Libya Post-Gadhafi: Now What?

Tribal society faces barriers to unification
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2011 10:30 AM CDT
Libya After Moammar Gadhafi: Can Democracy Work?
A man waves a golden pistol he says belonged to Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte, Libya, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011.   (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

(Newser) – Libya is finally getting a shot at democracy—but experts expect growing pains as a divided tribal society makes the shift from decades of authoritarianism. Historically, such transitions have not gone well, political scientists tell the Christian Science Monitor. “We would actually feel fairly pessimistic about the prospects for this [transition] to be successful and stable,” notes a professor who has examined 41 such transitions around the world. "The more diverse the society, the less stable these new regimes tend to be."

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In taking power, Moammar Gadhafi joined together three provinces and a vast number of tribes, forging a single nation “around his own bizarre cult of personality,” David Kirkpatrick writes in the New York Times. “What knit them together was a kind of morbid fascination with Gadhafi,” says a political scientist. “They don’t have a credible institution in the entire country.” But the fact that Libya’s uprising grew internally is a mark in its favor. "One area of optimism would be that Libya is not Iraq and Afghanistan, where the change in regimes was imposed by an outside power," says the professor. (Read more Libya stories.)

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