The Korea Herald


[Editorial] Lessons from Libya


Published : Aug. 23, 2011 - 19:08

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The collapse of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s iron-fisted regime appeared imminent on Tuesday as rebels took control of most of Tripoli and seized two of the leader’s seven sons. Rebels briefly celebrated their victory in Green Square, the symbolic heart of Gadhafi’s dictatorial rule.

Gadhafi still remained at large. Saif al-Islam, the leader’s second son who has been considered his heir apparent, said his father was safe in Tripoli. Remnants of forces loyal to Gadhafi refused to lay down their arms. However, it is now clear that the ruthless ruler no longer controls Libya as rebels, with the military assistance from NATO countries, have put an end to his 42-year-old grip on power.

Western leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, urged Gadhafi to accept defeat to prevent more bloodshed and end the civil war that has ravaged the oil-producing North African country for the past six months.

With the downfall of Gadhafi’s regime, Libya is expected to soon embark on a path toward democracy under the leadership of the rebel government, the National Transitional Council. Major countries of the world, including the United States and Great Britain, have already recognized the council as Libya’s legitimate governing authority.

The transition to democracy, however, is likely to be bumpy. According to reports, the council has drawn up a blueprint for a peaceful and smooth transition. But it is unclear whether it can unify diverse armed rebel groups and prevent civil war.

Hence, Western powers and the United Nations should help Libyans rebuild their nation without further confusion and blood-letting. They need to ensure that rebel groups do not take revenge against Gadhafi’s followers. They will also have to enable the African country to resume oil production promptly, helping stabilize global oil prices.

If Libya successfully achieves its transition to democracy, it will energize the democratic movement in the Middle East and North Africa. The downfall of Gadhafi itself would give courage to opposition groups in this region, including Syria.

The implosion of Gadhafi’s regime demonstrates once again that no entrenched autocratic government is invincible. This axiom should apply to North Korea. The Libyan case shows that the downfall of the anachronistic regime in Pyongyang is only a matter of time. It is time for the North’s leader Kim Jong-il, who is now visiting Russia to get economic aid, to face reality and give up his futile efforts to keep his house of cards from collapsing.