As the battle for Tripoli continues to rage, the liberation embodied by the rebels are now talking about the end of an era, but what is in the future for the next Libyan era?
With a price on Qaddafi’s head, with both NATO and the TNC on the hunt, the 42-year-old dictatorship seems to be coming to an end, but with the power being shifted to the people, questions about the future are on the rise. In post-Saddam Iraq, a country in which the soil did feel the stomp of American troops, the withdrawal of troops led to chaos and the continual presence of violence and terrorism. Libya, a country now devoid of any form of government and without any direct involvement of foreign troops, actions must be taken to break a resembling spiral of anarchy. The TNC, the Transitional National Council, has been recognized as the legitimate governing authority of Libya, but the council established as the real governing body has been dismissed after the unsolved death of General Younis in July. The current head of the TNC, Mustafa Mohamed Abdul Jalil, has stated that the TNC will only remain as a source to establish stability for 8 months after the fall of Qaddafi and once disbanded, the people of Libya will vote for a governing council.
“The Gadhafi regime is coming to an end, explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight, to lay down their arms.” – President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States.
The plan laid out by the TNC is much more easily said than put into practice, as always. With the division of rebels exacerbated by the assassination of General Younis, the long-held distrust over potential power sharing roles is once again threatening to rip the loose coalition of rebel factions apart. As the guns fire high into the sky in celebration,it is only a matter of time till the sky-high shots begin to level and take aim at rivals for control of post-Qaddafi Libya. The rifts of the rebel factions are clearly seen by those who defected from the dictator’s regime and those who had never been integrated into it. Moreover, Jalil is viewed as the only true voice of a free Libya to both citizens of Libya and the international community, but it is not a view that rebels from Misrata and of the Nafusa Mountains have taken to heart. Misrata rebels criticize the ineffectiveness and disorganization of the TNC. The main reason for this dissent is that the rebels from these two regions were effectively the only fighters in charge of the push into Tripoli from Zawiya, Garyan and Zlitan.
“Restoring public order without resorting to indiscriminate force and falling prey to temptation of revenge against Gadhafi loyalists will be a huge challenge” – Thorsten Benner, security expert at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin.
The TNC does appear to have made plans for the short-term at the least; making sure that public utilities and services remain online once control is gained. The TNC has also reveled a blueprint for a 20-month transition to democracy. This blueprint calls for the relocation of rebel leadership from its current stronghold in Benghazi to Tripoli within 30 days of the capitol’s complete capture, as well as holding elections for a 200-member interim national congress within 8 months of claiming control. Of course, questions do arise about which executive will oversee the fulfillment of these plans. This brings into view the fears of the international community of a possible power vacuum in the new Libya.
NATO is fearful of being pushed into taking sides in the possible internal conflict of Libya, as it was forced to do in Afghanistan. The results, of lack thereof, from Afghanistan demonstrate that it would undermine the possibility of reaching any durable political infrastructure. This is exactly what NATO and the international community on a whole hopes to avoid.
“Washington wants to make sure that democracy takes hold and that there is no major tribal fighting, that radial Islam does not become a major force and has no effect as far as terrorism in concerned.”– Charles Gurdon,Managing Director of Menas Consulting, London-based political risk consultant firm.
The fight for Libya was mainly a European one because of the fact that most Libyan exports go to Europe, rather than the US, but with the transitioning period approaching, the US will become more involved. Of course, many suggest that US interests are not a matter of oil, but that is idealization. Libya has an abundance of oil and gas, natural resources very coveted in the West. Occidental, Marathon, ConocoPhillips,Exxon and Hess all have oil projects in the region; illustrating that oil investment of these US-based corporations.
So saying, the US has made efforts towards unfreezing the $30+ billion in Libya assets to fund reconstruction efforts. The US will be taking a more direct form of involvement in the coming months to ensure that a downward spiral does not emerge. With elections upcoming, this involvement will not include troop presence because American are against such intervention and popularity is something President Barack Obama will covet.