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Protesters tear a copy of the Green Book as they chant antigovernment slogans in the main square in Tobruk on Feb. 22, 2011. (ASMAA WAGUIH/Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)
Protesters tear a copy of the Green Book as they chant antigovernment slogans in the main square in Tobruk on Feb. 22, 2011. (ASMAA WAGUIH/Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

Globe editorial

Libya as potential failed state Add to ...

The international community should face the prospect of anarchy in Libya. The end of Moammar Gadhafi's rule is highly desirable, but no alternative government has emerged. If the result is a failed state, or a prolonged civil war, that could be an opportunity for jihadists.

There is no reason to believe that the opposition to Col. Gadhafi is composed of religious fanatics to a significant extent, or, as the colonel claims, that Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are behind the opposition; the risk is rather that in a power vacuum a group of determined terrorists could start to loom large, comparably to Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

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At present, committees of ordinary citizens are trying to keep some Libyan cities functioning. And a convention of the country's tribes could choose a new government - if they can only form a consensus.

Libya is quite unlike Egypt, where the military has shown its willingness to act firmly and coherently, and where there are some political parties, weak and intimidated by decades of dictatorship as they may be. Libya has no such parties at all, and the armed forces appear to be fragmenting.

Contingency plans should be developed for intervention to restore order - not by European powers with a history of imperialism, but by organizations such as the African Union or the Arab League. Libya may yet reconstitute itself, but the international community must prepare itself to prevent chaos, if need be.

 

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