Gadhafi’s Fall ‘Would Give Fresh Impetus’ to Arab Uprisings


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Libyan rebels seem close to toppling Moammar Gadhafi after a six-month struggle that has vindicated the use of NATO bombs to help them, argue German media commentators. The next and perhaps greatest challenge, however, will be establishing democracy in the country.

Moammar Gadhafi’s regime was crumbling on Monday after rebels took control of much of the capital overnight and captured two of his sons. The whereabouts of Libyan dictator remained unknown as of mid-morning.

Some German media commentators say the success of NATO’s bombing campaign has highlighted that Germany’s decision to abstain from the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in March was a mistake.

Commentators are also saying that the fall of Gadhafi will inspire protestors in Syria and Yemen to carry on with their fight. In addition, they argue that showing persistence will ultimately pay off in the region and that the successful, relatively quick revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt weren’t aberrations.

But amid all the relief and satisfaction that Gadhafi’s departure would bring, commentators caution that it will be difficult to convert Libya to democracy. After decades of dictatorship, the country lacks crucial institutions such as a constitutional court or parliament.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“One thing is certain. Without the support of NATO, the Libyan uprising against Gadhafi would have been bloodily crushed. It was worth the deployment of Western weapons. But gaining freedom or at least gaining the ability to take fate into one’s own hands — that is up to the Arab peoples or tribes. It involves making sacrifices, of which they can be rightly proud one day, when the blood-letting is over.”

The left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:

“The strategy was risky but it paid off. The NATO air strikes have helped the rebels succeed against dictator Gadhafi. Who would have thought possible a few months ago?”

“Libya is almost free. But that doesn’t mean that democracy and freedom will immediately take hold here. The Libyan Transitional Council is weak. The state could disintegrate into tribal territories. The decisive phase in the liberation of Libya is only just beginning. The West took responsibility for the fight against Gadhafi, now it must help to set up a democratic state. That is more difficult than running bombing sorties.”

The conservative Die Welt writes:

“The lessons of this crisis include what has been a long-established fact of European geopolitics — namely that the Mediterranean isn’t a dividing moat, and instead represents a cultural, strategic and economic link that can’t be ignored. The failure to realize this was the fundamental mistake of Germany’s abstention when the UN Security Council decided five months ago to launch a combat mission to protect the Libyan population from its tyrant.”

“The fact that Germany, which likes to preach to other peoples on matters of morals, resorted to intrigue and tactics, combining diplomatic incompetence with disloyalty to its allies, will have repercussions for a long time to come.”

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“The fall of Gadhafi, even though it was aided by NATO bombs, would give the uprsings in Syria or Yemen fresh impetus. Even more than the comparatively swift victories in the Tunisia and Egypt, the long six months in Libya prove that endurance pays off in the end, that the toppling of Ben Ali and Mubarak weren’t regional anomalies, that the twilight of the dictators has only just begun.”

Center-left daily Der Tagesspiegel writes:

“One can only hope that the rebels won’t take revenge and massacre those who were loyal to their dictator. It will be difficult enough as it is to create a working democracy. The curious institutions like the People’s Congress and the People’s Committee merely masked the complete absence of working political institutions in the country. Unlike in Tunisia or Egypt, a parliament, constitutional court and a real constitution will have to be set up from scratch. That will require the ability to compromise and to engage in consensus — characteristics that neither side has shown so far. “

— David Crossland


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