Libya Civil War Feared, Unrest in Cyrenaica Region a Concern

 
on February 22 2011 10:32 AM
Frame grab shows a crowd gathering as smoke billows from a building in Benghazi
Frame grab shows a crowd gathering as smoke billows from a building in Benghazi Reuters

The specter of civil war looms in Libya, according Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi.

The younger Gaddafi said that Libya is “not Tunis or Egypt...If there was disturbance it will split to several states.”

He correctly noted that in certain periods of history, the present-day Libya actually consisted of three states -- Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica.

When the elder Gaddafi came into power in the 1969, he had some success in de-emphasizing regionalism/tribalism. However, this ingrained part of Libyan society was never completely stamped out.

As tensions mounted in the 2011 protests, regional/tribal fault-lines became apparent and are beginning to fracture. In particular, the Cyrenaica region (Benghazi is located there) is showing increasing signs of defecting against Gaddafi, who is from the Tripolitania region.

Interestingly, Gaddafi took control of Libya in 1969 by staging a coup against King Idris, who was from Cyrenaica.

Not surprisingly, these two regions have had an uneasy history.

In his speech, the younger Gaddafi also appealed to the economic interests of Libya. He said Egypt is suffering economically because tourism, a major industry there, has been curtailed. For Libya, oil revenues will be threatened if a civil war were to break out.

Moreover, if Libya were divided into small countries, some lands will have oil and some won't.  For places that don't have oil, no one will spend on them and children will not go to schools or universities.

The younger Gaddafi offered political reforms and urged Libyans to unite and work together. 

If that doesn’t happen, “be ready to start a civil war and chaos and forget oil and petrol,” he said.

 

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