The demise of Moammar Gadhafi has the world waiting to see what type of government Libya’s rebel coalition comes up with.
It may not be pretty.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Walter Huffman, professor and dean emeritus in the Texas Tech School of Law, thinks it could be anything from democracy to an Islamic theocracy.
Given the latter, Huffman said, such a theocracy could be modeled after one like that of Iran.
“Ostensibly, there is a president who’s elected by the people, but the real ruler is the head of the religious authority,” he said. “Those religious authorities in that part of the world have not been so far very amenable to Western interests and United States’ interests especially.”
There is some chance a less radical government could emerge.
“What we are looking for is a real democracy,” Huffman said.
A tribal loyalty, as opposed to one of nation, also could introduce a third dynamic and make true democracy less likely.
Richard Rosen, a retired Army colonel, professor of law and director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Tech, also is watching events unfold after the death of Gadhafi.
Rosen said he thinks the U.S. attempted something similar in the 1980s after the Berlin disco bombing when President Ronald Reagan sent F-111s to bomb Gadhafi’s residence.
“The big question now, is what are we going to get?,” Rosen said. “I read the news reports, and I’m not sure who the rebel leaders are. I’m not sure what their affiliations are. And I’m sure they represent a diverse group of people, or at least ideologies.”
The bottom line rests in the challenges facing the Libyan people, Huffman said, and facing the rest of the world.
“Libya is an important country for a number of different reasons: Its location; its vast oil resources,” he said.
Although the rest of the world watches carefully what happens in the North African nation of more than 6.5 million, it’s more important to the Libyans.
“They paid the price in blood for this new government that they are going to get — whatever that is. So they should be the ones who decide. But from our standpoint, we hope it is a true democracy,” Huffman said.
More toward the practical, Gadhafi’s death and regional instability that could follow might result in higher gas prices for those living in the U.S. said Tibor Nagy.
Nagy served as the U.S. ambassador to Guinea from 1996 until 1999 and ambassador to Ethiopia from 1000 until 2002. He is vice provost for international affairs at Texas Tech.
“In one respect, it’s very good news because (Gadhafi) has been a target of the rebellion, which is no longer a rebellion because it is the recognized government of Libya,” Nagy said.
But unseating and then searching for Gadhafi unified diverse Libyan sects, meaning the technocrats, Islamists, professionals, advocates of authoritarian government and proponents of representational governments will vie for control of a country without a history of representative government, the former ambassador said.
“There are a number of people who consider themselves as the new patriots,” he said. “It could become very, very difficult both for Libya and for the region.”
If the region become unstable, the ripples could reach as far as Lubbock.
“If things go south, then watch out what happens to gas prices again,” Nagy said.
He shied away from absolute predictions, saying, “I fear for instability. I hope for a smooth transition.”
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