Giving Libya a new shape after Qaddafi is a Herculean task which needs not only bright brains to draft rules of the game on paper but real spirit of accommodation is needed to bridge deep-running tribal affiliations. Libya is essentially tribal society where people still see clans and tribes as first point of identity and loyalty. In fact, Qaddafi overlooked these tribal divisions and sometimes promoted them so as to rule Libya as consisting of small fiefdoms and himself acting as a suzerain. The tribal fault lines manifested themselves even in the midst of revolution when fighters from Misurata refused to make an onslaught on Tripoli unless rebels from other regions come forward equal to the scale they have. Local councils are up in all parts of Libya which are running day to day administration and gelling together Libyans of all stripes requires an effective and entirely new social contract. A major challenge would be to offset whatever influence of Qaddafi remains in Libya. In Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen security forces have stood by the ousted rulers by offering them soft trials or easy exiles. Latest reports suggest that a security convoy from Libya has crossed over into Algeria in a possible attempt to negotiate a deal to let Qaddafi to stay there in exile. Letting Qaddafi stay in a neighboring country may spark off a sequel of problems for both Algeria and post-Qaddafi Libya. Batiflika regime in Algeria has just survived a popular convulsion and by playing willing host to Qaddafi may provide a fresh blow of wind which could reignite embers of anti-government demonstrations in the country. As for Libya, differences may emerge within the TNC and between the TNC and the security forces on giving a safe passage to Qaddafi. In this way Qaddafi’s ghost would play havoc by complicating the realities of Libya and Algeria too.
Libya is faced with dual task of state building and nation building after Qaddafi’s violent departure. Institutions have to be created anew with a view to serve masses and not looking up to some overpowering figure sitting like an elephantine giant at the top. State building requires technical and financial assistance from abroad and here comes in the role of NATO-led forces, chief among them the US. Cynic perception has to be defeated that western powers have acted on the basis of expediency factor to grab a lion’s share in Libya’s oil wealth. Some cogency of reason validates this perception as proactive backing of pro-democracy elements in Libya stands in sharp contrast to passivity in instances of Yemen and Syria as they are not oil rich and low on the priority list in terms of ulterior security-oriented calculations. The task of nation building is even tougher than state building. It is here that an age-old tribal mindset has to give way to modern democratic spirit of mutual give and take. Institutions can be created on a short notice but attitudes and opinions take time to change. Cognitive imprint has to be brought in working synergy of practical environment to successfully complete the transition in Libya. Roadblocks and setbacks are certain to crop up but the managers and executers of transition have to hold firm to their commitment to reconstruct and rebuild Libya. If they fail, then horrors of civil war and ethnic strife would dwarf the excesses of Qaddafi’s despotic rule. Short term failures in transition must not be allowed to prevent lasting success of democracy. After all the blood spilled and material losses born ought not to go in waste due to narrow and parochial ends of stake holders from all over the length and breadth of the country.