Editorial - Libyan impasse - Monday, March 07, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=34837&Cat=8

What began as a revolt in the east of the country quickly spread westwards, eventually to encircle Tripoli and Col Qaddafi’s birthplace, Sirte. As the days pass it becomes clear that what Libya may be moving towards is civil war rather than revolt in the fashion of Tunisia and Egypt. And Col Qaddafi, well-armed and with the air force in action is showing no sign of an early climb-down. The rebels to the east are not well-equipped and their military strength is with army units that have switched sides. They have no air assets and, beyond a squadron of elderly tanks, not much by way of armour either. What they do have, particularly in Benghazi, is an emerging model of governance based around the “committees” that ruled before, but with different men and women at their heads and with very different agendas. It is far too early to say that the Qaddafi regime is at an end, and he clearly still commands support within his tribal powerbase, but the stage is now set for prolonged, and perhaps bloody, conflict.

As the Libyans play out their destinies it is possible to see that the Arab world is at very different stages in terms of the emerging revolts – most of which hinge around the common factors of anger at long-entrenched autocratic regimes, political disenfranchisement and a burgeoning youth population that wants jobs and a curb on corruption. There are even ripples of discontent within Saudi Arabia, which the BBC reported on Saturday was moving security forces to the north-east to counter any sectarian unrest that may spill over from neighbouring Bahrain. Egypt and Tunisia are still in a painful change-process, and other states have introduced – where they can afford to and not all can – hasty fiscal measures designed to buy the quiescence of their restive peoples. It may take as long as a generation for the changes that began last December to work themselves through. But whatever happens, the status quo that has prevailed for the last half century in the Arab world is gone. The certainties on which the politics of oil were predicated are crumbling by the week and major powers, supporters and beneficiaries of despotic regimes are going to have to do a rapid rethink as the Faustian pact they made with the oil producers of the Arab world unravels.

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