Posted by: mulrickillion | September 23, 2011

The Arab Spring After Libya


By Mark Taylor – Sept 20, 2011 —, Sept 20, 2011


The outcome of the Libyan conflict leaves the Arab world’s wider political momentum to be decided by the interplay between mobilisation and repression.


In Libya, the worst has been avoided. For now. The possibility of a protracted insurgency against an entrenched Gaddafi regime has been swept aside by an uprising (again) in Tripoli and a speedy advance by Nato-assisted rebels (see Martin Shaw, " The revolution-intervention dynamic", 5 September 2011).

This was never a foregone conclusion. Nato air-power alone was not capable of deposing Gaddafi and has limited usefulness in protecting civilians, both because precision-bombing often isn’t (too often poorly targeted) and because it can do little to prevent the all-too-familiar atrocities by local thugs with guns.

The risks of a longer, Iraq-style stalemate and quagmire were always real: the coastal to-and-fro which dominated much of the first months of fighting, and the push earlier this summer for the insertion of foreign troops, was evidence that the proverbial quagmire was lurking just over the horizon (see Paul Rogers, " Libya and a decade’s war", 1 April 2011).

The Libyan endgame

Libyans will be breathing a sigh of relief, as (for different reasons) will David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama. The former because the violence may now be in its last stages, the latter because the gamble that limited intervention could protect people and topple a dictator appears for once to have paid off.

That is a momentum which needs backing, since getting the gun out of politics is a necessary first step in making democracy possible (see " Libya’s challenge: democracy under the gun", 1 April 2011). Political violence – by state forces, rebels, foreigners like Nato – demobilises mass movements. Early on in Libya, violence swept away any talk of a political strategy to advance the original demands of the rebellion.

Yet the violence continues, as Gaddafi loyalists fight to hold the towns of Bani Walid and Sirte. The decisions about the use of force in the Libyan denouement will decide much about the country’s immediate future: the new government must choose between pursuing a military campaign in the hunt for Gaddafi or negotiating a deal with his remaining fighters to end the violence. And having armed lots of young men, will the new government be up to the challenge of decommissioning the weapons?. . . .

The Arab Spring After Libya – Geopolitical Monitor


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