Daily Israel Report

Analysis: The Inevitable in Libya Came Sooner than Expected

The end of the Qadaffi regime came sooner than expected but the Western intervention is what made it inevitable. Here is why.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 8/22/2011, 11:09 AM

The way the Civil War ended in Libya provides a good start, but the hard challenge for the rebels is just beginning.

There should be no doubt, however, that without the Western intervention, the results would have been completely different.

Firstly, Western airpower in a country ideally suited for an aerial campaign deprived Moammar Qaddafi's forces of mobility and the ability to concentrate forces. They were compelled to fight from fixed positions, surrendering the initiative to the insurgents.

Secondly, as long as the West could maintain its aerial intervention the best that the Libyan dictator could hope for was a draw because without effective resupply, his forces were doomed to become weaker, while his enemies, nourished increasingly with arms and money, were getting stronger. This created a sense of inevitability.

Countries and governments facing such a situation inevitably crack, unless they retain a hope of outside intervention, as Britain did during the Second World War. 

They will fight on if they are controlled by a fanatical regime whose indoctrinated supporters are determined to fight to the death or if supporters are convinced that the fate that awaits them upon surrender is so terrible that they should persevere in the fighting.

The Libyan intervention was criticized strongly by China and Russia as well as by the African Union. It became, however, increasingly clear that this criticism would not trigger a counter intervention or attempts to break the blockade that was slowly starving the Qaddafi forces.

Again, the topography and geography helped. Libya is not Iraq, bordered by Syria and Iran, which would provided the ability to funnel in supplies and fighters.

Qaddafi may have inspired fear, but not fanatical loyalty, and nobody was going to fight to the death for his ridiculous Green book.

His attempt to belatedly mobilize Islam against the insurgents met with derision and the mosques played a role in the final battle against his regime.

While the regime change will undoubtedly produce winners and losers, this is not like the Syrian situation where the minority Alawites can expect economic and probably physical retribution, to say the least, should the Assad regime fall.

One element that has worked out well is the uprising is the final act in Tripoli and the myth of the popular uprising. This provided the revolution with its historic moment: the insurgents raising the old flag in Green Square, the epicenter of the Qadaffi Regime.

This is in stark contrast to the scene in Baghdad where the American troops, albeit encouraged by Iraqi crowds, toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein from its perch. It would have been wiser had the final scene been left for the Iraqis, just as the Allied forces liberating France in World War II realized that the first troops to enter Paris should be General de Gaulle's Free French forces.

It was also important to give Tripoli its share of the limelight to balance the prominence enjoyed up to now by Benghazi.

Now the hard part begins, with attempting to reunite the country. The fight against Qaddafi served as a glue holding the insurgents together in a country of tribal loyalties. Now that he and his family are effectively out of the picture the tricky task of allocating power and rewards begins.