These days, hearing the phrase "the government of Libya" being used on BBC radio in reference to Muammar Gaddafi's government can leave one slightly confused. At any other time in history this choice of words would have been insignificant, but nowadays things are not so clear. Recently, America, Britain and France declared the rebel movement the new legitimate government of Libya--an action that highlights an inconsistency in the fundamental reason, per the United Nations (UN) resolution, for Western troops presence in Libya, i.e. to defend innocent civilians.
Not surprisingly, the biggest impact of this new recognition is that Libya's international assets, which were frozen during the initial stages of the conflict, will be thawed and entrusted into the hands of the rebels. This action begs the question of how the rebels, who are reported to have also killed civilians (including pro-Gaddafi civilians and innocent Black Africans), have more legitimacy than Mr. Gaddafi. Clearly, as the rebels would have to account to their Western backers, it is not far-fetched to see why some conspiracy theorists believe that the Western intervention into the Libyan conflict was to enable these foreign powers to tap directly into Libya's oil-oozing pipelines.
The conspiracy theorists may not appear so irrational if one considers the evolution of NATO's actions during the conflict. First, the plan to save innocent civilians who were being crushed under the power of Gaddafi forces. Then the plan moved to targeting Libya's military installments that were of strategic important to the pro-Gaddafi troops. Next, Gaddafi was declared to have gone too far in his brutality towards civilians and thus had to go. Meanwhile, all actions by the Africa Union to negotiate a settlement were ignored by Western power-brokers, possibly because such a negotiation precludes the latter's unfettered control over Libya's resources.
It is true that Mr. Gaddafi has killed civilians in Libya--but so has Bashar al-Assad in Syria. But of course, Damascus is no pushover, so no real muscle can be applied against Bashar's government. This is all Hobbesian--great powers do what they want, smaller powers have to rebuild in the wake of destruction. The bigger issue here is: even if/when Gaddafi leaves eventually, rebuilding Libya will be a struggle, especially when that reconstruction process would led by the slapdash efforts of a puppet government consisting of rebels who are tied to the apron strings of Western powers.
Photo Credit: WonderQuest