International Crisis Group (ICG) has stated that ‘Amid today’s understandable euphoria, the magnitude of tomorrow’s challenge ought not to be underestimated.’ Libya has seen a new dawn, but what they do next is what will ensure that extends into a bright future.
Back in February, New Africa Analysis called for a smart intervention, in order for the North African country to be free of the harsh regime that Gaddafi presented. We have not had a smart, swift or precise intervention; but intervention nonetheless. Now, talk is centred on what next for the country after a six-month struggle to remove Africa’s most ruthless, deadly and megalomaniac dictator. The National Transitional Council (NTC) has got its work cut out to rebuild the country and make it a free, fair and inclusive one, in line with the aspirations of the people. Although it may be a struggle to rebuild the country, it will be a process in which many want to help and much good can come from it. The ICG have stated however, that it is the United Nations (UN) that must be heavily relied upon, international bodies that do wish to help the progression of Libya towards a better ruled country should do so through the UN. In this way the people of Libya might continue to own the transition process and not feel dictated to by any one group or state.
The involvement of the UN would echo the cry of Barrack Obama, who urged the world in his Nobel Peace Prize speech back in ‘09 to ‘intervene early and work together when responding to mass atrocities’. The US independent think tank, the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR), also said that ‘it’s imperative that the international community must respond and become responsible for the people of that country’. Although kind offerings, both of these statements should be dealt with respectfully, and sensitively as the Libyan people have been dictated to for too long. Other countries seizing control of what should be their decision could incite hatred towards the nations that try to help them, which in turn would cause more chaos. It is to that end that the most sensible suggestion would be for the Libyans to unite; by way of the NTC involving the whole of Libya, by co-operating with representatives from all corners of their communities and making decisions together. However, Libya needs to start as it means to go on, by re-forming its government into a fair and just one that can be relied upon by everyone within and without.
The TNC should be seen to be examples that the Libyan nation can follow; respectful and respected, law abiding, fully communicative, honest and inclusive. Disarming is necessary, protecting all Libyans and seeing that Gaddafi and all those closely involved with his murderous regime face a fair trial. And, what better place for a fair trial for a captured Gaddafi and his homicidal cohorts than the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. It is also important that a country undergoing such a massive political change, is not wholly responsible for Gaddafi’s fate, but is instead free to concentrate fully on the ‘clean up’ of six months of bloodshed and mayhem. The pressure of containing Gaddafi’s trial within the country could be just too much, and the unrest certainly unfair on a people that need time and space to repair themselves.
Chatham House the UK’s independent international affairs think tank held a Libyan Working Group meeting on the 18th August 2011, and offered a positive outlook overall on country’s developments and also summarised some of their achievements. The basic premise that can be applied to Libya’s progress so far is that it has achieved a lot, but has a lot of cleaning up to do; much like the mass clean up after a teenage house party that got out of control whilst the parents are away, and the anticipated re-building of trust. NAA agrees with Chatham House and the ICG; the NTC needs to work with the police to restore civilian order, weapons need to be seized back from the civilians, – Chatham House suggest using ‘financial incentives’ – basic supplies and services need to be restored, ‘skilled expatriate and diaspora Libyans’ need to be sought and welcomed back, and the NTC need to concentrate on bringing Libya back to its feet in all senses. The NTC have recognised this, and are acting upon it according to Chatham House, who stated that the Council have ‘made substantial developments in its transitional planning’, by putting together a 37-point framework, which will help the country in ‘moving towards the drafting of a permanent constitution within 20 months.’
Of course there is the question of financial stability, Libya needs money, and it could be well on its way to getting it, with expected help from the global community, and ‘unfreezing [Gaddafi’s] regime’s assets held by foreign governments would be enormously helpful in restoring services and ensuring stability’. Not to mention the oil industry which is Libya’s main export and biggest asset to its government body; international companies are keen to start trading with the country again. It is not even a question of Libya being thrown onto the world’s stage because of recent events and receiving publicity, the wealth that the nation holds is well documented and is capable of huge profits to all involved and people will always flock to that.
Yes, Libya has taken a great blow, but it is a proud African country and it has clear plans for progression, the only way is forward. However, there are pot-holes that need to be avoided so that Libya’s journey to progression is less complicated, the largest one being that the NTC needs to be a supportive and supported government body. The last thing that is needed is another dictator, yet it is important that those who worked closely with Gaddafi – but who did not abuse human rights – are utilised as helpful candidates, without fear of reprisal. The government needs to regain its faith from the civilians, but they can only do that by earning it. The civilians are all victims of abuse and abandonment by a system they thought that they could trust in. The NTC, need to show that the people are their primary concern for everything that they do from now on. Security, honesty and financial stability are the three main factors in showing that the future is bright for them.
Libya needs to be strong and egocentric, as not all views of its future are bright and optimistic. For example, Chatham House on the 18th August 2011 stated: ‘Best case scenario in the liberation of Tripoli would be the capture of Gaddafi and his sons. The worst case would be lengthy siege as the prelude to a massacre and Gaddafi’s escape; Citing both outcomes as ‘equally likely’. Then on the 24th August 2011, Max Boot, writing for the CFR focused on the shortcomings of Libya’s ‘freedom’; highlighting issues such as ‘property disputes between returning refugees and those who occupied their homes when they left’, as huge problems likely to cause the fall of the country. Of course, some Libyans will be unsettled and untrusting towards their fellow countrymen, but not every action should now be compared to riotous and deeply controversial behaviour. Libya is a proud African country with huge potential; plans are in place and support is available. So trying to devalue its efforts before it has been given a chance by likening it to a ‘post-Taliban Afghanistan’ and a ‘post- Saddam Hussein Iraq’, is not helpful.