Middle East scholar talks of Libyan revolution

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The David M. Kennedy Center invited a well-known Middle East scholar, George Joffe, to discuss the Libya situation with students on Thursday.

The Kennedy Center provides several lectures involving international studies each semester, and “Libya: The End of the Beginning — Regional Implications of the End of the Qadhafi Regime” is the latest one.

Joffe is a senior fellow of the Centre of International Studies at University of Cambridge and a visiting professor at the London University.

His specialty is Middle East and North Africa. Joffe focused on answering three questions: why the Libya revolution occurred, what is going to happen next and the implications from what happened in Libya.

“What’s happening in Libya is really quite amazing,” Joffe said. “It’s a genuine revolution of a kind we won’t yet see inside the Middle East or North Africa.”

Joffe said the failed economic development in the region in the last 20 years and the sudden rise of food prices are two of the reasons for the revolution.

“Libya, 6 million strong population, is effectively located in two cities,” Joffe said. “And the consequence of that is if you lose control of one of those cities, you lose half the country.”

Joffe also added the public image of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, who is well-known for insulting major leaders worldwide, is another contributing factor to the Libya revolution. When revolution breaks out, Gadhafi does not have any real friends to help him.

“How, in fact, is the achievement today of destroying the Gadhafi regime to be turned into a positive outcome which allow Libyans to reconstruct the states?” Joffe asked.

He brought up a couple of major problems the National Transitional Council in Libya is now facing.

In addition to lacking financial support, the NTC also has difficulty in constructing a reliable, credible system administration without a person in charge of the system, Joffe said.

He also extended the implication of the Libya revolution to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa such as Syria and Algeria.

“As long as the struggle continues in Syria, Libya will be seen as one alternative way forward for the peaceful demonstrations [that] have taken place so far,” Joffe said.

The lecture is archived and available on the Kennedy Center website.

 

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