Executive Director, Dubai Initiative, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The death of Muammar Gadhafi, as well as that of his son and his closest advisor, in addition to the fall of Sirte, allows the Transitional National Council to declare Libya’s freedom. However, it does not guarantee a peaceful transition any more than Saddam’s capture did in Iraq. The tough work of nation building and the creation of an inclusive political system will now begin. And while analysts have been concerned about the divisions that have recently emerged within the TNC, those divisions are a sign that the TNC is a truly diverse institution, bringing together a wide coalition of ideologies and interests. That is as good a start for the establishment of a democratic system as we can hope for.
As the Libyan revolutionaries celebrate, the impact of their victory on the region should not be ignored. In Yemen especially, this outcome will serve to reinvigorate the unaligned youth who had started the Yemeni revolution and who had recently ceded the fight to more entrenched political elite.Ghadafi’s death sends a strong message to both them and to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh that the execution of a dictator is really a possible outcome of a popular Arab revolution. Saleh may now reconsider the attractiveness of the self-exile option that was chosen by Tunisia’s Ben Ali and was presented to Saleh on a golden platter. A resurgent youth effort now may lead to that option getting taken off the table, increasing the risk for Saleh to meet Ghadafi’s fate rather than that of Ben Ali.