Putting the Death of Moammar Gadhafi Into Context

October 20, 2011

The death of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is eliciting passionate reaction – in the Arab World and elsewhere. Nicholas R. Burns, the Sultan of Oman Professor of the Practice of International Relations and former U.S. undersecretary of state, calls it a “decisive event,” while also imploring the international community to “act quickly to provide the essential outside support that will help to jumpstart the new government.”

“The challenges ahead will be extraordinarily difficult,” Burns writes on the Belfer Center’s Power & Policy blog. “Tribal divisions, encouraged by Gadhafi’s cynical rule, will not be easily resolved. Restarting oil production, opening up the Mediterranean ports and rushing humanitarian aid to the displaced will be immediate priorities.”

Juliette Kayyem, lecturer in public policy and former assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security credits the NATO effort in Libya for bringing down the Gadhafi regime, although she says the mission is a “case study of ONE.” She remarks that, “It had a perfect combination of indigenous uprising so that NATO and other powers would not be the face of the mission; more importantly though, Gadhafi had no backers, no friends, no country invested in his leadership.”

“As the Libyan revolutionaries celebrate, the impact of their victory on the region should not be ignored,” said Ashraf Hegazy, executive director, Dubai Initiative. “In Yemen especially, this outcome will serve to reinvigorate the unaligned youth who had started the Yemeni revolution and who had recently ceded the fight to more entrenched political elite. Gadhafi’s death sends a strong message to both them and to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh that the execution of a dictator is really a possible outcome of a popular Arab revolution.”

Where Libya goes from here is anyone’s guess, although President Obama expressed his support for the Libyan people at the White House today (Oct. 20) saying they “now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya.”

Other articles you might find interesting:

The Gamble in Libya

Will Libya become Obama’s Iraq?

For Libya, ‘No Compromise’ In Sight

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Nicholas R. Burns

Nicholas R. Burns, the Sultan of Oman Professor of the Practice of International Relations

“The challenges ahead will be extraordinarily difficult,” said Burns.

Juliette Kayyem, lecturer in public policy

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