As the rebel movement in Libya gains further ground in Tripoli, thoughts are turning to how a post-Gaddafi Libya will be governed.
Although concern exists that the country will descend into a second Iraq, commentators been careful to stress that the Libyan context is quite different. Opposition leaders who are poised to lead the new Libya largely come from Gaddafi's inner ranks, including the probable new head of state Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who until last February was Gaddafi's Minister of Justice, and Mahmoud Gebril, a U.S.-trained economist who led Libya's National Economic Development Council until he defected last February and who could be the new Prime Minister.
As a result, old elements of the former regime will remain, meaning the so-called de-Baathification process implemented by U.S. officials in Iraq that purged the new government of all elements of Saddam's ruling party, will not occur.
However, there are still reasons to be cautious about Libya's future, and the events of the past hours and days have raised question marks over the competence and reliability of the coalition of rebels.
The announcement by the rebel Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) that it had captured Gaddafi's second son, Saif al-Islam is a case in point. An announcement that the heir of Gaddafi was captured, only for him to appear bragging before international journalists hours later – hardly built confidence in the group that claimed to be Libya's alternative government and had even begun negotiations with the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court for Saif al-Islam's transfer to The Hague.
Report: After Tyranny: How Can Libya Avoid the Fate of Iraq? (TIME, 22 August 2011)
Report: Recognition for rebels but fight 'not over' (Al Jazeera, 23 August 2011)
Globally, President Obama warned of the “huge challenges” ahead for the opposition alliance, even as he hailed the apparent end of Gaddafi’s rule, and separately took steps to free up some of the nearly $30 billion in frozen Libyan government assets held in accounts controlled by U.S. banks and investment houses. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has called for support from European and Middle Eastern countries on ways to coordinate wider financial and practical support.
The Arab League, on its part, released a statement on Monday, officially recognising the National Transitional Council for the first time. They offered their full solidarity and pledged cooperation with the leadership of the NTC," the Cairo-based League said.
China also joined in the congratulatory statements, saying that it respected the Libyan people's choice in attempting to oust Gaddafi's regime.
"We have noticed recent changes in the Libyan situation and we respect the Libyan people's choice," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement.
The international community is anxious to ensure lessons have been learned from post-conflict Iraq. Molly Tarhuni, a Libyan-British academic who has advised the rebel National Transitional Council in Benghazi since February, is hopeful that this is the case.
"The specter of Iraq has been raised by a lot of people," she says. "There is a solid awareness of the lessons learned by Iraq in Libya by Libyans."
Report: U.S. presses Libyan rebels to preserve order (Washington Post, 23 August 2011)
Report: When smoke clears, rebels must become nation-builders (The Independent, 24 August 2011)