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article imageOp-Ed: Questions For A New Libya

By Sadiq Green     Oct 23, 2011 in World
Last Thursday, Libya celebrated the capture and death of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi with gunfire and jubilation. Now the work of building a new nation will begin in Libya and all the world will be watching to see what type of new nation emerges.
Questions abound on what's next for Libya beyond the obvious one: What will the new era mean for Libyans, the Middle East, the United States and the world at large? No one can be certain of what is next for Libya or if it will really become a full fledged democracy in the end. Will the future be better for Libyans? Exploring these other questions may provide some answers.
Will Libya descend into civil war?
Libya is historically a tribal country with ethnic divisions prone to factional strife and vendettas. During the colonial period, and under Gadhafi’s rule, that was largely suppressed. Now with Gadhafi out of power and without the hatred of Gadhafi to mobilize them, will the once united opposition begin to start fighting among themselves? It would be wise to draw lessons from the stalemated progress in Egypt and the chaos that occurred in Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussien's regime.
Can Libya build a democracy?
Gadhafi's death is clearly a defining moment in the history of the region. Yet it remains to be seen whether the new Libya will be the democratic nation that many western leaders are rooting for. The so-called Arab Spring uprisings have had their roots in long standing simmering dissatisfaction with autocratic rulers. They gave the appearance of demanding democratic reform, but whether true democracies emerge that reflect largely secular values will likely be the key to widespread peace in the region. Will Gadhafi’s death trigger the formal transition to democratic elections and a new constitution now that Libyans may now - for the first time in a generation - actually have a legitimate opportunity to determine the kind of country they want to live in? Will Gadhafi's overthrow become the second successful uprising of the Arab Spring to date following the events in Tunisia? Reportedly Libya’s NTC has used the past few months to prepare a transition plan that will depend on Libya generating wealth through its massive oil infrastructure to make it work.
Will this reignite the so-called Arab Spring?
The gruesome death of Gadhafi, the region's longest reigning dictator, is sure to awaken other rulers and re-energize pro-democracy forces. Syrians are bravely standing up to Bashar al-Assad, but all signs have pointed to al-Assad fighting harder to retain power, turning Syrians version of the Arab Spring into a bloody spout.
Has NATO created more Islamist enemies?
Perhaps the most troubling aspect from the uprising and death of Gadhafi may very well be the emergence of Islamist extremists and other hardliners from within the ranks of the Libyan rebel opposition. Islamist groups have been the biggest winners elsewhere in the Arab uprisings, and they may not necessarily welcome a secular government. Add to that the west and their propensity to turn a blind eye with regards to backing unsavory elements in the short term in order to establish whatever greater goal they're after. There has never been a clear understanding of who the leaders of the rebel movement are and/or whether some of the so-called freedom fighters actually had allegiances with Al-Qaeda and other unsavory groups. There are concerns that the new Western assisted regime will ultimately end up being more anti-west than Gadhafi was. It is not inconceivable that we could see Gadhafi’s regime being replaced by a Sharia regime populated by Al-Qaeda elements.
Gadhafi's death raises more questions than it answers, with perhaps the most pressing being whether can Libyans manage the transition from brutal dictatorship to functioning democracy. They only begin to scratch the surface of what is most assuredly a very historic, exciting and wary time for Libya's people.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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