Community reacts to events in Libya

Photo by Jerome Delay for The Associated Press

Photo by Jerome Delay for The Associated Press

By: Brooklyn Middleton/Asst. Opinion Editor

Seven months of rebel fighting demanding the end of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime culminated on Aug. 21 as rebel leaders charged Tripoli. However, even with a possible victory, University students and professors expressed doubt.

“It has the potential to be a really, really good thing.  But descent into authoritarianism again is possible,” said Danny Bressner, senior international relations major.

The rebel group, called the National Transitional Council, announced the presidential guard had surrendered. But a Libya without a leader is a concern for Bressner.

“There is a period of euphoria and an opportunity for change may be tangible but who’s going to take Gaddafi’s assets?” Bressner said.

The NTC has emerged as the potential future government of Libya, but their cohesion, credibility and competence remains questionable. While international support for the rebels has been abundant, the NTC suffered a blow to their credibility when they reported their triumphant capture of Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son and most likely successor.

On the morning of Aug. 23 al-Islam arrived at a popular tourist hotel in Tripoli, where he interviewed with journalists, stating, “We are here. This is our country. This is our people, and we live here, and we die here. And we are going to win, because the people are with us. That’s why we’re are going to win. Look at them – look at them, in the streets, everywhere!”

When reporters inquired about his arrest, he  responded, “We are going to break the backbone of the rebels.”

Events like this leave a level of general uncertainty about NTC’s possible role in Libya.

“And the people in the NTC, no one really knows these figures [people]. They’re academics and people in exile. None of them have really managed a country before,” said Bressner.

The 40-year Gaddafi regime began to crumble in February when Libyan people began to demand a  change to democracy. Protests were met by acts of immense violence ordered by Gaddafi.

“There is a lot of push for democratic change because of the Middle East youth bulge,” said Francisco Zamora, junior international relations major. “I hope it doesn’t lead to another Gaddafi.”

Despite tremors of embarrassment and uncertainty, the NTC soldiered on to continue garnering support. Part of this success was because of the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In an interview with Student Media, Ronald Cox, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Politics and International Relations department, discussed the role of NATO in the revolution.

“NATO went well beyond what it was authorized to do. There was essentially 8,000 bombs dropped by NATO and various forces by NATO countries, all designed to help rebels come to power. The mandate was to help civilians, that’s it. They’ve clearly gone beyond the mandate.”

Cox pointed out that NATO played such an integral role in this revolution that it could this affect how much the West shapes future governments.

“I can’t say I’m surprised by the fact that the media hasn’t asked tougher questions but sometimes they operate more as cheerleaders than journalists,” Cox said.

Despite the fact that the rebels’ flag is being flown in Tripoli, it continues to remain unclear whether the NTC has sustainable control of Libya. However, students continue to express hope for democracy.

“I am more optimistic than pessimistic not just for democratic change in Libya but in the entire Middle East,” Zamora said.

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