A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, February 14, 2014

Libya: What if they Gave a Coup and Nobody Came?

There are sincere people who disagree about whether or not what happened in Egypt July 3 was a coup or not, but I think most people would agree that the mouse-that-roared "coup" in Libya today was definitely not a coup.

Major General Khalifa Haftar (also Hifter), a former general under Qadhafi who may or may not have been influential in his overthrow and may or may not be retired, posted a video online in which he "announced" that "The national command of the Libyan Army is declaring a movement for a new road map." (These days, it's always a road map.) He announced the suspension of Parliament.

Then the Prime Minister called it "ridiculous," the Army denied it and stayed in its barracks, and Parliament kept on functioning. The New York Times account here;  and the Reuters version here.

Now no one doubts tensions are high in Libya and people are a bit jittery, but you see, General, as influential as YouTube is, you still can't overthrow a government with a YouTube video. You still need to seize the radio and TV stations and maybe the airport, and for that a few actual troops and maybe some tanks in the street are pretty much necessary.

This Al-Arabiya shot is making the media rounds; "Haftar announces an inqilab"; in Arabic, inqilab means "coup," but its literal meaning is "turning over":

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