Ensure peace in Libya
Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 16:08
The battle within Libya has reached a critical tipping point. According to a recent report from the New York Times, the rebels have now stormed the compound of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, crashing through the gates and claiming stockpiles of weapons left by Qaddafi loyalists.
Qaddafi has been marginalized and his more than 40-year regime appears to be headed to an end. The United States, along with Britain, have recognized the Libyan Transitional National Council as Libya's legitimate government, and President Barack Obama has made it clear that the U.S. will continue to support this new government as it moves forward.
The U.S. must continue its current approach toward Libya and act in concert with other countries involved in this effort. The U.S. will have to tread carefully to ensure that this new government is successful, as sectarian divisions have the potential of creating problems, according to Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, who was quoted in the Times.
"They are basically starting from scratch," Cook said. "Now will really be the test for the United States, because there are a lot of centrifugal forces that could pull this apart."
One of the important lessons of the Iraq war was that all stakeholders must have a say in the forming of the new government, or they could turn to violence. Ensuring unity and fairness in Libya will be critical to the success of this country as it looks to rebuild.
Any assistance provided to the Libyan Transitional National Council must have an international face on it. It needs to be clear that the effort to help this new council is an international one. To this end, all nations will have to contribute equally in terms of training for police forces to keep the peace once an end to this conflict is officially declared.
The new government will have to be inclusive and do its best to address the concerns of all the parties that will have a stake in its efforts. The primary goal should be to ensure order and stability. Basic functions like making sure that the electricity is turned on and that children are able to get to school safely should be the primary concerns of the new government at this point. Decisions such as how to share revenues will have to involve all parties within Libya. Failure to deliver on reconciliation and justice could cause Qaddafi loyalists to fight on, which will undermine the new government and potentially lead to its demise.
More countries also need to step up to the plate and recognize the rebel government as the legitimate ruling power in Libya. On Tuesday, Oman, Bahrain and Iraq formally recognized the rebel forces as the official government, and they will need the assistance of these and other countries in order to maintain legitimacy and transition smoothly to a new government.
Qaddafi must be arrested and sent to the International Criminal Court to receive justice for his actions. He is responsible for many crimes against humanity, and the details of his acts must see the light of day and be brought to justice in open court.
The people of Libya are at a critical turning point. Now is the time for the world to continue to support them in their efforts to put a final end to a brutal regime and replace it with a stable and legitimate government. In time, Libya may even prove to be a strong ally that can have an important presence on the world stage. We must continue to support the cause of the Libyan Transitional National Council.