News / Middle East

Libya Unsettled Two Years After Gadhafi Death

FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.
x
FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.
FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.
Libyans on Sunday marked the second anniversary of the death of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, whose killing by rebels ended the Libyan uprising against the longtime dictator.  But despite the celebratory flag-waving and fireworks, the transition from autocracy to democracy is proving harder than they expected.

Libyan celebrations are always loud affairs with fireworks, blaring patriotic music and militiamen letting off bursts of automatic gunfire, and today the young especially are pleased to party to mark the second anniversary of the death of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Nabila, a 22-year-old student, was out with friends in Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square.
 
“Today means everything for Libyans, especially for me," Nabila said. "I am so happy for this day. Because everybody going his flag on her flag and going and say 'this is the revolution, this is the freedom for Libya.' ”
 
But away from scenes of mainly youthful revelry with young men and women seizing a rare chance to mingle freely, many Libyans are worried.

They knew there would be missteps and mishaps but since last year’s anniversary the country has been roiled by lawlessness. The French embassy has been bombed and other foreign missions attacked and Libya has been governed as much by unruly, self-willed revolutionary militias as by elected albeit squabbling politicians. Earlier this month, gunmen kidnapped the prime minister, if only briefly.     
The surge in drug use and crime worries Libyan journalist Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
 
“I am feeling that Libya gets crushed in a wall or something like that because there were no security at the moment," Abdul Wahab said. "And I am feeling that the government is very weak. And the government must do very good steps about the security issue in Libya.”
 
Optimism remains

But taking measures isn’t so easy. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has asked for Western assistance in training militiamen to become soldiers but in the past two years plans to set up a national army have come and gone, floundering on militia resistance. Zeidan has been able to do little in the face of a months-long blockade by militias of oilfields and seaports.  

Is it all doom and gloom? Mother-of-three Holima Elhaj says most Libyans are not in a celebratory mood. They are fearful of the rampant lawlessness and frustrated by the high cost of living, but she says there is one good thing worth noting.
 
“People are very happy they can speak freely. With the previous regime no one could say a word,” said Elhaj.  
 
Now at least they can complain but some lawmakers think Libyans should be more understanding, and patient about the pace of change, says lawmaker Mohammad Saad.

“The people they think that as we have money we can do anything quickly, that is how they think, as you have money in your pocket so you can buy anything you want,” said Saad. "For the individuals okay but for country you have to build the laws, you have to put the right people in the right position and you have to make the planning for things, it is not easy.”

On this anniversary, mixed in with the celebration, there is foreboding. Civil society activist Leila says she tries to remain confident but harbors doubts.

“We are trying to be optimistic, hopefully, maybe. But personally I am not sure,” said Leila.

Today Libyans will try to quell their worries, but in the east in Benghazi, widespread violence broke out after the assassination of a military police commander Friday,  adding to the sense of foreboding.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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