Don't rush to celebrate the post-Gadhafi era

Updated: 2011-08-26 16:52


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BEIJING - The Libyan rebels and NATO, having chosen the most violent means to effect change, have put an end to the 41-year rule of Muammar Gadhafi after fully taking control of the capital, Tripoli.

The price the Libyan people have paid for the "liberation" is enormous. The six-month-long civil war has completely paralysed the Libyan economy, ruined its lifeline oil industry, split the country between its West and East, unleashed tribal forces and left a heavy toll of casualties.

Despite Gadhafi's fate remaining unknown, his era has undoubtedly come to an end. However, there are reasons to remain cautious, or at least not too optimistic, about the country's future as no one has any illusions about the tremendous difficulties ahead.

The fact is that a new era is yet to come, due to the current power vacuum and a newly unfolding power struggle.

Currently, the big question is how long the transitional period will last in the crisis-torn North African country now that the Gadhafi regime is gone.

The answer to this largely lies with the rebels themselves. Now the common goal of toppling Gadhafi's rule in Libya has been achieved, can the rebel camp maintain its unity, establish a new cause, strike a sustainable power balance and secure national reconciliation? For the hastily formed National Transitional Council (NTC), it will be an extremely complicated and arduous mission to establish a national political structure that includes a parliament, various levels of governments, an army and police force.

Till now, the rebel camp has been crammed with figures holding different political viewpoints, including many defected officials from the Gadhafi government. And the Benghazi-headquartered NTC, though recognized by many countries, is not free of power struggles.

What's more, among the rebel forces pouring into Tripoli, some factions have voiced disapproval of the NTC, while others only see themselves as regional forces. Some rebel soldiers even set up check points after entering Tripoli to seize weapons from soldiers of other factions.

Fresh from months of fierce fighting against the forces loyal to Gadhafi, the NTC now needs tremendous efforts and more time to unite the various factions in a bid to gain full control of the whole situation.

What's also fueling the uncertainty about Libya's future is the involvement of foreign powers, which may seek to have a hand in the post-Gaddifi era for their own benefit. A hard fact is that the outcome of the civil war would have been totally different without NATO's bombing backup.

The political change in Libya is part of the transformation of the Middle East. Domestic and foreign powers will gradually show up in Libya to grab or expand their interests in the country. As a result, Libya will be confronted with an increasingly complex situation and more variables in the future.

From an old regime to a new government, an old order to a new era, Libya is undergoing a drastic and arduous transformation.

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