Gaddafi was fooling some of the people all of the time

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Col Mummar Gaddafi’s regime was facing the end as the opposition forces met unexpectedly light resistance to their entry into Tripoli. It seems he had been “fooling some of the people all of the time”.

Sunday [August 21st 2011] the news from Libya was of fierce fighting outside the capital Tripoli. By Monday morning local time, troops had advanced into Tripoli with only light resistance. An announcement was made that the Transitional National Council (TNC) would move within days to Tripoli to form a transitional government.

A Tipping Point?

President Obama was reported as describing the events as a tipping point for Gaddafi’s regime. The term was repeated by other commentators. Perhaps it was. But it shows how much easier it is to recognise a tipping point in hindsight than in advance.

Fooling some of the people …

The tipping point also showed how Gaddafi had created a belief that his support in Tripoli was deep-rooted. It fooled many people including all the commentaries I had read. It was a view even held by the advancing forces according to one of their spokesmen. On one hand, Gaddafi’s statements had become more violent and irrational. Yet on the other hand he preserved the one big myth, of the strong support for his regime in Tripoli.

‘Reading and testing” leadership messages

When a leader speaks, you will always have a chance to test their message. It is easy to dismiss a public speech as ‘just rhetoric’, or ‘only propaganda’. But taking such a bleak view blocks off any deeper reflection. The point always to be remembered is that the most convincing message contains a grain of truth. Most of us swallowed as truth the wrong grain. It was hard to believe his statement that he was successfully overcoming ‘NATO aggression’. But maybe, just maybe, the displays of public support were not entirely orchestrated…

Belief swings?

overnight there was a different sort of tipping point. The evidence before our eyes was that the oppositional forces had swept into Tripoli. Far from meeting whole-hearted resistance there appeared to be minimum support for the regime. Now the belief swung in the opposite direction. Gaddafi had no support whatsoever.
The tipping point (again in hindsight) was in the perceptions of ‘wide support’ to ‘no support’.

The fragile euphoria of liberation

Against a visible background on continuing fighting, one joyful young woman told the BBC that ‘100% of people now opposed Gaddafi’. Her joy was unfeigned. Within hours other realities became clearer. There is a fragile euphoria to a yearning for liberation.

What happened next

What happened next has been widely recorded, as President Obama’s tipping point did indeed have some predictive accuracy. For a while, ‘the fog of war’ further confused matters, as his son Saif al-Islam stood triumphantly outside the compound [Pictured above, Tuesday 23rd August] to demonstrate as false the rumours was of his own arrest. But within days the evidence was of a regime damaged beyond any immediate fight back. Gaddafi’s central fortress was quickly overwhelmed.

The next symbolic act

The next important symbolic act is considered to be the capture of Colonel Gaddafi. Until then, the information available remains in need of serious testing as the world remakes its maps of Libya’s future.

3 Responses to Gaddafi was fooling some of the people all of the time

  1. samer al salhi says:

    Gaddafi wasn’t fooling any body but himself ! This guy made himself a leader by force. Let’s be clear he was having no true support even before the event but all were forced to support him either because of his powerful tribe or by force “either to follow me or to be terminated”. This was true in Gaddafiperiod , Gaddafi was always disliked by other nations and most of the Arab leaders but the Lybian treasure which was between his hands spreading here and there was the only the for the Arabs to stay calm while he was in his position and the oil was the only thing made other foreign nations’ leader be always quiet about him because they all knew he could destroy them when he found others in need for , as Arabs we all were always thinking if his brain is in good health or not !

    Anyway, from leadership perspective , he made himself leader by force he made him self a symbol and believed in him self then when the opposition event took place he didn’t believe anybody can send him away from his position and when they did he believed every thing can go except the people around him in Tripoli then he believed he will never been cheated but again a leader who leads in force and money will never last and this is what really happen

  2. Thank you for this perspective. You put together a clear ‘map’ of your views.

    I still need an explanation of how unexpectedly weak was the opposition to the advancing forces into Tripoli. In this respect many people including foreign journalists embedded there were fooled.

    Among others, Prime Minister Tony Blair also seemed to have been fooled in his views on Gaddafi’s reactions to political pressure (See his memoirs).

  3. samer al salhi says:

    many thoughts by having Gaddafi in tripoli he will stay in a powerful position and could keep his troops under his control , the guy in his almost daily speech looked like he had a stable and strong control over his troops . this was only part of the iconic display he made for him self , the troops when noticed that the NATO is supporting the opposition troops and holds the money “of Gaddafi” realized the strong position of Gaddafi is getting weaker and weaker then realized that will not last for long and when opposition troops get closer to tripoli they noticed that changing their position is much better and the leader who kept on shouting enthusiastically was the 1st one to leave the battle field
    so he fooled them 1st and once his troops realized the truth they as well escaped.

    Meaning to say people were really fooled by Gadaffi , he was smart in this , by doing so he won some time and get every body believe he is in a storing position in tripoli , a kind of “Psychological warfare” so he can encourage the troops and threaten the foreign supports but this didn’t last as he expected ‘thanks to the sprite of opposition troops and their leaders who knew Gaddafi and knew he was fooling every one ‘ then only by strong determination the guy and his iconic leadership position – although fake – were destroyed

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