The economic, social, and political challenges in the aftermath of the conflict and the removal of Qadhafi are enormous. With virtrually all sate institutions having been eviscerated or neglected by the Qadhafi government, Libya will confront a simultaneous need to restructure its economy away from excessive reliance on the state and hydrocarbon revenues; to come up with a political formula that is acceptable to a number of different players that have traditionally been antagonistic but that were held together by the authoritarian policies of the Qadhafi government; and to create a system of law that serves its citizens equally. All of this will need to be established in an oil economy that creates all kind of opportunities for different Libyan players- individuals, families, tribes, and provinces- to pursue their own interests at the expense of whatever kind of new Libya may emerge.

What will be needed is not simply the re-construction of the political, social, legal and economic institutions of a Libya past, but in more significant ways the creation for the first time of the kinds of rules, mutual obligations, and checks-and-balances that mark modern states and how they interact with their societies. In light of the traditional antagonisms between different tribal groups and between the different provinces and the lack of institutional frameworks to resolve differences, governance challenges will be enormous. The EU and the international community, therefore should do all in their power to create facts on the ground that alleviate those traditional tensions and faultlines.

The reconstruction of Libya will need to be both integrated and systematic, interweaving various social, political, legal, and economic initiatives. This will be a tough road since Libya will be severely lacking in the basic understanding of how modern, representative governments and the rule of law work. The TNC natural impulse will be to insist on elections. But elections without the prerequisites for a modern democracy in place are hollow and counter-productive. Libyans are unlikely to be impressed with calls for elections in a country where the most basic checks and balance to make a democratic system work are not yet in place.  The EU will need to provide help in creating a sustainable network of civil, social, and political institutions that can build the foundations of a future, democratic Libya.

Today, almost 95 percent of Libya's current income is derived from oil and natural gas. How the proceeds from this hydrocarbon-fueled economy are distributed will be seen as crucial by all sides.  This will require a number of creative solutions to keep the country unified. Perhaps a federal formula might help provide incentives for the different provinces and tribes to work together rather than go their own way.

Libya is a tribal society; such societies have long memories, and fourty years of Qadhafi's rule made some collaboration with the regime virtually unavoidable for almost everyone. In thinking, about rebuilding Libya, any actor who can help prevent the settling of scores will be seen as a valuable interlocutor.

In conclusion, once the euphoria over the removal of Qadhafi wears off the hard tasks of state-building within Libya lie ahead. In a political landscape where citizen loyalties were deliberately never aggregated at the national level, the road ahead will prove unsettling and uncertain. It will undoubtedly provide ample opportunities for those who want to obstruct that process.

To avoid this, Libya will need substantial expertise that will help to build a new, democratic state, to reform and develop its badly functioning economy, and to improve local democratic governance through a number of educational, economic, and political initiatives. Libya's survival as a unified country will not only depend on how its own citizens deal with its long-standing fissures but also on the careful planning of outside powers. The EU and the international community at large are uniquely situated to help Libyans address exactly those multiple, overlapping taks, and, for the first time, create a political entity in Libya that all its citizens can truly subscribe to. A power vaccum and a chaos would be the worst kind of scenario.




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