News / Africa

Post-Gadhafi Libya Could Be Chaotic

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi talks during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of the American military bases in the country, in Tripoli, June 12, 2010
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi talks during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of the American military bases in the country, in Tripoli, June 12, 2010

Multimedia

Audio
Gary Thomas

Unrest continues to spread across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling governments in Egypt and Tunisia.  Still, those countries have maintained stability and security after the fall of their respective leaders.  But, Libya’s post-revolutionary landscape might be very different if Moammar Gadhafi follows the same forced exit of his counterparts in Tunis and Cairo.

Mr. Gadhafi has ruled Libya since 1969, which, by any standard, is pretty impressive staying power.  But such longevity raises the inevitable question: what happens when such a ruler is toppled?

In countries like Egypt and Tunisia, where popular street power led to the ouster of rulers there, the military stepped in afterward to keep things stable and secure.  However, Kamran Bokhari, director of Middle East and South Asia for the private intelligence firm Stratfor, says Mr. Gadhafi kept the military weak out of fear that it might challenge him.

Bokhari says, "The regime never allowed for the development of, for lack of a better term, an autonomous military institution of any worth.  Everything revolved around Gadhafi, family and friends - more so Gadhafi than family and friends.  It wasn’t even a single-party state.  It was a single figurehead state."

Author and Libya specialist Ronald Bruce St. John believes there will be some upheaval after Mr. Gadhafi’s departure but discounts the chances for a full-blown civil war.

St. Johns says, "I predict a period of uncertainty, hopefully not civil war. I don’t see any reason why there should be a civil war per se.  I’m hopeful that the tribal leadership in Libya - Libya is a very tribal society - I’m hopeful that the tribal leadership in Libya will step forward and find a way to work together to develop a new and more effective governmental system for the country."

But tribal cohesion is an unanswered question. Analysts say Mr. Gadhafi tried to either co-opt or weaken Libya’s many tribes, subtribes and clans because of the potential threat they posed to his power.  Charles Gurdon, managing director of the London-based political risk consultancy firm Menas, says Mr. Gadhafi also stirred up resentment in the eastern part of the country through his economic policies, which, he says, accounts for the current division.

Gurdon says, "There is resentment that the majority of the money for development went to the west and the center of the country and the east was largely left to rot.  And so there’s been a lot of antagonism between the two areas for some time.  However, I think the point now is, the vast majority of Libyans now want Gadhafi gone.  Also, there is a Libyan identity that people have, and so, hopefully, that will be stronger than regionalism or tribalism."

One scenario, as Kamran Bokhari puts it, is that Libya simply disintegrates into a state of warlordism, where different strongmen fight for control along the Mediterranean coast, which is where the bulk of the population is.  But another, more worrisome one, he says, is if the small jihadist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, tries to step into the vacuum.

Bokhari says, "That makes this a really scary scenario.  Can LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) team up with al-Qaida next door in Algeria to make use of this anarchy in this country to create small pockets of jihadist enclaves - not states per se, but operating room, if you will, places where they can recuperate, base themselves."

Charles Gurdon, whose group Menas publishes highly detailed analyses for its customers, discounts the threat of the LIFG and Islamic extremism in post-Gadhafi Libya.

Gurdon says, "Libyan Islam is Sufi, is moderate, is socially conservative, it’s not militant Sunni Muslim, it’s not Shia Muslim, and therefore I don’t see (it) as a being a threat. And so the idea that you’ll end up with one or two Islamic caliphates or emirates is nonsense.  It’s not going to happen.  Libya is a conservative country, socially conservative, and Islam probably will play a greater role.  But I don’t see it as becoming an Islamic state in the Mediterranean whatsoever."

In some of his rambling speeches, Mr Gadhafi has blamed a number of parties for the unrest in his country, including al-Qaida.


You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

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