Libya One Year After Qaddafi

Claire Schachter on the year Libya has had and the challenges it still faces.
By: /
October 18, 2012

October 20 marks the one-year anniversary of Muammar Qaddafi’s death. How has Libya changed since the toppling of Qaddafi's regime?

As the September 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi made clear, Libya remains very unstable. But has the worst of the political upheaval and violence now past?

There are those who argue that, despite the severity of the attack and the government’s inability to control the country’s militias, Libya is making good progress.

 Serious obstacles may still lie ahead.

Since the attack, Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur was dismissed in a vote of non-confidence after serving less than a month. Libya’s National Assembly then elected Ali Zidan, a former diplomat and outspoken critic of Qaddafi, as the country’s new prime minister a week later. The Daily Beast examines Zidan’s immediate challenges, which include forming a government and continuing the investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate.

A major security challenge that the Libyan government must address is the myriad of armed militias. You can find Time’s video on Libya’s transitional council’s attempt to rid the country of its weapon stockpiles here.

How Libya should deal with those tied to the old regime presents another serious challenge: the fate of Qaddafi’s son, and current detainee, Saif al-Islam, is still uncertain; arguments continue on whether he should be tried in Libya or in the Hague.

Whether Libyans are prepared to hold Qaddafi’s enemies accountable is also unclear. On October 17, Human Rights Watch released a 58-page report on the circumstances surrounding Qaddafi’s death. The report calls for Libyan civilian and military authorities to investigate any violations of international humanitarian law.

The world may be taking this anniversary as an opportunity to weigh in on Libya’s progress, but the global spotlight shines on this member of the Arab Spring only intermittently. Public interest waned as the American-led intervention ended, even as crises quickly emerged on a number of fronts. These issues were explored by the Cato Institute’s Project on Middle East Democracy’s event, “Libya One Year Later”. You can watch the event here.

So while some highlight progress and others fear for the future, a year after Qaddafi’s death, there is a growing consensus. It is nicely summed up by Horace Campbell, Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University: “A Year Later, The War in Libya is Far from Over.”

*For a crowdsourced analysis of the country since the overthrow of Qaddafi’s regime, check out Crowdvoice’s interactive timeline.

Photo courtesy of Reuters