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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs