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 On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid