Thursday, 25 August 2011

Libyan civil war closure: Find Gadhafi. That's the least of Libyan worries.

Little Richard says it best: "Slippin' and a-slidin' peepin' and a-hidin'"

Where is Gadhafi?  Benghazi businessman puts up $1.5 million bounty for Gadhafi dead or alive. But what happens when the civil war is won by the rebels?

by Tom Thorne
There is little doubt now that Libya currently is a wild west.  A  Benghazi businessman has put up $1.5 US for Muammar Gadhafi dead or alive. This generous bounty was endorsed by the rebel government in waiting. The reward encourages anyone close to Gadhafi to bring him in no questions asked.
Other language such as "fleeing dictator and his entourage" are now prominent in the media world wide. First, at this time there is no knowledge of Gadhafi's whereabouts and no one really knows whether he is "fleeing" or not. 
Again we are treated to speculation on TV and in print and now instantly on websites of major newspapers using these loaded words. The truth is at this moment as I write Muammar Gadhafi could be dead, he could be alive, he could be in Libya or he could be in a safe haven outside the country.
No one really knows where he is. It is a similar story to the fate of Saddam Hussein in Iraq who also simply disappeared to be found many months later alive in a hole in the ground. A wretched tired and beaten Saddam was brought to trial and hanged in Baghdad.
Gadhafi is passé..but his influence will live on as bad habits.
Really the fate of Gadhafi is a moot point. His 42 year dictatorship is for all intents and purposes, over. His control of Libya is gone. So now Libyans are faced with picking up the pieces of a broken country that has no tradition of democracy and is always scarred by tribal and clan interests. 
Now Libyans are faced with a transitionary government that may be barely able to keep the lid on the country. It will be hard because the rebels are fighting together now but those forces are made up of many Libyan factions and so it can be tough to step down the enthusiasm of these well armed bands. The blood of the battle field is a strong bond.
The Egyptian revolutionary experience was very different.
In Egypt most of the arms and ammunition were in the hands of a disciplined professional army. In this case the arms are in the hands of the people. As this ragtag force got to Tripoli it built up its morale and camaraderie that made me think of old films of the armed revolutionaries of Fidel Castro entering Havana. The future could be much different than we think once the civil war in Libya is won.
In the Egyptian revolution the people were not armed. Although the revolt was popular it was largely peaceful. The Egyptian Army controlled the streets. At this time there is discontent in Egypt over the controls and lack of elections and so there may be conflict with their transitionary government which seems to be tightening its grip rather than providing democratic opportunities. Tensions are rising again in Egypt.
In Libya the people or groups of people or perhaps even tribes and clans armed themselves and began a violent civil war to oust Muammar Gadhafi. When you win with a gun in your hand your power base is much different than the Egyptian peaceful model.
I predict that factions will emerge in Libya who will want to retain their arms and will not fully trust the participants in the transitionary government. The transition from 42 years of dictatorship to a democracy may not be easily realizable or even in the cards. The intelligentsia of Libya will have its hands full making the peace work. 
Gadhafi ruled Libya for a long time by playing off one faction against another. Many people vying for power now have ties to the 42 year Gadhafi rule and its old habits. Old habits die hard.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

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