March 6, 2012

The Fruits of armed conflicts: Three Libyas?

    Tuesday, March 06, 2012   No comments

The difference between peaceful and violent overthrow of regimes is now on display in Libya. Historically, the majority of countries emerging out of armed conflicts end up being divided along ethnic, religious, or ideological lines. Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Sudan are recent cases of countries losing some control over parts of its territories. Libya might be on the same path.

In Libya, the peaceful uprising was quickly transformed into an armed rebellion to counter the brutality unleashed by the ruthless tyrant, Muammar Qaddafi. In the process, violence became the currency for preserving civil and political interests. The rebels who were united in their drive to overthrow the dictator are now divided over who governs and controls natural resources.

Political Leaders, under the shadow of their local armed militia, in eastern Libya have declared semi-autonomy for their oil-rich region at a meeting in Benghazi. They argued that the declaration is necessary since the region, once known as Cyrenaica, has been ignored and marginalized for too long.

Present at the meeting were tribal elders in traditional clothes, military officers in a multitude of uniforms, and militia leaders in the patchy camouflage fatigues of the revolution. The participants announced that they wanted for the region to have its own parliament, police force, courts and capital, Benghazi. Foreign policy would be left to the federal government in Tripoli. Ahmed al-Zubair, a former political prisoner under Gaddafi and a member of the governing National Transitional Council (NTC), was appointed leader of a governing council.
The NTC denounced the move as "dangerous" and "a blatant call for fragmentation… We are against divisions and against any move that hurts the unity of the Libyan people," Fathi Baja, head of the NTC's political committee, told the Associated Press.

It is likely that the southern tribes and the Ibadis of Jbel Nfousa would also declare themselves autonomous leaving the country divided into at least three regions. Such an arrangement could trigger prolonged armed civil war between the regions that have oil and those that don’t.


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