Good Reads: Al Qaeda's No. 2, Africa hearts Qaddafi, and an American (jailed) in Pakistan
Today's top stories feature deeper looks at Al Qaeda's No. 2 man, why Africa still loves Qaddafi, and what Alabama has to do with Pakistan.
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One of the ways Qaddafi has managed to stay in power for 42 years was by keeping his people divided, playing up rivalries between Tripoli and Benghazi, two of the country's largest cities. Now that rivalry continues to play out among members of the opposition. The consequences, Van Langendonck and Chick write, could undermine the new interim government.Skip to next paragraph
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“[W]hile the rebels successfully came together to expel Mr. Qaddafi from Tripoli after 42 years of dictatorship, their ability to maintain that unity and lead a successful transition to democracy is already coming into question. If an interim government fails to take firm control very soon, Libya could face a power vacuum in which disparate armed groups fight for control of the oil-rich country.”
Meanwhile, in capitals around the continent, many African leaders remain loyal to the all-but-ousted-in-an-undershirt Qaddafi, a fact that is nicely explained by Simon Allison in South Africa’s web-only news magazine, the Daily Maverick (and its newly launched iPad version, iMaverick). The answer, as with so many foreign policy questions, has to do with oil and money and power. Qaddafi ruled a country that had oil, Mr. Allison writes, and Qaddafi shared that oil wealthy freely, in return for power and loyalty.
But loyal African friends of Qaddafi are being shortsighted, Allison continues.
“Given they’ve [the Libyan rebels] most of a country to rebuild, as well as four decades of Gaddafi’s eccentric leadership to rehabilitate, it’s likely they’ll have a few other things to do with their money rather than keep up Brother Leader’s largesse on the continent. Most pressing is the question of AU [African Union] contributions - the continental body is quietly desperate for Libya to start paying again, as it can ill afford a 15% revenue cut for very long.”
In the Guardian, veteran Islamabad bureau chief Declan Walsh tracks down an American who had lived in Pakistan, and then fell astray of the law at the worst possible time, after the arrest and release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis and after the Navy Seal operation that killed Osama bin Laden. At a time when Pakistani-US relations are at such a low point, the case of young American Matthew Barrett is about so much more than just a guy who took a wrong turn into a sensitive Pakistani military zone.
As Walsh sums it up thus, “Is the young American really a CIA operative, part of a covert team such as the one that tracked bin Laden, or others that are trying to inventory Pakistan's nuclear stockpile? Or is he simply a young romantic who fell in love with the right woman from the wrong country, an unwitting victim of the geopolitical spy wars between two countries who cannot bear to be friends nor enemies?”