July 15, 2024

Gadhafi Dead – Now Libyans Can Get On With The Business Of Killing Each Other

One by one, nearly every country in the  Middle East has seen violent uprising by citizens eager to overthrow the existing government.  Many Americans, driven perhaps by nostalgic thoughts about America’s own birth from violent revolution, have concluded that something beneficent was happening in the Libyan uprising.

Gadhafi is dead and Libyans are celebrating, but now comes the hard part.  Attempting to establish democratic rule in a country that long suppressed individual freedoms will not be easy, given age old conflicts and disputes between the numerous feudal tribes that rule Libya.

Will  Libya suddenly become an orderly, lawful and harmonious society now that Gadhafi is gone?  Or will Libya descend into chaos, anarchy and civil war which will bring forth perhaps an even more oppressive government ruled by Islamic fundamentalists?  The example of Egypt, for which so many had high hopes, suggests that Libya may also have a dark future.

Gadhafi In Better Times - courtesy navytimes.com

Gadhafi In Better Times - courtesy navytimes.com

Some thoughts from USA Today

“I’m afraid the opposition is going to start fighting among themselves now,” said Michael Rubin, a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School and a former adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. “I’m afraid it’s going to be a far bloodier period in Libya.”

Libya has no experience with democracy, it is awash in arms and independent militias, and it is divided by geography and tribes. Islamic fundamentalists also pose a threat, and the new government could face resistance from Gadhafi loyalists who go underground.

“There is no unity, no consensus right now on what the future model of government in Libya should look like,” said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.

Conflict within the Libyan opposition already has begun, said Mansour El-Kikhia, a Libyan-born professor of politics at University of Texas at San Antonio who advised members of the Transitional National Council until about six weeks ago.

“It’s going to be very painful to come to terms with the vacuum Gadhafi has left,” El-Kikhia said. “The struggle for power will lead to the demise of the state. From what I’ve seen in the last month or so, I’m scared.”

Gadhafi had been a check on Islamic extremists in the region, and now those extremists are collecting the weapons Gadhafi stashed across the country.

“I don’t see anything resembling reconciliation right now,” Gelb said. “It is inevitable there will be more bloodshed.”

Democracy may be a noble tradition in the minds of Western scholars and politicians, but for Libya it is probably the most unworkable and destabilizing form of government possible.

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