Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Analysis: Libya may face civil war as Gaddafi’s grip loosens

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(Reuters) – Libya faces chaos and possible civil war as Muammar Gaddafi fights to maintain his 42-year grip on power in the face of a popular uprising.

Even if he flees — assuming he could find a refuge — Gaddafi would leave a nation with few normal structures for a peaceful transition, after four decades of his idiosyncratic rule.

“Any post-Gaddafi period is fraught with uncertainty,” said Middle East analyst Philip McCrum. “There is no organized opposition, there are no civil institutions around which people could ordinarily gather.

“The opposition in exile is small and disparate. It will therefore take a long time for a new political order to establish itself and in the meantime, political tensions will run high as various competing groups, such as the tribes, the army, Islamists and liberals vie for power.”

Dozens of people were reported killed in Libya overnight as anti-government protests reached the capital, Tripoli, for the first time. Several eastern cities appeared to be in opposition hands. The revolt has already cost more than 200 lives.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of the mercurial leader’s sons, appeared on state TV overnight, mixing threats with appeals for calm, saying the army would enforce security at any price.

“We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even the last woman standing,” he said, waving a finger at the camera.

McCrum said Saif al-Islam’s speech had probably scotched any hopes among young Libyans that he could be a force for reform.

The uprising in Libya already looks set to be the bloodiest in a series of popular protests racing across the Middle East from Algeria to Yemen. Possibilities for compromise look slim.


“Libya is the most likely candidate for civil war because the government has lost control over part of its own territory,” said Shadi Hamid, of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

“Benghazi was lost to the opposition and there are reports of other smaller cities going the same way. It is not something the Gaddafi regime is willing to tolerate.”

Benghazi, a city in eastern Libya — the region that is home to most of the country’s oilfields — is a traditional hotbed of anti-Gaddafi sentiment among tribes hostile to his rule.

As the protests have snowballed, Islamic leaders and once-loyal tribes have declared for the opposition.

Saad Djebbar, a London-based Algerian lawyer who for years defended Libya in the Lockerbie airline bombing case, said Gaddafi must go. Read more, here.


Written by Theophyle

February 22, 2011 at 8:40 am

Posted in Libya, Middle East, Reuters

Tagged with , ,

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  1. […] Analysis: Libya may face civil war as Gaddafi’s grip loosens … […]

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