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China Daily Website

Lessons of Libya

Updated: 2012-10-22 07:49
( China Daily)

One year ago, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels backed by the United States and its allies. This regime change by force was hailed by the West as a landmark event ushering in democracy to the North African country.

But one year on, Libya has yet to embrace real peace, and a functional new government is still to be established, as it is proving difficult to balance the interests of the different factions and regions in the country.

So people cannot help but ask: Is Western-style democracy working on Arab soil?

The answer is no.

The fall of Gaddafi was the result of direct military interference by the US-led West, which claimed to have the backing of the United Nations.

Has the US strategy in the Middle East achieved its purposes?

The answer again is no.

Instead of fostering pro-US forces in the region, it has only sown the seeds of misunderstanding and aroused even more anti-US sentiment in the Muslim world. The deadly assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month provides ready proof of this.

The attack resulted in the death of four Americans, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. The incident clearly shows the failure of the US' Middle East policy and the deep divide that exists between the US and Muslim world.

In fact, the US strategy in the Middle East since the Arab uprisings in 2010 has been under fire even on its own soil. Yet, it continues to brew in US politics and has cast a long shadow over the upcoming US presidential election.

Although US President Barack Obama suggested during the Hofstra debate with Republican candidate Mitt Romney that he knew the attack was terrorism, his administration was continuing to characterize it as a spontaneous protest to an anti-Islam video.

Presumably in the third US presidential debate scheduled for Monday night, Romney will not pass up the opportunity to hammer Obama on the issue again.

But both candidates owe it, not only to their own countrymen, but also to people in Libya and the region at large, to reflect on why the US has failed so far to deliver all its promises in the Middle East.

And if they are considering the question: Is Libya-style regime change applicable to other countries in the region, say, Syria, which is also ruled by a strongman the West dislikes?

The answer is no.