bring democracy and improve governments. He also started the “Libya Tomorrow” initiative three years ago and many bought into his argument, including the Muslim Brotherhood. It is really a disappointment for him to be consistent with his father and the claims he is making.
The situation is very alarming and very dangerous. I was really hoping [Saif al-Islam] Qaddafi would pressure his father to provide this bridge, this link, between what is happening with the government and his father. Unfortunately, he is playing a very harmful role at this point. His has connections with the Special Forces, although he doesn’t occupy a formal position. But he has connections with the forces and with the regime. And he has a family impact. We need to keep in mind, if something were to come out of this revolution, one helpful area is actually through family pressure. Family impact on Qaddafi. I was really hoping Saif al-Islam would play this role, as he is the one who is groomed to take his father’s position. Unfortunately, the path he has chosen is the opposite.
We need to consider Tripoli. I think it is going to take some time [for Tripoli] to fall because the path that Qaddafi and his son have chosen is a path of defiance and resistance. We started talking today about some scenarios to end this crisis. The ones that came up were mostly about Qaddafi committing suicide, being killed or disappearing. Nothing came up in our discussions about him leaving the country or surrendering. All these scenarios are really frightening. They all indicate that he will resist, he will continue to fight. However, I remain hopeful that we will be pleasantly surprised in seeing something come out of this, and the revolution will be successful.