Smoke rises after coalition air strikes in Tripoli
Smoke rises after coalition air strikes in Tripoli

The problems with intra-national conflicts are often that in order to fully understand the set of complex dynamics and circumstances that come into play, far information than what is reported in and provided by the mainstream media is needed. In Libya problems did not surface just three months ago and despite being crushed, opponents of the Gaddafi regime existed before the uprising so is it really justifiable for Mustapha Abdul Jalil, the former Gaddafi Justice Minister to now be the head of the National Transitional Council? Where are the Libyan opponents who were epeatedly arrested and persecuted by the regime before the current uprising?

However with the help of the West, and the mainstream media, the council is now widely accepted as the legitimate successor to Gaddafi. Dissenting voices are still echoing, but this time against the council's members and the rebel movement.

For many Pan-Africanists the Libyan western intervention is yet another imperialistic manoeuvre and the Pan-African parliament officially condemns what they see as a Nato attack on Libya. Many are not necessarily supporters of Gaddafi and called for his departure long before the uprisings, but what they regret perhaps the most is the inability of the African Union to deal with its own continent and to take charge. Many point out that images from the protests broadcasted on T.V sometimes seem surreal as we can see people chanting and cheering while in the background bombs are still dropping, but I guess in times of war, the absurd is sometimes needed to escape from the imminent threat of death.

According to the critics of the Nato-led intervention however, what seems even more surreal is to expect that all the opposition groups and dissident voices have regrouped around ex-Gaddafi ministers and are now forming a homogenised group. As pointed out by many observers an important fact, often overlooked is the flag used by the rebel fighters. Their flag, in contrast to the Tunisian and Egyptians protesters, differs from the national one. It is the old Libyan flag used under the King Idris monarchy, which was highly criticised by Arab nationalist for maintaining close ties with the West, and was dropped by Gaddafi upon his arrival to power. Is the flag then another clue that the Libyan uprising was planned by the West or is it just a way to stand in opposition from Gaddafi? Whatever the answer, let us just hope that it is not an indication that Libya should look backwards and not forward.

Another useful critic is the speed at which the situation evolved in such a limited amount of time. The first protests emerged in Tripoli and were peaceful but were brutally crushed by the Libyan regime. However the next sets of protests were in Benghazi and this time government institutions and buildings were this time directly attacked. It seems that in the space of two weeks the population had regrouped to form a rebel led movement. But where were all those guns coming from when the fighters are allegedly just everyday citizens?

A third problem advanced is that contrary to public belief the Libyan opposition is not made of one group but rather is constituted of a 40 strong coalition of groups who mainly agree on one fact: Gaddafi needs to leave. So while the bureaucratic leaders will officially control the country from their official buildings, how will they ensure that the coalition groups that feel left out do not continue to fight on the streets after Gaddafi leaves?

Finally a fourth problem advanced regards the Al-Qaeda threat in Libya. While Gaddafi's claim that the Islamist organisation has drugged the youth's Nescafe to turn them into dissidents helped those who downplayed a possible Al-Qaeda involvement in the movement, a rebel commander has firmly backed the organisation of the late Mr bin Laden.

So in these conditions what will happen to Libya if Gaddafi leaves or is removed?

It seems that Pan-Africans are not the only ones who ask the question as Fidel Castro joined their position and maintain that oil is the main motive behind the Nato operation and that as long as the Transitional Council are dependent on the West, Libya will never really belong to the Libyan people. In an article published in the Cuban newspaper in February, Castro makes an analogy between Libya and Latin America; talking about the US's quest for oil he wrote:

"Upon this energy source today's civilization was developed. Venezuela was the nation in this hemisphere that paid the highest price. The United States became the lord and master of the huge oil fields that Mother Nature had bestowed upon that sister country."

Just like the Pan-African movement, Castro also blames the world media for depicting simplified versions of the situation: "One can agree with Gaddafi or not. The world has been invaded with all kinds of news, especially using the mass media. One has to wait the necessary length of time in order to learn precisely what is the truth and what are lies, or a mixture of events of every kind that, in the midst of chaos, were produced in Libya. For me, what is absolutely clear is that the government of the United States is not in the least worried about peace in Libya and it will not hesitate in giving NATO the order to invade that rich country."

So is the Libyan crisis just a western set-up and will Nato forces control the country once Gaddafi is out? Well, the problem with that version is that it only focuses on the West and denies important international and regional players. The possibility of Nato sending forces on the ground to help the new regime settle and ensure a return to peace remains a strong possibility. On the other hand it seems that by being diplomatically extremely pro-active and seeking ties with various states such as Israel, China and Russia, the Transitional Council does not want to be dependent on Nato and rather wants to be able to lean on different allies. The real question is maybe not what will happen to Libya if Gaddafi leaves but rather will the council stand up to its people's expectations? The problem with revolutions is that they often base themselves on ideals, and ideals do not always materialise. While Gaddafi out of power will undoubtedly be a step in the right direction for Libya, state and institution building is a long, painful and messy process and in that sense the most important challenge of the Arab Spring will be to succeed in making better regimes where others revolutions have failed.