Kadhafi est mort! Maintenant, que faisons-nous?
Kadhafi is Dead! Now, what do we do?
Kadhafi is dead. He was killed this morning. The condition(s) and the manner(s) of his death are not important to me. What is important, however, is that he is no longer a rallying figure to the most extreme fringes and elements that chose to fight and squash the will of the Libyan people to live without tyranny. His real capacity for nuisance was relatively low since the overwhelming majority of the Libyan territory was under the control of the TNC. His violent counter-revolution was finished the day Tripoli rose up and liberated itself from his sadistic grip. We noticed that day that the “dear leader” wasn’t even in control of his own backyard. The good people of the capital, his political base for decades, had only contempt and hatred for him. I go even further and argue that Kadhafi was finished politically and his faith was sealed the day he chose to ignore the legitimate grievances of his people for greater freedoms and decent living. Instead, he let his egomaniac personality dictate his actions. In one rambling speech after the other, he called the Libyan people who dared to challenge the psychopathic rule of “A-Za’iime” rats, terrorists, drug addicts, Zionists, and traitors. “Let us exterminate them; chase them and hunt them house by house, street by street,” said the defunct “Za’iime.” With speeches like these, the Libyan people didn’t have the choice anymore. They had to unit; they had to fight to the bitter end; they had to kill or get killed. Briefly, they had to remove him from power with whatever means necessary; and removing him, they did.
So what now? Kadhafi is dead, and he left behind him a divided country; a country that is economically very fragile (a classic rentier state); a country that is poorly institutionalized because Kadhafi feared that institutionalization would lead to his removal from power. So the dear leader never bothered to build or reinforce any institution. Everything was done informally, through clientelistic and patronage networks. Even the military was not institutionalized with a clear chain of command and an esprit de corps. Those who didn’t know the political structure of the Libyan regime (by the way, read Dirk Vanwalle’s excellent book Libya Since Independence: Oil and State-Building) were surprised by how disorganized, ineffective and divided the Libyan army was. Well, that is one of the symptoms of a poorly institutionalized country. The dear leader distributed or redistributed oil windfalls between the different Libyan tribes to keep them divided, weak, and in a perpetual paranoid state of conflict. Libya, for all intents and purposes, does not meet the definition of a modern, rational state (as Weber defines it, if you wish to use that definition). Therefore, the task before the TNC and the future leaders of Libya is pharaonic, but it is not an impossible one. There are clear steps (and i agree with Juan Cole’s assessment here) that must be taken to set good foundations for the future state of Libya.
- Disarmament and rehabilitation of all the rebels (those who wish to join the military could do so);
- Restructuring and rebuilding the military (to avoid possible disbandment of the military) as well as law enforcement organizations such as the police and court officials as fast as possible;
- One months of a martial law to guarantee a minimum of law and order and avoid anarchy;
- Setting up ad-hoc tribunals supervised by the ICC to bring to justice the family/entourage of the defunct leader as well as dealing with and minimizing all extra-legal attempts for vengeance and personal vendetta;
- A well-thought out amnesty law whose aim is to forge a sense of national unity and identity, and chart a clear path for the future;
- International financial aid—the new interim Libya government needs to have access to substantial funds to avoid high inflation, and provide a minimum welfare for the citizens (reopening schools, universities, government institutions and bureaucracy, paying state workers and so forth);
- Organizing elections (in 6 or 9 months from now) for a constituent assembly whose main job is to craft a constitution for the country (a constitution that guarantees basic freedoms, and sets up the broad features of the state such as separation of powers, multiparty democracy and so forth), organize the first legislative elections, and oversee the activities of the interim government.
These few steps would minimize the chaotic environment, which accompany every violent revolution and drastic change of power. If implemented, the future of Libya as a democratic state would be a bit more certain.
The Libyans need to know and must be aware that while removing Kadhafi was a hard task and a great achievement, rebuilding the country will be a tremendously tougher task.
In many ways, the Libyans have won the battle for the liberation of the country; they have won the smaller revolution. Now, it is only through hard work and dedication that the greater revolution can be won, the revolution for the rebuilding of Libya. This effort will be long and frustrating. There will be many setbacks and even serious regressions. Nevertheless, just know, that democracy isn’t easy; it is a constant struggle for self-betterment. And every step taken in the right direction is a step taken for the betterment of Libya.