Sunday 21 January 2018

End of Gaddafi but hard work is just beginning

Libya's provisional rulers have to rescue the oil and gas industry, set up political parties and smooth over tribal rivalries, says Michael Burleigh

By the end, every trick in the dictator's playbook had failed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. After 42 years in power, the regime crumbled before his eyes. The best guesses are that he is hiding in tunnels beneath his Tripoli compound, or has already fled -- most believe to Algeria, others say South Africa or Venezuela.

His indiscriminate use of artillery and air power against Benghazi did not stop north eastern Libya becoming a formidable redoubt, from which opposition forces launched attacks against the coastal cities, while from the Nefusa Mountains other rebel forces swept down on Tripoli, forming the other arm of the vice.

Hiring African mercenaries, or dispensing huge sums of cash to any Libyans prepared to fight for him did not do the trick either. In the end, his highly westernised playboy son, Saif al Islam, was reduced to growing a beard and fingering prayer beads on TV, in a desperate attempt to win over the same Islamist groups he had earlier associated with al-Qa'ida -- anything in order to survive.

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