For the past week, the world’s gaze has been fixed on the North African country known as Libya. Libya borders the Mediterranean Sea, and is the 4th largest country in Africa, and the 17th largest in the world with an area of roughly 680 square miles. Libya’s economy thrives on its oil industry, which has benefited the country’s infrastructure immensely. In addition to to having one of the most advanced infrastructures in the region, Libya is also leading the way in sanitation. Yet, only three days ago, dissidents organized massive protests in opposition of the Libyan government. So, what exactly is going on here?
The answer becomes much more apparent when we take a look at Libya’s dictator, Moammar Qaddafi. Alright, so in addition to wearing silly outfits, and pitching a tent in Donald Trump’s yard, Qaddafi’s hobbies also include bombing his own people and corruption. Qaddafi is oppressive, coercive and manipulative. Freedom in Libya is quite literally, non-existent. In fact, most citizens are too afraid to even utter the name “Qaddafi.” With an 80% unemployment rate, and widespread cases of malnutrition among Libyan children, it would seem that after 42 years, Libyans are ready for change. But it won’t be easy. Qaddafi is the definition of a megalomaniac, and has no intentions of giving up his authority.
A lot of people will probably wonder why it took Libyans so long to rebel against the regime that has been causing hardship in the country for half a lifetime. Although it is only speculation, it could have something to do with the structure of Libyan society. In Libya, there are a plethora of small, regional tribes. It is a very traditional African culture, despite its exposure to Western values. Nationality comes only after clan affiliation. Because Libya wasn’t united, it was easy for Qaddafi to take advantage of the disorganization.
Whatever the cause, everyone is wondering what is coming next. No matter what happens in Libya, it is bound to have a huge impact on the world at large because of its economic significance. The best thing the United States can do now is to work with the U.N. to negotiate an end to the violence.