The ‘mad dog’, grand antagonist of the West and founder of hyperbolic propaganda, is no more. Gaddafi and his tyrannical rule have evaporated over night with the victorious revolutionaries liberating their capital city. An Orwellian state cease to exists; but the war is not over, yet. Whilst NATO special forces and intelligence services search for Gaddafi, the rebels must learn to co-operate with each other; liberals and Islamists is not the perfect constitution for a long term successful government. Potentially, this has all the ingredients for another Iraq-esque sectarian divide and breeding ground for violence.
Libya is divided into three traditional regions; Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. There is a significant danger of the country being torn apart along these lines. With the National Transitional Council relocating from Benghazi, there are many in Tripoli who will object to political dominance from Eastern Libya. Western aspirations and desires for the NTC to become the tutelage for this new democracy is very ambitious and premature. Subsequently, a blood soaked future might be a genuine reality. Yugoslavia and Iraq are warnings from history of potential occurrences when removing authoritarian regimes; power vacuums succumb to turmoil and chaos, with different factions manoeuvring for institutions of control. Whether we object to it or not, the United Nations might have to deploy a peacekeeping mission. There is no guarantee of former Gaddafi loyalists avoiding subversive actions or groups. Remember, Gaddafi came to power by a military coup and NATO will need to prevent another figure arising from the rubble. Currently, no evidence points to the NTC becoming a significant stabilising force for the country – majority of ordinary Libyans are armed. Theoretically, this could be much, much worse than the fall of Baghdad.
And there is one major obstacle for NATO; possible revenge attacks. Frequently over the past few days, reports of British, French and Arab Special Forces have been leading the rebel command structure and the conquest of Tripoli. Firstly, to provide leadership and correct military precision of the operation, but also to ensure revenge attacks and random executions do not take place. I’m not surprised to learn the hunt for Gaddafi and key regime figures is left to the responsibility of the SAS; many Western leaders are fearful what the revolutionaries would do, if they locate the whereabouts of the fallen dictator. That is why I was sceptical of reports of possible capture of Gaddafi’s sons’. Covertly, this is not a realistic revolution, but an NATO inspired overthrow of a tyrant. Libya is effectively Iraq without the jingoistic rhetoric or deployment of Western armies.
Benghazi is almost operating in a parallel universe when compared to Tripoli. The civil war divided the nation in two, and thus creating two rival capitals; dangerously, many governments recognised the legitimacy of the rival NTC administration at the start of the conflict. South Africa, and other African nations, did not. African Union’s timid and some what inept response creates more problems for NATO. What if the African Union refuses to recognise the authority of the new Libyan government? Nobody has considered the outcome. It would be near impossible to coerce the AU leadership into accepting the new Libyan arrangements. Plus, the Libyan economy would suffer as a result. Especially if Libya is suspended or expelled from the African Union.
We may celebrate the fall of Gaddafi, which I wholeheartedly do, but the consequences need to be investigated. A possible future is already bleeding into the present and becoming a reality. A power vacuum now exists in the Libyan capital, with no end in sight. A nation created out of violence tends to subsequently exist in that very state; for the sake of Libya and the region, let’s hope I am wrong.