By Matthew Bacon
Last week, the people of Libya and lovers of freedom around the world rejoiced at the death of Moammar Gaddafi, the once dictator of Libya. After 42 years of rule, Gaddafi was caught fleeing his last stronghold of Sirte on Thursday, and his regime is officially no more. The people of Libya must now exchange their guns for ballots, and begin the process of building a new government and restoring their war torn nation. With NATO planning to end all military action in Libya by October 31st, is the National Transitional Council ready to step up and lead Libya into an era of peace and prosperity? Only the future can tell us, but there are a few red flags that sprung up regarding the NTC as of late.
The first and most important thing that the United States government needs to look out for is weapons. As most dictators do, Gaddafi had large arsenals of high tech weapons around the country, including a facility with yellowcake uranium. Reporters from Libya have stated that the NTC does not have the manpower to properly guard all of these weapons caches. The site with yellowcake uranium is supposedly guarded by a couple of college-aged men. This can end very badly for the U.S. seeing as many unstable countries in the Arab world become havens for terrorists groups like al-Qaeda and its affiliates. If a terrorist organization were to get their hands on something like a heat-seeking missile, they can strike us with devastating attacks.
Another issue to look out for with the NTC is human rights abuses. A human rights watchdog organization reported that it found 53 bodies of Gaddafi supporters, bound and killed execution style, in a Libyan hotel last week. An additional ten were found near the battle site where Gaddafi was captured. Not only that, but Gaddafi himself died under mysterious circumstances. He was captured outside of the city of Sirte, where there is video of him clearly alive being led away to a vehicle. He had a gunshot wound on the arm and a bleeding head wound most likely delivered by a blunt object. But two hours later, upon his arrival at a hospital in the city of Mistrata, he was dead, with a gunshot wound straight to his temple. The NTC has claimed that although Gaddafi died while in their custody, they did not execute him. Regardless of whether or not you believe the NTC, or whether or not you think that killing him while in custody is just, it must be admitted that this entire scenario reflects badly on the NTC. If they were ordered by high authority within the NTC, then it is a disturbing sign that this new movement may be just as bad as Gaddafi. And if the killings were not ordered, they show a lack of communication and control within the organization. If the NTC cannot control their own soldiers, how can they control a country?
There are several paths that the new Libya can take. It can become a democracy, like America, and serve as an example for the other Middle Eastern countries currently struggling to find their identities. A charismatic leader, like Gaddafi, could rise to power and return the country to its former state. Libya could even collapse during the transitional phase, like Somalia in the 1990’s, and become a lawless land where multiple factions, including terrorist organizations, duke it out for supremacy. The fate of Libya, for the first time in almost 50 years, is in the hands of its people. Only time will tell how they will handle it.