Muammar Qaddafi’s overthrow was interpreted
in the West as the removal of a tyranny and an
expression of regional democratisation dynamics.
Concerned with their own interests, Western
powers have not paid attention to key factors
affecting political developments in the wider
Firstly, the Libyan political process is still chaotic,
despite successful parliamentary elections in
July. Institution building and the restoration of a
monopoly of violence will be tough challenges
for a country still split by divisive allegiances.
Secondly, Qaddafi played a role in managing and
containing regional tensions. The collapse of the
regional order he represented has not resulted
in a clear alternative and the turmoil in many
countries may require more than a mere tactical
The (re)assertion of political Islam in the region
corresponds to new grievances and to a political
intervention by some national and transnational
actors who rightly understand that the West is not
currently willing to invest in proper solutions to
regional social and economic tensions.
It would be dangerous to give too much credit to
ideologies at a time when political processes are
deeply rooted in national histories and arenas.
Greater attention to economic changes beyond
concerns over the growth of an illegal regional
economy should feed national and international
policies aimed at giving internal peace and
liberalisation a chance.