Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Libya: As tyranny ends, the fear is of yet more bloodshed

The people of Libya are going to be waking up from a 41-year nightmare. But there will be some degree of fear that what will come after will be less than a smooth transition.

We can predict that everything will go into a state of suspension for at least the next six months.

The Libyan Transitional Council, which although it has been recognised by 32 foreign countries since it was formed in March this year, is extremely faction-driven.

We need to remember, for example, only earlier this month the military commander of the Transitional Council was killed and that it was believed to be an inside job, and as of today there is no cabinet. Nato, to some extent, has aided the Libyan Transitional Council and there is also a contact group.

Despite the calls to let the Libyan people decide their own future after bringing down this tyranny, I expect that what we will see is evidence of at least some kind of international input, through the UN, through Nato and through this contact group.

What we are not likely to see is an Afghanistan or an Iraq scenario were there is a deployment of foreign troops, but what we might see is the appearance of foreign advisers. They have already been there in terms of preparing the rebels.

It will take time for the Libyan people to adjust to a new way of living.

What we have got to remember is that for the last 41 years Libyans have been living under a tyranny.

Moreover, Muammar Gaddafi established a state and a system of rule that was based on his own idea, his own extreme concept of mass democracy, of control, of loyalty to him and his extended family.

People had no freedom, they lived in a society that is constantly surveyed by secret police and intelligence agents and informants.

There have been calls on the rebels not to take any reprisals to avoid bloodshed and to have respect for human rights.

This may well be the case in the coming days, but the issue is not in the coming days, but what happens afterwards, particularly as it is a tribal society, the Transitional Council itself is extremely factional, and therefore internal power struggles during this transition may lead to more bloodshed.

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