Libya Marks The End Of Gadhafi
First it was neighboring Tunisia and then Egypt. Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi never imagined that the Arab Spring would knock on his country's doors. A country he had ruled with an iron fist for the past 42 years. But knock it did -- and just two days after Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak had been forced to relinquish power.
Now, nine months after the start of the revolution, Libya has declared October 23rd Liberation Day. Gadhafi who had declared in his speeches that he would die a martyr, was killed three days earlier in a crossfire between his supporters and the rebel national forces who had taken upon themselves the task of liberating Libya. While there are mixed messages about how exactly Gadhafi died, one thing is for certain -- Libyans are relieved and want to move on.
Libyan revolution - A timeline
The North African country's troubles began in February of this year. A small protest in the Libyan town of Benghazi on February 15 was quickly suppressed by Gadhafi's forces. The rebels gathered momentum and captured the town of Benghazi. But Gadhafi was not one to relent -- he mounted an attack and an offense against his people from the air and the ground. Cities were captured, lost and re-captured. It was a regular civil war.
The United Nations came to Libyans rescue by authorizing the creation of a no-fly zone -- this meant Libya could not use its air force within its own airspace. They also authorized the NATO coalition led by France and Britain to protect Libyan citizens from attacks by Gadhafi's forces. While NATO supported the rebels and guided them, the hard work of liberating Libya was upto Libyans.
With capture of the capital Tripoli on August 21, the rebels were starting to taste victory. Gadhafi retreated to his hometown of Sirte where the last batte took place. Meanwhile, Gadhafi family members have sought refuge in neighboring Algeria.
With the fall of Tripoli, the rebel led National Transition Council (NTC) has taken over the reins of the country. On October 23, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the leader of NTC stood in the square in the city of Benghazi -- the very same square where the first protest took place nine months ago, to proclaim that Libya was finally liberated. NATO will be suspending all operations in Libya by the end of October.
Jalil will be stepping down as the NTC leader, and the council has promised elections next year. The neighboring country of Tunisia is going through its first historic elections, but Egypt's future is still uncertain. For Libya, an oil-rich country, many struggles lie ahead. First, the rebels needs to be disarmed. Secondly, the NTC itself has a lot of infighting -- between so-called liberals and conservative Islamists, on how best to take the country forward. Above all, the interim government need to start governing.
Revolutions are glamorous, but rebuilding is hard especially in a country like Libya where the people have had no say for 42 years. The future is uncertain -- will Libyans surprise the world, or will chaos continue to reign? Only time will tell.