Aug 21 (Reuters) - Libyan rebels entered the capital Tripoli on Sunday with little sign of resistance from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in the Libyan leader’s last remaining stronghold in the North African nation.
Following are reactions from analysts and political players to the fluid events unfolding in Libya following six months of fighting between rebels and Gaddafi’s forces.
”For the city to fall so easily shows that despite all the bluster of the Gaddafi regime, it had lost the confidence of the Libyan people a long time ago.
”The assault has been led by rebels from the Jebel Nafusa and Misrata and not by those from Benghazi and there is no guarantee they will accept the leadership of Benghazi. So we are entering a very dangerous phase.
”And then you still have the problem of Sirte. It has not yet been reduced. They may fight on and indeed Gaddafi may actually be there. They may not give up quite so easily.
“There are many people there who are invested in the regime and so you may have a new stage of the civil war.”
“The rebels will want to get rid of every last vestige of the regime but I know of no effective plan or operation so far to rebuild the country.”
JOHN DRAKE, SENIOR RISK CONSULTANT, UK-BASED CONSULTANCY AKE
”Had the rebels marched into Tripoli in late February the situation would have been very different and the city may have fallen relatively quickly and easily.
“Now, after six months of fighting, the animosity between the two sides is likely to be a lot higher, so there is going to be a risk of violent retribution against those seen as having supported the regime over that time.”
”The game is over for Gaddafi. There’s bound to be some resistance here and there but his forces seem to be falling apart. He no longer directs his men.
”I think most Libyans want his men to peacefully surrender but if they resist they will have to be fought.
”If rebel forces capture people who are wanted by The Hague court, they will have to keep them safe until they are handed over to Libyan legal authorities.
“What then happens to those persons arrested, in terms of whether they end up at The Hague court, will I think depend in part on how they conduct themselves (in custody).”
”It does look like it is coming to an end. But there are still plenty of questions. The most important is exactly what Gaddafi does now. Does he flee or can he fight? In the slightly longer term, what happens next? We know there have been some serious divisions between the rebel movement and we don’t know yet if they will be able to form a cohesive front is to run the country.
“Looking further afield, it is obviously going to be very uncomfortable viewing for Assad in Syria. Obviously they are very different cases, particularly because of the outside military involvement in Libya. But it’s another sign that when you use brutal force against protesters, you lose legitimacy. It just inflames the situation and at the end of the day we have seen another regional leader forced from power.”
DANIEL KORSKI, SENIOR FELLOW, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
“The next few hours are key. From Iraq we know that the first days, weeks and months are key for any long-term stability. What happens to law and order, what happens to ex-loyalists is key. The worst that could happen is the collapse of the Gaddafi regime and a huge vacuum. The West must be there to support an orderly transition, resist crowing and taking the responsibility away from the Libyans yet make clear to the rebels they must hold to standards they felt Gaddafi never met.”
”Actually I‘m numb. I don’t know what to feel. We just can’t believe it’s true. I‘m really, really so proud to be a Libyan tonight. We’re so grateful. I‘m in Cairo at the moment. We’ve received calls coming in from family inside Libya. Thank God they’re safe.
”There have been many calls from the imams to the young men that they should not kill or seek vengeance, and that if they catch anyone they should hand them over to the authorities.
“This has been a very honourable and highly moral revolution.”
HAYAT ALVI, LECTURER IN MIDDLE EAST POLITICS, US NAVAL WAR COLLEGE
”If indeed the rebels finish the job today, then this will have been a swift and decisive and incredibly determined effort on the part of the rebels, and the significance of Ramadan will certainly not go understated in the eyes of many in Libya and in the Islamic world. The role of NATO in this process over the last several months will definitely be praised.
”This also signifies a milestone for the post-colonial Middle East: The longest ruling dictator has fallen. I don’t think even the ouster/overthrow of Ben Ali and Mubarak signaled such a symbolically significant political marker, which will reverberate in the most pronounced manner throughout the region.
”The fighting skills of the ragtag rebels in Libya will potentially inspire others as well.
“This is a momentous event. Gaddafi is history - this time not just rhetorically, but very literally.”
MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA, LIBYAN PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT SAN ANTONIO
“I‘m elated. I feel happiness that we’ve got rid of this monster, mixed with fear about what may come next. Will the National Transitional Council be wise enough to bring the people together? I have no choice but to be optimistic, although things have happened a bit too quickly and I really wanted to digest every moment.” (Reporting By William Maclean, Peter Apps, London World Desk, Maria Golovnina; Editing by Andrew Heavens)