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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid