Now comes the hard part: ordering the post-Khadaffy Libya. George Grant, writing in the WSJ describes how many of the new faces will actually be old faces: “the rebels’ strategy has been to encourage a collapse of the regime from within, or at least a popular uprising in Tripoli itself that will force Colonel Gadhafi from power. Various media outlets were reporting yesterday that this uprising has now begun.”
The strategy can and probably will work, but the rebels will need to make real compromises. They will have to assure those forces still loyal to Gadhafi that if they defect, they will be safe. This is not only key to bringing about Gadhafi’s downfall, but also to securing the peace afterwards. As British Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said in June, “One of the first things that should happen once Tripoli falls is that someone should get on the phone to the former Tripoli chief of police and tell him he’s got a job and he needs to ensure the safety and security of the people of Tripoli.”
Though some within the rebel ranks would like to see all vestiges of Gadhafi’s regime swept aside, leaders of the National Transitional Council in Benghazi are more pragmatic and are already working to prevent a security vaccuum. Their blueprint for a post-Gadhafi Libya, which was leaked to the Times of London this month, shows that the council has quietly recruited some 800 regime security officials, who are ready to form the backbone of a new government-security apparatus once Gadhafi falls. Likewise, the council plans to transfer some 5,000 policemen serving in units not ideologically committed to Gadhafi to the new government’s forces. Many other regime figures, exhausted and frightened, aren’t even seeking to hang on to power, but only want safety for themselves and their families.
Dealing with the old faces is no doubt necessary. But to what extent will the post-Khadaffy environment be different from the old? And in what direction is the change? It will be interesting to see how Western policy has shaped the political goals of the rebels. Will it consist mostly of Islamists riding on NATO’s coat-tails? Or will this be the genuine harbinger of such democracy as is possible in the Middle East?
Meanwhile, in other developments, Egypt continues to be in crisis with Israel as the IDF strikes back against those who attacked it recently. Assad continues to fight the ongoing challenge to his power. Bahrain released a top medical professional who led a protest movement against the government. In Yemen, al-Qaeda struck against tribesmen opposed to them.