Libyan rebels now almost enjoy a de jure status. The very fact that a large number of Western governments, and many of the Middle Eastern and Arab countries, have acknowledged them as the legitimate representatives of the people of Libya is no small achievement.
The Transitional National Council received a further shot in the arm as the United Arab Emirates on Sunday recognised it as the sole representative of the Libyan people. These once wayward fighters, known as rebels for Tripoli and its embattled leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, are now gradually attaining legality in the diplomatic and geopolitical circles, and by all means can boast of a parallel government in the battle-weary country.
With the West and Arab friends throwing open their coffers for aid and assistance; the TNC has a gigantic task to deliver. Its prime concern should be to ensure that the country is saved from slipping into a civil war and an effective government is in place, at least in territories that are under its control. Similarly, it would be advisable for them not to concentrate on a strategy of protracted warfare against Tripoli, and make use of diplomatic and political channels to ensure Gaddafi’s exit from power. A mix of warfare and pseudo-governance could pose a threat to Libya’s territorial integrity and solidarity. This is why it is important that areas that are under the control of the rebels should be governed in a principled manner by taking care of necessities of life along with the rule of law.
The TNC is in need of impressing the Libyan people with good governance and tactful diplomatic initiatives. Its demand to start oil production at fields should be for the betterment of the locals, who were denied of their rightful share under Gaddafi’s four-decade rule. Similarly, as NATO says that the mission in Libya will go on for as long as it takes, the TNC should not close its door for a dialogue with the holed up leader in Tripoli. Addressing human rights concerns and streamlining supply of food and supplies across the region under their control are issues that will keep the rebels on the edge.
The rebels’ catch will be in restoring stability and successfully channelising their hard-earned international clout for rebuilding Libya as an oasis of stability and progress in the North of Africa. This acknowledgment shouldn’t be merely for power politics.