A second Arab dictator escaped accountability. And although his fate was far worse than others, the process of holding him accountable could have played an important role in Libya’s reconciliation.
But now with Qaddafi gone, it remains to be seen whether Libya’s diverse and heavily armored factions can work together. It won’t be easy. Even before Qaddafi’s death, Libya’s acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he would be quitting soon citing “a political struggle with no boundaries.”
While Libya is in no need of financial assistance, it is desperate for a national reconciliation meeting that must be held quickly. Additionally, a credible government must be formed that takes all factions into account. Certainly Libya’s complex Arabian tribal structure must be taken into consideration in any reconciliation efforts, and countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which have similar tribal structures, can be vital in such efforts.
This task was complicated though after Qatar, Libya’s closest Arab ally, was accused by both Western diplomats and National Transitional Council officials of meddling in Libya’s internal affairs. The allegations center around Qatar’s close relationship with Islamist leaning individuals like Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the Tripoli Military Council as well as the Sallabi brothers.
The National Transitional Council, after a series of delays and missteps today lacks credibility in the eyes of many in Libya and among the international community. Some of its members were closely affiliated with the previous regime for decades, others who raised their families in exile are seen to not have much in common with Libyans who have had to struggle under Qaddafi. Those controversial figures should resign their posts.
Will this week be remembered as the day Libya started its descent into a new civil war or the day in which a bright new page was turned in this North African country’s history?
This article was originally published in The New York Times on October 21, 2011.