Unlike Tunisia or Egypt, Gadhafi will use as much brute force as he can import to quell the uprising... because there is no brake on his power other than the ability of the Libyan people to fight tooth and nail with their own wits and blood against him. This is truly a civil war, with the force of the empire aligned against the good people of Libya, a country afloat in incredible oil wealth, yet impoverished and as backward as any can imagine. Under Gadhafi Libya is a nation without a future. And you can be sure Gadhafi will fight to the last bullet. This is not someone inclined to flee the bunker.This is probably as good as any information currently in the media and better than most. It is, however, not going to be as relatively bloodless and democratic as Tunisia or Egypt have been so far.
One must understand that Libya is a colonial construct; stitched together by the allegiance of tribes, albeit for money and convenience.
In the short run, the eastern province, with the principal city of Benghazi, has traditionally been a hot bed of anti-Gadhafi activity and reports suggest it has fallen into the hands of his adversaries. Indeed, it is possible that Benghazi would declare itself an independent Islamic emirate. Too early to tell.
The key to Gadhafi's longevity is the city of Tripoli... Libya's capital to the west near the Tunisian border. A city controlled by Gadhafi's own tribe and by the paid allegiance of his police and mercenaries.
Tonight, Gadhafi lost the crucial support of two tribes vital to his rule -- the Awlad Soweija which has Islamist extremist elements in it and is based in around Benghazi, as well as the Awlad Waffala, which is the largest tribe south of Tripoli. The loss of the latter is a devastating blow to what passes as his regime.
In the event that Tripoli falls out of Gadhafi's control, Libya may descend in the short run into chaos and anarchy, since there is no one to take over unless a council of exiled democrats can come together, perhaps under the chapeau of the pretenders to deposed King Idriss. That may be Libya's best hope to prevent Libyans from having to die further once Gadhafi and his brood are banished. Memo to popular Libyans in exile: you will have to move quickly to catch the tail of this tiger before it becomes too late to do so.
What is clear is that there is a strong Islamist opposition that has targeted Gadhafi in the past. Ironically, the dictator who introduced conservative Shariah values is himself the target of their ire.
In this power vacuum, waiting in the wings are the remnants of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) -- now merged with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). LIFG is not the Taliban. It does not have the depth and breadth of support among the key tribes. But in the wake of the lawlessness that would inevitably take hold should Gadhafi fall, Libya could easily disintegrate into tribal redoubts and Somali-type Islamist insurgency where tribalism and Al Qaeda sympathizers battle it out. Think of Afghanistan in North Africa if a simplistic analogy is called for.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
What next for Libya? Ambassador Marc Ginsberg (former ambassador to Morocco) writes his predictions: