Saturday, October 22, 2011

Leaving Libya?

The reports on how Muammar Qaddafi died aren't likely to enhance the new Libyan government's repect for the rule of law. This is an obviously unsympathetic report from RT, Guts, No Glory: Gaddafi death leaves blood on hands of NATO PR machine YouTube date 10/21/2011.

This Aljazeera English report suggests that NATO may want to end its military role in Libya quickly, which strikes me as a very good idea. NATO set to withdraw from Libya YouTube date 10/21/2011:

The is a lot of skepticism about the possibilities of continued civil war, such as those Matthias Kolb discusses in Gaddafis Tod und die Folgen für Libyen: Nach dem Sieg ist vor dem Kampf Süddeutsche Zeitung 21.10.2011. Kolb notes that there was not even a dummy parliament nor pretend political parties under Qaddafi's rule. So, unlike in Tunisia or Egypt, even those committed to building a democracy have little relevant experience with the necessary political skills. Tribal divisions and the widespread availability of weapons in Libya could present serious complications for the future.

Juan Cole has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Libyan rebels, which has now become the official Libyan government, and he also supported the US-NATO intervention. He is one of the most optimistic I've seen on the immediate prospects for peace in Libya. In Informed Comment 10/21/2011, he writes:

Those who expect Libya now to fragment, or to turn into a North African Baghdad, are likely to be disappointed. It is improbable that Qaddafi’s cult will long survive him, at least on any significant scale. Libya has no sectarian divides of the Sunni-Shiite sort. Almost everyone is a Sunni Muslim. It does have an ethnic divide, as between Arabs and Berbers. But the Berbers are bilingual in Arabic, and are in no doubt as to their Libyan identity. The Berbers vigorously joined in the revolution and more or less saved it, and are very likely to be richly rewarded by the new state.

The east-west divide only became dire because Qaddafi increasingly showed favoritism toward the west. A more or less democratic government that spreads around the oil largesse more equitably could easily overcome this divide, which is contingent and not structural.

Libyan identity is not in doubt, and most Libyans are literate and have been through state schools. Most Libyans live in cities where tribal loyalties have attenuated.
If things work out that way, great. But I hope the Obama Administration disengages quickly from this ill-conceived intervention to minimize the chances of the US getting further involved as a partisan in a Libyan civil war.


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