A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Happens if Qadhafi Wins?

As the Libyan government juggernaut moves eastward, apparently willing to use the full weight of modern arms against Libyan citizens, other autocratic regimes will no doubt be watching. This could still result in a long civil war, but events of the past few days suggest that we cannot completely rule olut the possibility that Qadhafi will crush the opposition with as much ruthlessness as Saddam used against the Shi‘ite and, until Western intervention, Kurdish revolts in 1991 (or as Syria did in Hama in 1982). Should that happen, many of his fellow autocrats may decide that Tunisia and Egypt were exceptions, and that the old methods still work, despite Twitter, YouTube and Al Jazeera. But I'm not abandoning hope yet.


The Familiar Strange said...

I don't think he has it in him. His remaining forces may be the best-trained and the best equipped, but they're numerically inferior and I don't think he has the support infrastructure for a drawn-out campaign.


David Mack said...

Agree that Qadhafi will not win back control over Libya, but do not look for a quick ending. This will take time, and it will probably be bloody. No silver bullet is available to international community, and rebel military has courage and enthusiasm but is only an armed mob.

NFZ does not address real problem, although it may be a small part of the answer. Rebels have real motivation to fight for eastern Libya, and this must be priority. One hopeful possibility already rumored is for Egyptian trainers to develop rebel units with anti-tank capacity. At that point it would make sense to provide them with modern anti-tank weapons so they can defend approaches to Benghazi. Without the training, you would only be turning an armed mob into a better armed mob, not an effective defense force.

Offensive against Qadhafi's strongholds in center and west of the country is an even bigger step, best deferred for now.