• Libya's Lawrence

      Erica laughed when she told me about the Jon Stewart "Geraldo of Arabia" parody that he aired last week following my coverage of the fighting in Libya. "He doesn't know how much you'd love that!" She was right. I had just landed at JFK from Cairo and was soon pleasantly surprised that the normally snarky Stewart was respectful in his jokes. But I'm no Lawrence. Having read Michael Korda's current biography of legendary T.E. Lawrence, hero god of the Arab revolt, architect of modern Arab political geography, masochist and raconteur, and having this morning re-watched David Lean's spectacular movie for the 80th time, Lawrence was far more ambitious.

      It is not that I would lead the Libyan revolt. I just know that this one is badly managed.

      Despite the growing list of countries that recognize it, the rebel's government, the Transitional National Council is as messy and insecure as its name. Personalities suddenly rise to the top, incumbents, including the recent commander-in-chief of what passes for the rebel army is summarily banished. It seems disorganized, disunited, and standing on sand more shifty than the Libyan Sahara.

      There is the transitory ‘head' of the transitory council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil a former Supreme Court judge and former official in Libya's justice system. Mr. Abdul Jalil is a polite tiny elderly man. He speaks no English and has a forehead callous, which is a prestigious symbol of piety. "He has a very personal connection with God," was the way a friend explained it. That maybe, but it is not likely to match Gaddafi's ebullience in the battle for hearts and minds in Africa.

      Three points:

      1-The Leader Brother has fellow Africans from Mali to South Africa to Algeria eating out of his hands. The AU is soon going to switch to Gaddafi's corner. The current rebel government's intransigence regarding Gaddafi's necessary exile will hasten the process of defection

      2- As he buys off those African neighbors, they will work to rehabilitate Gaddafi's status.

      3- The courage and success of its military was the rebels' best last hope for success, and they can't fight.

      It is what we dreaded, an impasse. Where is Libya's Lawrence?

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      Middle East