As I was writing, the Internet was flooded with reports of Gaddafi’s death. In the age of video-sharing websites and mobile phone cameras, we were also inundated with footage of Gaddafi’s last moments and of his lifeless corpse. I was immediately reminded of Saddam Hussein’s demise back in 2006. It seems the two tyrants do have one thing in common: they were both subjects of the modern day public execution; their final moments broadcast to millions across the world through mobile phone cameras and the Internet. However, the Arab public reaction to the two events has been very different. The indignation expressed at Saddam’s execution led to protests in several Arab cities and, rather ironically, to a public day of mourning being announced in Gaddafi’s Libya. Fast forward five years to Gaddafi’s demise, and yes there was much public indignation in the Arab world at the manner of his execution, but the dynamics were so different that whatever indignation was being expressed was likely to be fleeting and was ultimately overshadowed by the fact that Libya’s rebels enjoyed a considerable measure of admiration, sympathy and legitimacy in Arab public opinion (Gaddafi’s downfall led to only one demonstration, in Syria, and it called for Bashar al Assad to share the same fate as his deceased Libyan counterpart). The differing reactions to the downfall of the two tyrants are indicative of the broader reality: Libya is not another Iraq and Iraq will never be another Libya.

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