Libya's Terra Incognita: Who and What Will Follow Qaddafi?

commentary

Feb 28, 2011

This commentary originally appeared on Foreign Affairs on February 28, 2011.

After Libyans, and much of the civilized world, rejoice in the seemingly inevitable fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi, the country will face the difficult task of repairing a society long traumatized by the Middle East's most Orwellian regime. Libya lacks both legitimate formal institutions and a functioning civil society. The new, post-Qaddafi era, therefore, is likely to be marked by the emergence of long-suppressed domestic groups jostling for supremacy in what is sure to be a chaotic political scene.

For four decades, Libya has been largely terra incognita, a place where the outsized personality of its quixotic leader and a byzantine bureaucracy obscured an informal network of constantly shifting power brokers. Even before the current unrest, working with these figures was uncertain at best—"like throwing darts at balloons in a dark room," as one senior Western diplomat put it to me in 2009....

The remainder of this commentary is available on foreignaffairs.com.


Frederic Wehrey is a Senior Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. He recently returned from Libya.

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