Muammar Qaddafi’s death closed the chapter of a long and cruel dictatorship in Libya. At the same time, his demise opens the door for great uncertainty about the future in an Arab nation that must create a new political structure, after more than 40 years under an iron fist.
Animosity toward Qaddafi and his regime was a key factor that united the opposition in a tribally divided nation -where tribes have different interests- in such a way that they carried out a successful revolution.
Now, without the threat of Qaddafi’s return and with the capture of Surt, the Transitional National Council (TNC) must dedicate itself to the task of governing. Balancing the various factions, which at times during the war showed their differences, will require a gargantuan effort.
Today, the gap of interests increases insofar as there is a power struggle in Tripoli between the armed groups of a decentralized nation and the tribal organization. The challenge is enormous and peace is not guaranteed.
NATO’s member nations, which were essential to the regime’s fall, have strong economic interests when it comes to Libya’s political stability.
Surely, European countries will do whatever they can to help the TNC within their own financial constraints. The release of frozen funds abroad will give a brief financial respite to the new Libyan government.
For the Obama administration, Qaddafi’s death is another foreign policy success, which after Osama bin Laden’s death, reaffirms the president’s role in combating terrorism.
Qaddafi was a central figure inside and outside the region for more than 40 years, because of his aspirations as an Arab and African leader, and as someone responsible for international terrorism. His death leaves a vacuum, since he had kept Libya united with his dictatorial style. The rebels already showed they were capable of defeating him. Now, they must show they can also govern the country without him.