Foreign Policy Blogs

The Libyan Struggle

The Libyan Struggle

After Gaddafi Libya may not find what it is looking for. As I write this, the majority of pro-Gaddafi forces have lost, or are in the process of losing their resistance against the mostly civilian rebels. The pictures and stories coming from Libya are not incomparable to Egypt and/or Tunisia. Young men holding rifles in their hands; for many of them it is the first time ever to get caught in the crossfire or see dead bodies lying around. Even though Libyans believe that they are fighting for something as sacred and noble as their freedom, it may not turn out to be as they hope.

Now that Gaddafi is gone, we have a Libya with no civilian institutions; no self sufficiency in terms of rebuilding their own democratic institutions to assure the rest of the world that a new and functioning Libya will emerge on the ashes of Gaddafi regime. I think while weighing the pros and cons of civilian earned independence, past paths of non-Western democracies should not be forgotten. Iran, for example, still has not reach democracy and, in fact, has veered off from it due to misleading administrations since the Shah’s reign yielded to the Ayatollah.

After Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans will now face difficulties with incompetent state organizations and strong civil institutions. We will most likely see a U.N. or regional support group after a coalition government is founded, and next steps will follow rapidly or slowly such as the pace of rebuilding.

At the moment, different rebel groups are controlling different parts of the country and as news reports suggest, the checkpoints are already set up to control traffic in and out of Tripoli. These groups, after the transition period, could start having disputes among each other or may not willingly leave the territories to new government authorities. Similar to many other societies in the region, Libya is a country with many different tribes and usually the gap in governance creates the perfect setting for long lasting struggles. Of course, the humanitarian dimensions of this will be very hard to recover from.

What is next for Libya will lie simply in whoever will come out as the new authority. The main duties will be first and foremost, providing unity and safety, inscribing a new and fair constitution and setting up government and civil institutions. These will be twice as hard, considering the economic crisis of the globe at this point.

Change.change.change! It can be done over night or over decades, but key to change is while having the courage to pick up the gun and fight for your country, it also takes finding enough self-discipline to know where the excitement of gun shots end. If Libyans can start clean with humanitarian discussion and refuse to make room for tribal power battles and score settling, Libya can teach the world a lesson in ‘change’.