Gadhafi’s fall leaves wake of new governing questions

Libyan rebels stormed the capital of Tripoli on Sunday night, taking more control of the city by Monday morning and forcing Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s two sons to surrender, along with many of his loyalists. In a statement Sunday night, President Barack Obama said control of the capital was “slipping from the grasp of a tyrant.” He called on Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, to step down from power.

The six-month conflict seems to be over as the rebel government, known as the National Transitional Council, is beginning to be recognized by other countries, such as Egypt and Jordan. Libyan assets frozen by European governments will be unfrozen in the coming week.

Libya’s civil conflict began in February, following a wave of liberation movements in the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring. Since December 2010, Tunisia and Egypt have revolted against their governments, and now, Libya’s revolution is on the brink of completion. Additionally, uprisings and protests have been seen in many other Middle Eastern nations, such as Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

Gadhafi rose to power in a 1969 coup of the former Libyan king. Relations between Gadhafi’s regime and the U.S. have been somewhat strained for much of his 42-year rule.

The U.S. and NATO stepped into the conflict over the summer, increasing their air strike campaigns the longer Gadhafi resisted.

Now, after six months of resistance, Gadhafi remains in hiding as his country begins to rebuild; only small pockets of Gadhafi loyalists remain.

Paul Diehl, University professor in political science, said that it is not clear what will happen in the coming days following the Gadhafi regime’s fall. Diehl said that two key questions exist: can the coalition of tribe groups and political forces hold together now that Gadhafi has, essentially, been overthrown? And if they do, can they govern the country in a meaningful way?

During the conflict, most of the government functions were carried out by Gadhafi’s administration, Diehl said.

“In the short term, it may be fine,” he said. “But, will this new transitional government schedule elections? Will they be able to govern? Will you start to see different regional leaders?”

Diehl said factions of ideology may split, which is akin to the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution.

“The jury’s still out,” he said. “Egypt will have elections, but it still has a military government. In some ways, these (countries) are all works in progress.”

_The Associated Press contributed to this article_