As Mahmoud Jibril and Abdul Jalil start to move the Transitional National Council from Benghazi to Tripoli, Young Academic Features Editor Robert Gant reports on the challenges that lay ahead for Libya.
Colonel Gaddafi is on the run, hiding he claims somewhere in Libya. The rebels are closing in on the few remaining Gaddafi loyalist held towns. The uprising that started six months earlier is almost complete, with NATO and its bombs playing a substantial role in the collapse of the dictator’s regime.
Once the remaining battles in places like Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte have been fought and the rebels and the TNC control the whole of the country, NATO will no longer be able to influence what happens on the ground in Libya. NATO bombs can only do so much for Libya and her people.
More countries have recognised the TNC as the legitimate government of Libya and offers of aid and money are continuing to arrive from the international community. The challenge now facing the TNC is huge in both size and scope.
Whether it be restoring power and water to large areas of Tripoli, developing and building civil and political structures almost from scratch, collecting and perhaps decommissioning the large amounts of weapons that are in the hands of rebels and civilians all over Libya and indeed just keeping the different factions within the TNC united; the tasks ahead of the new Libyan leadership are daunting.
The speed in which progress is achieved is paramount. Revolutionary populations in Tunisia and Egypt are growing increasingly impatient about the lack of progress after they overthrew their own dictators at the start of the Arab Spring.
Water, power and food distribution remain top priorities for the rebels. With some areas of Tripoli having been without running water for over two weeks the situation is increasingly serious. Once that has been remedied they have to worry about getting the oil rich economy back on its feet, all while looking ahead to free and fair democratic elections. To have said elections they need to create the infrastructure to support a government and all the departments that go with government, made up of independent political parties, covered and held to account by a free press.
After 42 years of total control by one man and his inner circle this will be very difficult to achieve quickly.
Meanwhile they have to find a way of integrating people formerly loyal to Gaddafi into the new institutions they create, or risk an insurgency from tribes and outcasts who remain loyal to the ousted leader.
Analysts have voiced concerns of Libya turning into another Iraq or Somalia, where tribal, religious and political rivalries could lead to violence and the collapse of the fragile TNC. David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, Barak Obama and their NATO generals will be desperate to avoid that scenario occurring in Libya.
It isn’t a simple nor easy assignment faced by the TNC but neither was toppling the Gaddafi regime. Only time will show whether the Libyan people can achieve their dream of creating a free, open and democratic nation.