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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More