News / Middle East

Gadhafi Death Has Repercussions for Arab Spring

Fighters with Libya's interim government celebrate at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli October 20, 2011.
Fighters with Libya's interim government celebrate at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli October 20, 2011.
Elizabeth Arrott

The killing of Libya's ex-leader Moammar Gadhafi may prove a cautionary tale to autocrats in the region who face uprisings of their own.  But Gadhafi's death will have the most immediate impact on the transition in Libya itself.

It was a bloody end to a bloody rule.

The images of Gadhafi apparently set upon by his enemies and dragged through the streets signaled a new and violent twist to the uprisings sweeping the Arab world this year.

Image taken from amateur video posted on a social media website and obtained by Reuters, October 21, 2011, shows former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, covered in blood, after his capture by NTC fighters in Sirte.
Image taken from amateur video posted on a social media website and obtained by Reuters, October 21, 2011, shows former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, covered in blood, after his capture by NTC fighters in Sirte.

The first of the region's ousted strongmen, Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, fled into exile.  Egypt's Hosni Mubarak was put behind bars.  Those upheavals, as well as Libya's, have been keenly watched by protesters in Yemen, Syria and beyond.

"The killing of Gadhafi, the dictator, is sending a shock wave to the burdened president of Yemen, who still wants to stay in power," said political analyst Said Sadek, a professor of politics and sociology at the American University in Cairo, "and Syrian president [Bashar al] Assad who would now see that the three top dictators of the Arab world, Mubarak, [Zine el Abidine] Ben Ali in Tunisia and Gadhafi, are gone. And not to mention [Iraq's] Saddam Hussein in 2003. I think now they will have nightmares."

Advantages versus disadvantages

But the killing of a longtime ruler can bring problems of its own.

While numerous other factors come into play, Saddam's execution helped rally his supporters, amplifying the sectarian violence that plagues the country to this day. Tunisia, on the other hand, has moved far more quickly toward a new order, holding elections Sunday.

Rania al Malki, a political analyst and editor in Cairo, argues there may be advantages to a death like Gadhafi's over a trial or exile.

"I think his death means closure," Malki said.  "We have sensed the constant lack of closure in a place like Egypt.  Our former president is being tried and this has kept an open wound opened for a very long time.  And it will, because it reminds people again and again of what happened before and of the martyrs that were killed during the uprising."

It's a point, she argues, even more important in Libya, where the death toll was so much higher, and prolonging the suffering of public reminders would be worse.

Cairo professor Sadek says there may also be political and security advantages to the way events unfolded in Libya.   

"This rationale is that if you don't get rid of those old regimes and its leading members they will cause havoc and they will destabilize the country," Sadek said. "I think what happened [Thursday] is very good for the transitional council in Libya. It will open the gate for the new political process. It would also undermine any support of the old supporters of Gadhafi to continue the war and continue causing trouble for the Libyan people."

Moving forward

The death of Gadhafi also means one of the common causes uniting the opposition forces now set to run Libya is gone.  

"It's going to have to go through a period of lack of clarity," Malki said. "It's going to have to go through a period of internal strife and struggle, but also at the same time there's going to have to be a lot of internal dialogue for the Libyan people to decide how they want to see their country built, which direction they want to go, and how they want to renew their entire system and create new institutions."

Malki calls the next immediate future a "teething stage," one that any country that has gone through what she terms "this horrible ordeal" would have to endure.

But at this point, both Malki and Sadek believe the shared misery of the past and its irrevocable closure, will help bind Libyans enough to reach some kind of compromise on the way forward.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs