As it really seems seems Gaddafi’s regime is finished will the chairman of the NTC Mustafa Abdul Jalil lead the country?
1. How would you evaluate the role of NATO led intervention in Libya?
2. Do you think the current chairman of the NTC Mustafa Abdul Jalil is a figure who can lead the country, what are his strongest assets and what about his weaknesses?
Daniel Serwer, Senior Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies, John Hopkins University
1. The NATO air intervention was vital to the military campaign against Gaddafi, but the Libyans deserve credit for what they did on the ground. Gaddafi would not have fallen except for the combination of the two.
2. I’m not certain Jalil wants to lead the country. His ambition at the moment appears to be limited to guiding it through the transition. He is respected by many Libyans for his resignation from the Gaddafi regime, but of course that makes him a traitor in the eyes of Gaddafi loyalists. It seems to me he has been saying the right things. The big question is whether he and the Transitional National Council he leads can reestablish law and order and proceed with the political transition.
Scott Hibbard, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, DePaul University
1. Yes, the Gaddafi regime is finished. There will remain pockets of opposition, and these may be able to hold out longer than most expect, but the regime has lost its support and much of its revenue, so it is only a matter of time. As for NATO’s role, it was central. The NATO air support helped to neutralize the Gaddafi regime’s advantages over the rebels in terms of weaponry, armor and air power. Add to this NATO training and support, and one can see how central NATO was to the success of the rebels.
2. As for the current head of the NTC, it remains to be seen what kind of a leader he will be. As in Egypt, the opposition is held together by their common animosity to the leader. Once the government falls – and the leadership removed – then the latent divisions within the opposition emerge. I think that is what is coming next as the NTC moves to form a new government. There will be tribal differences, ideological differences and competing interests. It remains to be seen how effective Mr. Jalil and the other leaders of the NTC are in navigate this difficult path.
Wayne White, Policy Expert, Washington’s Middle East Policy Council
1. I believe NATO behaved admirably providing enough support—and with two European members (not the US) in the lead—for the Libyan opposition in both the east and the west to not only survive, but take down, this tyrannical regime. Whenever lots of military air support is involved in the form of strikes, a few mistakes are inevitable. On the whole, however, US, British, French and other NATO aircrew, reconnaissance and aerial support personnel performed admirably. The opposition knows that fighting back successfully against such a well-armed and bloodthirsty regime would have been impossible without NATO’s strong support.
2. It is doubtful that the Transitional National Council (TNC) will remain as it is now. With most all the military victories that took down the bulk of Qadhafi’s regime won by the less well-equipped and long more isolated rebel forces in the west (while eastern rebel forces remained bogged down in the general vicinity of Brega for months), opposition elements in western Libya most likely will demand a more substantial slice of the political pie when power is assigned following the final collapse of the Qadhafi regime. Additionally, for many Libyans once the country is fully liberated from Qadhafi’s grip, Mr. Jalil may prove to have been too much a part of the old regime to be entrusted with the leadership of their countries progress beyond the Qadhafi era.
James Denselow, Writer on Middle East politics and security issues
1. NATO have played a critical role in the seeming defeat of the Gaddafi regime. They have essentially acted as the rebels air force and have taken out Gaddafi’s heavy weapons allowing what was initially a very poorly organised rebel force the space to advance on Tripoli. An important element to NATO’s success was its careful targeting which resulted in few civilian casualties which would have been huge propaganda coups for Gaddafi and could have lost the rebels legitimacy amongst ordinary Libyans.
2. The NTC’s greatest strength is its promise that its members do not seek to rule over Libya but rather wish to create the conditions for a peaceful democratic transition. That said their greatest weakness is that the unity achieved in the fight against Gaddafi may be lost once he is truly toppled. The splits – both geographic and tribal – between elements of the rebel forces highlighted were by the death of rebel army commander Abdel Fattah Younes.