Center for World Conflict and Peace

Center for World Conflict and Peace

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Post-Qaddafi Libya

The Libyan National Transitional Council finally confirmed that Muammar Qaddafi, the former leader of Libya, is finally dead. Assuming that this report is true, unlike the previously botched announcement on the capture of Qaddafi's children back on August during the fall of Tripoli, what's next for Libya?

First, the post-Qaddafi landscape is not encouraging. While the National Transitional Council has tried to put some semblance of a working bureaucracy in Libya, its power remains limited. In my earlier post, I mentioned that there was no guarantee that the rebels would remain united after Qaddafi was gone. Recent reports of so much weaponry missing and unaccounted from Qaddafi's arsenal seemed to provide proofs to my points. People are actually preparing for the upcoming conflict, that once Qaddafi gone, things will likely get very messy. Not surprisingly, recent attempts by the NTC to gather weapons back from Tripoli were met with failure. People were asking, "who's going to protect my family?"

This potential outcome, in turn, will be influenced by the one million dollar question: how did Qaddafi die? Did he die in his attempt to escape or was he was executed in cold-blood? The answer to the question likely determines whether the tribes that had the strongest bonds with Qaddafi will grudgingly accept the new government or resist it.

Should Qaddafi die with his dignity intact, the tribes might grumble, but in the end, they will likely accept the authority of the new government. If Qaddafi was humiliated and executed, however, it might create a huge uproar, and the death of Qaddafi would be used as a rallying point to fight the new Libyan government. Combined with the inability of the NTC to keep the tribes united, this would be a lethal combination for an extended violent conflict.

What should the NTC do? First, it needs to treat Qaddafi's remains with dignity. It is very tempting to desecrate the remains of someone who treated you harshly for decades, but in the end, Qaddafi still had many supporters and the last thing the NTC currently needs at this point is to foment an uprising. It needs to conduct a thorough investigation on how Qaddafi died, and make sure should there be some misconduct, the NTC should take appropriate measures.

Second, the NTC should start building a strong and professional army and police forces. Together, both could go a long way toward attempting to impose order and disarm the militias, thereby creating a peaceful environments for the population. As long as the militias remain running unhindered with arms, these groups will create long-term troubles.

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