A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 29, 2011

Libya: Moving on Sirte

I'm back from vacation, and MEI having survived an earthquake and a hurricane, am back at work. Besides missing the earthquake and the hurricane, I only commented briefly last week on the dramatic events surrounding the fall of Tripoli. But with Qadhafi's whereabouts still unknown and pro-regime forces entrenched in his home town of Sirte, it's beginning to look as if Sirte, not the capital, may be the Last Act, or nearly so, of this drama.

The rebels, quite rightly I think, know they haven't really consolidated their victory until they take Sirte and the oases, but particularly Sirte, which threatens the linkage between rebel forces in the east and west. The enthusiasm of looting Qadhafi's residences and uncovering secrets should not distract from the fa ct that the war goes on, or the memory that the fall of Saddam Hussein was the beginning, not the end, of a long insurg4nt war in Iraq.Qadhafi is probably finished, but all the tribal,regional, secular/religious, and other fissures dividing the rebels may become more pronounced once the common enemy is removed. But even for that, they'll need to take Sirte.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

A real challenge for the new Libyan government will be to treat the people in central, southern and parts of western Libya well enough so they do not view the Qadhafi period with nostalgia. The lot of these mostly ill educated country and village folk improved immensely since 1969, in terms of housing, electricity, water systems, schools, medical clinics and jobs, jobs, jobs for their young men and, increasingly, women. Rightly or wrongly, they felt neglected under the monarchy and snubbed by the urban elites, and they credited Qadhafi with their improved lot.