August 22, 2011 | The Arena, Politico

President Obama Vindicated on Libya?

August 22, 2011 | The Arena, Politico

President Obama Vindicated on Libya?

President Obama will certainly appear vindicated by the news that Tripoli has fallen. Libyans have even more reason to celebrate, now that the long war against Muammar Qadhafi appears to be nearing its end. But a bigger battle – an internecine one – may still be looming.

Qadhafi exploited tribal hatreds in Libya for four decades. He also robbed the country of any semblance of civil society. Now, after months of fighting, the country is awash with weapons.

There should also be concerns about the ideology that will ultimately characterize the new Libya, when the guns have gone quiet. Qadhafi's Green Book, a bizarre amalgam of socialism and Islam, was the ideology he imposed on Libya. Nobody there ever embraced it, but other ideologies were effectively banned. With Qadhafi’s ouster, we open Pandora's Box.

This ideological vacuum could open the door for the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and other jihadi clusters. Qaddafi brutalized the LIFG (with U.S. assistance), killing many, and putting many others in jail or through a de-radicalization program. Now, virtually all of them are back on the streets. We know that many have joined the rebels.

There are some indications that the jihadists are strong among the fighters. But are they strong in Libya's Transitional National Council? The world will soon find out.

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Issues:

Libya