After Gadhafi, the West eyes the Libyan prize
Oil rich and deeply divided, the country is vulnerable to outside powers

The death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will likely — though it’s too early to know anything for sure — mean the end of the current stage of Libya’s civil war. Whether it will set the stage for peace, national reconciliation, democracy, normalization with the region or other goals is far less clear. And what post-Gadhafi Libya’s relationship with the United States and other NATO countries will look like remains uncertain.

A Libyan commentator on Al Jazeera this morning, celebrating the death of Gadhafi, described it as the “third fall” of dictators in the Arab Spring. But while the overthrow of Gadhafi’s 42-year-old regime found its origins in the same Tunisian- and Egyptian-inspired nonviolent mobilizations as those still underway in Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, Libya’s trajectory was profoundly different.

It began the same way, with a home-grown call for protests against a dictatorship responsible for terrible repression, the massacre of prisoners and more. But when Libyan protesters took up arms, and especially when leaders invited NATO and the U.S. to become the “air force of the Transitional National Council,” the links between Libya’s rebellion and those of the rest of the Arab Spring began to fray.

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