What will happen to Libya? Assuming the revolutionaries manage to kick Qaddafi out, what kind of government can we expect? Will there be a power vacuum? A civil war?
These are some of the questions that I and a few others attempt to answer in a series of short opinion pieces that was published on the New York Times website’s Room for Debate. My piece is called Signs of a Democratic Spring.
One of the most prominent and fascinating aspects of the current Middle Eastern uprisings is the lack of opposition leaders – a charismatic figure to rally around. The Tunisian and Egyptian people organized their revolutions and overthrew their dictators without a single leader, and now the Libyan people are doing the same.
As in Egypt during the most anarchic days of the revolution, Libyans are relying on their communities for support, forming neighborhood patrols to protect their families and property from roaming mercenaries and sharing information via phone chains and online forums.
So far, much of that information has proved to be accurate. For example, a friend in Tripoli heard from a friend in Benghazi that Qaddafi loyalists had executed army and police officers as punishment for refusing orders to shoot unarmed protesters. Two days later, an amateur video clip loaded onto a social media site showed the corpses of the executed officers, still in uniform and with their hands tied behind their backs. And a day after that, Western reporters reached Benghazi and confirmed that they had witnessed the corpses of the executed officers.
Later that day, the Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan quoted my piece on his well-known blog, the Daily Dish.
It was a good day.