Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of a very long road, or just a new corner?

The Libyan rebels are inside Tripoli in a so-far amazingly successful push against the tyrant Gaddhafi's stronghold. There are credible rumours that his son, Saif Al-Islam (pictured here), has been captured, while other rumours abound about Gaddhafi's current where abouts that can't be confirmed. The feeds and live coverage of the battle for Tripoli from the BBC is absolutely captivating - a highly recommended thing to watch and keep in the background. It's amazing to hear how, as forces entered into Tripoli, civilians were coming out in droves to support the rebels; how many soldiers still working for the regime simply decided to abandon their posts, some even joining up with the rebels as took over their position; and how NATO forces have performed admirably in support of the rebels, despite all the doubts surrounding the mission itself.

Point is, the reign of one of the worst dictators in the world is about to come to an end. There's no going back from this.

The question for Libyans is what happens after Gaddhafi is gone. We've seen some examples of post-dictator eras in countries like Iraq, Egypt, and Tunisia. How will Libyans act after their dictator is gone? Can they avoid the civil bloodshed that Iraq fell into, and can they avoid the lacklustre rebuilding of the government, and the stringent if misplaced idealism of protesters still camping out in Tunis and Cairo? Or, quite simply, could another dictator show up and take Gaddhafi's place? It's not hard to imagine a population, if ravaged enough by instability and the lack of a central government's fine touch on their lives, allowing another despot to take control. It's not so much a lack of resistance as it would be a need for safety - but it's a real threat that should be taken into account.

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