Why Libya is different

Tunisia and Egypt were, in a sense, decapitations – hugely important removals of dictators that nevertheless left a lot of old structures standing. Libya is different, writes Mouin Rabbani:

‘Perhaps most importantly, Qaddafi’s removal cannot but result in genuine regime change. Unlike Egypt or Tunisia, Libya does not possess autonomous state institutions or state-sponsored elites with the capacity to force out the leader in order to perpetuate their custodianship of the state. If Qaddafi falls – and absent foreign intervention – Libya’s power elite will either go down with him, or remain masters of institutions and networks that no longer exist, are shattered beyond repair or have lost their relevance. Libya, in other words, will be spared the spectre of a permanent transition, and any successor appointed by the Ancien Régime will make Shapour Bakhtiar’s 39-day tenure look everlasting. As with the national uprising against the Shah in the late 1970s, the only possible outcomes are restoration or revolution.’

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