Local experts: Libya’s future is uncertainMoammar Gadhafi is dead. That may be the only certainty that Libya and the rest of the world has for now. Local political experts say the country doesn’t have a culture of democracy or a capable system of government ministries.
By: By Helmut Schmidt, Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Moammar Gadhafi is dead. That may be the only certainty that Libya and the rest of the world has for now.
Local political experts say the country doesn’t have a culture of democracy or a capable system of government ministries.
There are racial and tribal tensions that could fracture the coalition government and lead to further civil war.
And there’s still the possibility that al Qaida or other Islamic fundamentalists could turn the country into their next haven.
The future is not automatically rosy for Libya, said Thomas Ambrosio, an associate professor of political science at North Dakota State University, Fargo.
“We might someday miss having Gadhafi in power,” Ambrosio said. “Yes, he was crazy. Yes, he was a terrorist. But he did create stability in Libya. We may not have that in the future.”
He said there are no foreign policies that have no costs.
“We don’t know what this new government will look like,” Ambrosio said.
“Yes, (the National Transitional Council of Libya is) saying all the right things. Democracy. Peace. Friends of the United States,” he said. “But we know that there are elements of al Qaida there, and elements of Islamic fundamentalism. And of course they’re going to say the right things now. Now, we’ll have to see what happens.”
Andrew Conteh, a professor of political science at Minnesota State University Moorhead, also said stability is not guaranteed for Libya.
“It has to be worked at carefully,” Conteh said. “It could lead to an upheaval if not properly managed.”
Libya is a divided country not only along tribal lines, but racially between Arabs and blacks, Conteh said.
There have also been many crimes committed under Gadhafi. And settling old scores could destroy the nation, just as Yugoslavia fragmented in a series of bloody wars after Josep Broz Tito died.
“The major work today is to try and work towards some kind of reconciliation,” Conteh said. “That I think is very important.”
If there is an immediate plus, it’s that Gadhafi can no longer meddle in the affairs of other nations, Conteh said. Gadhafi helped form the African Union, but he also backed dictators and rebel causes around the continent, including Charles Taylor in Liberia, Idi Amin in Uganda, and Foday Sankoh in Sierra Leone.
Important indicators of Libya’s fate will be how quickly a new constitution is created, and how quickly there are elections, Ambrosio said.
“If we start seeing this National Transitional Council fracturing into, basically, gangs who are interested in their own interests and divvying up territory, divvying up oil revenues, etc., etc., if we start seeing that, then Libya’s future is not going to be positive,” he said.
Conteh said Libya will need help to rebuild its society and turn itself from a dictatorship into a democracy.
“Libya does not have a democratic culture,” he said. “A democratic culture means patience. A democratic culture means you have to have an accommodating temperament. You’ve got to be willing to accept orders, You’ve got to be willing to protect the interests of minorities.”
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.