By William Tucker
According to multiple media outlets, Libyan rebels have entered the capital of Tripoli and have secured much of the city. Although there are still pockets of resistance, the areas secured by the rebels would indicate that city has indeed fallen. Two of Gaddafi’s sons have been captured in the midst of the rebel offensive, but the Colonel is still believed to be holed up in a hotel in the city. Now comes the hard part. The rebels have created a transitional council responsible for acting as the legitimate government of Libya. While the groundwork for a post Gaddafi government has been laid, there is a very real threat of insurgency. Some of Gaddafi’s supporters were seen stripping out of their uniforms and blending in with the civilian population. The future of these individuals is unclear, but it is likely that regime loyalists will be given amnesty as a means of national reconciliation. The Colonel, however, has been indicted by the ICC and therefore has little incentive to surrender unless he, too, is given amnesty from prosecution. All this being said, the situation in Tripoli is still fluid and surprises could await.
But what of NATO? While the media has closely followed the advance of the rebels, coverage of NATO and its operations has largely fallen by the wayside. A few things to consider in the coming months is the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya. Of course, this could be reversed, depending on the situation, but in the near future NATO could have more of an operational bandwidth. With so many other burning issues in the Middle East and Africa, we could see NATO taking a more aggressive role in Europe’s near abroad. As of now this is all speculation, but we must focus our attention not only on the theater of operations, but on the future of the nations that have an interest in any of these troubled regions.