BEIRUT: Rival Lebanese leaders reacted Thursday with joy to the news of the death of Libya’s ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi, with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri warning that other tyrants in the region would face the same fate.
Gadhafi was killed Thursday by fighters who overran his hometown of Sirte and final bastion, putting an end to his controversial but despotic 42-year rule. His bloodied body was stripped and displayed around the world from a cellphone video.
Speaker Nabih Berri said in a terse statement: “God’s justice will come, sooner or later.”
Berri and the Higher Shiite Council have blamed Gadhafi for the mysterious disappearance of Shiite spiritual leader Imam Musa al-Sadr who went missing along with two companions during an official visit to Libya in August 1978. Sadr is the founder of the Amal Movement, now headed by Berri.
Hezbollah officials contacted by The Daily Star declined to comment on Gadhafi’s killing. Hariri hailed Gadhafi’s death but warned that other tyrants in the region would face the same fate.
“The end of Moammar Gadhafi is the inevitable end of all tyrants who are facing their people’s will for freedom and democracy with killing, repression and blood,” Hariri said in a statement released by his office.
“This fate is a clear lesson to the regimes that have adopted tyranny as a tool to rule their people,” he said.
“The Libyan people turned a dark page of their political history and achieved during the last few hours a new and advanced step toward the establishment of a democratic state, free from the chains of tyranny and repression,” Hariri said.
The fate of Gadhafi “puts an end to a long and bitter phase, which led Libya to ambiguous and suspicious roles and put the Libyan people in a sort of state of house arrest for decades,” he added.
Hariri said he hoped Gadhafi’s demise would lead to the establishment in Libya of “a new system dominated by the logic of justice, law and institutions, and based on the capabilities of the state to meet its people’s expectations.”
Referring to the seven-month-old popular uprising in Syria against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hariri said: “Any Arab citizen, watching the course of events in Libya, cannot but think of the popular revolutionary movement that is taking place in Syria. The Syrians, like any other Arab people, deserve to win freedom and democracy, after decades of repression.”
Hariri, who along with his March 14 allies have supported the pro-democracy protests in Syria, said: “We hope that the Syrian people will defeat the ‘repressive machine’ that targets its people. We also praise the great sacrifices of the Libyan people during the last months to free Libya from the domination of the Gadhafi regime over the last four decades. These sacrifices have finally led to the triumph of right over wrong, and the people’s will over tyrants.”
Hariri criticized the Lebanese government for failing to support anti-regime protesters in Syria. “Lebanon, which has long been an Arab pioneer of freedoms, democracy, and human rights in general, stands by all those who confront injustice, tyranny, killing and repression, especially in Syria, regardless of the fake positions adopted by its government regarding the will of the free peoples, which has proved in Libya today that it always prevails in the end.”
Nabatieh MP Yassin Jaber, from Berri’s Parliamentary bloc said: “The fate of every oppressor will be like the fate of tyrant Moammar Gadhafi. Gadhafi deserves to be punished by killing for the injustice he inflicted on Imam Musa Sadr and his two companions.”
Meanwhile, residents of the southern suburbs of Beirut reacted to Gadhafi’s killing with celebratory gunfire in Shiyah, a stronghold of the Amal Movement.
“We will tell you one thing only, everyone here is happy with the death of this tyrant,” said an owner of a coffee shop. Inside the coffee shop, huge posters for Sadr and Berri were on display, as a few clients watched Gadhafi’s demise on TV.
A woman who works in a carpet shop said Gadhafi’s death represented the end of “every oppressor.”
“During Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, we fled to Libya and I remember that Gadhafi executed lots of educated young Libyans during our stay there. This is the end of every oppressor,” said the woman, who refused to be identified.
A man, who also refused to be named, said that Gadhafi should have even faced the worst fate ever. “He has been holding the Imam [Sadr] for 33 years. Gadhafi’s fate reflects divine justice,” he said.
Ali Sharaf, who works in a shop in the southern suburb of Bir al-Abed, said he was congratulating his friends over Gadhafi’s demise.