The Libyan Arab Spring led to the inauguration of a new chapter in the country's history. What is most challenging in the foreseeable future is who is going to be the leading player of the transitional process or else who is going to set the hierarchy of needs in the Libyan state in order to prevent further confrontation and polarization. The rule of law and democratic principles cannot be instilled into Libyan people overnight. Tremendous effort is needed in order to fulfil “the responsibility to protect the civilians”.
Libyan history is fraught with trials. Political backwardness, autocratic rule and oppression are the salient features of the Libyan historical course. In the wake of a civil war, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) military intervention and Qaddafi's demise, Libya finds itself in a historic turning point proceeding towards democratic elections amid violence and hatreds among militias, clans and tribes.
In mid-February 2011, the “Arab Spring” expanded to the Libyan territory.
But, contrary to Tunisia and Egypt, Libyan uprising evolved quickly into a civil conflict between anti-government militias and the regime's loyal forces. Despite the sanctions issued following the United Nations Security Council's (UNSC) Resolution 1970, the violence escalated and led to Resolution 1973, which provided, with five Council members' abstention, legal authority for NATO to “use all necessary measures” to protect civilians under threat.
Few days after Qaddafi was killed, NATO ended its mission, on 31 October, with an enthusiastic declaration of its chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen noting that the Operation Unified Protector was “one of the most successful in NATO history”.
Yet, NATO faces accusations of disrespect for the UN mandate as it is said to be responsible for war crimes
and violation of the international humanitarian law.
The National Transitional Council (NTC), overrepresenting Cyrenaica,
was officially established in March
and has achieved broad international recognition.
It is composed of elite members being mainly defectors of the former Qaddafi regime or descendants of the leading families during the monarchy (1951-1969), following Libya's independence from the Italian colonial rule.
NTC chairman, Mustafa Abdeljelil was, along with the former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, official of the Qaddafi regime, while the latter, having pledged to step down after Libya's “liberation”, was replaced by the ex-Alabama professor Abdurrahim al-Keib, born in Tripoli.
The NTC has recently adopted the electoral law to prepare the ground for the assembly election, due in June. As soon as the latter takes place, the transitional leadership will be dissolved and a new government will be appointed. However, it should be taken into consideration that the stumbling block to the transitional process could be Libya's little experience in participatory politics and the poor quality of state institutions.
Prioritizing the needs, the interim government has the daunting task, in tight time limits, to restore security, disarm and unify different group of militias and consolidate them into a national army.
Additionally, it has to mend the differences and mitigate the revengeful sentiments among clans inside Libya.
It is essential, finally, to develop the state institutions and implement the new-fangled constitutional declaration, based on Sharia law.
Dozens of political parties have sprung up and none of them has, so far, renounced Islamic principles.
The influence of Islamists, once outlawed and banned, is growing. The two most prominent and influential figures are the Islamic scholar Ali Sallabi, closely tied to Muslim Brotherhood and Abdem Hakim Belhaj, who led, the now defunct, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, said to have links with Al Qaeda. Belhaj is currently the leader of the Tripoli Military Council, heads the strongest of the country's militias and he is backed by Qatar, which is accused of interfering in the Libyan domestic affairs by providing arms and money to Islamists. On the other hand, Libyan
Salafis -the hardline Islamists- have not yet formed a political party, although their public presence is increasing, seeking to promote a strict form of Islam in the Libyan communities. EU's approach to this trend in the North African region could be characterized as cautionary in order not to trigger extremism and jeopardize the democratization process.
Yet, concerns that this trend could affect the European Islamic communities or increase the migration flows consisting of secular elements of the country, do exist. On the other side of the Atlantic, the US, maintaining good relations with NTC, is watching alarmed the developments of the ascension of Islamism at the political helm as, in case of prevalence, there are fears that Libya could become a safe haven for Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Undoubtedly, Libya enters the phase of nation-building. The UN is about to perform its familiar role (in 1951 it was the UN that had appointed King Idris I, toppled in 1969 following a military coup orchestrated by Gaddafi) of state stabilization and reconstruction. To this end, the UN Security Council adopted the Resolution 2009, which established a UN mission in Libya (UNMIL) for an initial period of three months whose focus is suggested to be on disarmament of militias and reintegration.
Concerning the sanctions, the UNSC decided in December to unblock the assets of key Libyan banks, thus the US, the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) followed suit. Given the difficult path towards democratic procedures, the UN extended its mission until March 2012, to help Libyans organize their first elections, achieve public security and transitional justice and cope with arms proliferation.
In fact, there has been registered high increase in weapons and ammunition smuggling into the Sahel region, which could be funnelled to Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
The US in order to secure “all proliferation sensitive materials”, such as conventional weapons and stockpiles of uranium is ready to assist NTC in preventing this development.
Another source of concern is the impact of the Libyan civil war in the entire Saharo-Sahelian region, such as the recent developments in Mali after the heavily armed Tuaregs formed the Mouvement National Pour la Libération de l' Azawad (North Mali) and attacked the Malian army.
UN special envoy to Libya, Ian Martin, poses another challenging task for the mission, namely “the diverse armed brigades” and the conditions of detention and torture of detainees, loyal to the Gaddafi regime.
So far, the efforts made aiming at the disarmament of the militias are inadequate and thus the violence escalates, bringing with it the fear of an outbreak of a second civil war.
What stays, also, in abeyance is the place of the trial of Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam after his capture following the arrest warrant for crimes against humanity issued by the International Criminal Court. In fact, the ICC has the jurisdiction over this case under the principle of complementarity.
That is to say, it can undertake the case “only if the state in which the crimes were committed is unable or unwilling to do so”.
In the same vein, the EU has to address a bulk of issues emanating from its Mediterranean neighbourhood. Since the beginning of the crisis the Union has provided more than €156.5 million in humanitarian aid, with 80.5 million stemming from the EU budget.
In addition, the European Commission is about to help financially the NTC to relaunch the suspended programmes in the field of migration, that is AENEAS and the Thematic Programme for Cooperation with Third countries in the Areas of Migration and Asylum.
In fact, the EU suffered directly the cost of turmoil as, due to its geographical proximity, its littoral member states received flows of immigrants. The principal areas of EU's involvement are technical assistance, democratisation, health and education.
The Delegation of the EU in Libya, based in Tripoli, is an emblem of political recognition and cooperation as well as an additional underpinning of its assistance to the transitional process.
What is more, the prospect of, in bygone times impossible, economic integration in the Maghreb region arises as a priority among the new North African leaderships,
an evolution from which the European governments would benefit, leading to a new era of cooperation, even to a revival of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
It should be noted that, the Union is the main destination of Libyan oil exports;
hence, given its strategic aim of diversification of energy suppliers, it needs oil production to be brought back to the pre-revolutionary levels. According to the International Energy
Agency (IEA), Libya's production capacity in the fourth quarter of 2012 will, surprisingly, reach 1.17 million barrels per day compared to 1.6 mb/d in 2010.
Libya's National Oil Corporation agreed to supply four major trading giants of Europe, that is Glencore, which was given the largest share of three cargoes of Libyan oil per month and Swiss-based Gunvor, Trafigura and Vitol.
What has changed compared to previous years is that it was decided to include trading houses instead of supplying only refiners.
As a result, Italy's Saras was awarded four different grades of crude oil, while other refiners such as Repsol, Total, BP and Eni are in the priority list.
Chinese refiners, Unipec and Petrochina despite the country's stance of not supporting NATO's mission, will receive a good share too.
What is more, the Libyan Oil and Gas Summit scheduled to take place next March in Rome seeks to promote the OPEC producer's potential in the energy sector and its promising role in the global economic affairs.
Relating to Libya's future in business, the first steps have already taken place. Regarding the US, although not being in the front line during the NATO-led war, is about to take up a leading role in the business sector. Along with the NTC, they established the US-Libya Chamber of Commerce (USLCC), which represents America's biggest companies doing business with Libya.
Beyond the economic benefits for both sides, the US Chamber will provide Libyan government with expertise and the know-how to assist the progress of transition.
This cooperation aspires to increase trade and investment between the two countries, set transparent regulations, enhance communication between US and Libyan executives and promote understanding.
To this end, the “Founding Circle” members of the USLCC are undertaking, end of February, a “business promotion trip” to Libya to expand ties with the major players in the country's economic affairs.
Finally, it is apparent that enormous challenges arise ahead. The synthesis of the new government, the evolution of political Islam, the national unification and social coherence will be the decisive indicators of a smooth political transition. To achieve that, it is highly recommended that “post-Qaddafi era in Libya must not be UN-led but instead 'Libyan-led' and 'UN-assisted'”.
All links accessed on 9/2/2012
 For a day-to-day narration of the Libyan Arab Spring read the “diary” of Bernard-Henri Lévy, La Guerre sans l' aimer, Grasset, 2011.
 CNN, “NATO ends Libya mission”, (3/11/2011), http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/31/world/africa/libya-nato-mission/index.html
 Shabi, Rachel, “NATO accused of war crimes in Libya”, The Independent, (19/1/2012), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/nato-accused-of-war-crimes-in-libya-6291566.html
 Leymarie, Philippe, “L' OTAN célèbre le 'succès' libyen”, Les blogs du Diplo, (1/11/2011), http://blog.mondediplo.net/2011-11-01-L-OTAN-celebre-le-succes-libyen
. See also, Rrashad, Vijay,“Qaddafi, From Beginning to End”, Counterpunch, (23/10/2011), http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/10/21/qaddafi-from-beginning-to-end/
 Lacher, Wolfram, “Families, Tribes and Cities in the Libyan Revolution”, Middle East Policy, Vol. 18, No. 4, (2011), p. 4.
 National Transitional Council, official website, http://ntclibya.com/Default.aspx?SID=1&ParentID=0&LangID=1
 Haddad, Mohammed, “Map: Countries that recognise the NTC”, Al Jazeera, (1/9/2011),http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2011/09/201191101010560954.html
 Lacher, Wolfram, “Families, Tribes and Cities in the Libyan Revolution”, Middle East Policy, Vol. 18, No. 4,(2011), pp. 3-5.
 Dobbins, James and Wehrey, Frederic, “Libyan Nation Building After Qaddafi”, Foreign Affairs, (23/8/2011), http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/68227/james-dobbins-and-frederic-wehrey/libyan-nation-building-after-qaddafi
 International Crisis Group, “Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges After Qadhafi”, No.115, (14/12/2011), http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/north-africa/libya/115-holding-libya-together-security-challenges-after-qadhafi.aspx
 Haimzadeh, Patrick, “Qui a gagné la guerre en Libye?”, Le Monde Diplomatique, (12/2011).
 See the Constitutional Declaration http://portal.clinecenter.illinois.edu/REPOSITORYCACHE/114/w1R3bTIKElG95H3MH5nvrSxchm9QLb8T6EK87RZQ9pfnC4py47DaBn9jLA742IFN3d70VnOYueW7t67gWXEs3XiVJJxM8n18U9Wi8vAoO7_24166.pdf
 Habboush, Mahmoud, “Libya enjoys political flowering ahead of elections”, Reuters, (3/02/2012), http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/03/us-libya-parties-idUSTRE8120ZX20120203
 Antar, Abdel Nour Ben, “Europe and Islamists' Ascension to Power in Neighbouring Arab-Mediterranean Countries”, Al Jazeera, (29/01/2012), pp. 2-4.
 BBC, “Fears over Islamists within Libyan rebel ranks”, (31/08/2011).
 Center for Strategic & Interntational Studies, “Planning for Post-Gadhafi Libya”, Conference Report (7/2011), http://csis.org/publication/conference-report-planning-post-gadhafi-libya
 UN News Centre, “Libya: UN and Government sign status of mission agreement”, (10/1/2012),
 Charbonneau, Louis, “Arms from Libya could reach Boko Haram, al Qaeda: U.N.”, Reuters, (26/1/2012), http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/26/us-libya-un-arms-idUSTRE80P1QS20120126
 Embassy of the United States London-UK, “Securing Dangerous Materials' Stockpiles in Libya”, http://london.usembassy.gov/acda047.html
 Nossiter, Adam, “Qaddafi's Weapons, Taken by Old Allies, Reinvigorate an Insurgent Army in Mali”, New York Times, (5/02/2012).
 UN News Centre, “Libya facing challenging transition, but authorities striving to succeed”, (25/12/2011).
 Waters, Timothy William, “Let Tripoli Try Saif al-Islam”, Foreign Affairs, (9/12/2011), http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136726/timothy-william-waters/let-tripoli-try-saif-al-islam
 European Union External Action, "A look at EU support to Libya", (27/10/2011), http://eeas.europa.eu/top_stories/2011/271011_en.htm
 Europa Press Releases RAPID, “EU Support to Libya”, (12/11/2011), http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/11/779&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
 RFI, “A Tunis, les chefs d' Etats arabes appellent a l'unité du Grand Maghreb”, (14/1/2012), http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20120114-tunis-chefs-etats-arabes-appellent-unite-grand-maghreb
. See also Brunel, Claire, “Political Economy of the Maghreb”, Peterson Institute for International Economics, (10/2008).
 Energy Information Administration, “Country Analysis Briefs, Libya”, (2/2011), http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=LY
 International Energy Agency, “Efforts to restore oil production in Libya are progressing faster than anticipated”, (15/11/2011), http://www.iea.org/journalists/LatestInformation.asp?offset=20
 Libya-business news, “Libya awards oil supply in 2012 to major traders”, (12/12/2011), http://www.libya-businessnews.com/2011/12/21/libya-awards-oil-supply-in-2012-to-major-traders/
 Libya Oil and Gas Summit 2012, official website, http://www.libyasummit2012.com/
 U.S.-Libya Chamber of Commerce, official website, http://uslibyacouncil.org/?page_id=15
 U.S.-Libya Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber Objectives”.
 U.S.-Libya Chamber of Commerce, “2012 Business Missions to Libya”.
 Center for Strategic & International Studies, op.cit.