Former Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi is dead from wounds he suffered during his capture near his hometown of Sirte, according to Reuters reports. If the news turns out to be true, it would be great news for the people of Libya who have long suffered under Qadhafi's tyrannical rule and who have waged a months-long civil war to end the decades-old dictatorship. However, just as the death of Saddam Hussein did not mark the end of hostilities in Iraq and the death of Osama bin Laden did not spell the end of al-Qaeda, so it is also true that much work remains to ensure that Libya's future is secure.
Qadhafi was reportedly captured in his hometown of Sirte amid news that the Transitional National Council (TNC) finally took control of the city after weeks of fighting. Reuters reports:
National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters earlier that Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked.
"He was also hit in his head," the official said. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died."
Celebrations erupted in the capital city of Tripoli, and Libyan Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam said, "It's a great victory for the Libyan people." But Heritage's James Carafano notes that the work is just beginning for Libya's government:
Libya's new government has a long to-do list. It can only be hoped that disarmament and reintegration goes quickly and the new government focuses on civil society, economic growth, and keeping out extremist influences.
In August, Libya's rebel forces took control of Libya and effectively ended the Qadhafi dictatorship. The TNC went on to kill or capture key members of Qadhafi's regime. However, though the TNC has shown that it is capable of maintaining domestic political legitimacy and authority, it is now responsible for an orderly transition to a new representative government.
The war has left Libya's population divided according to political, tribal, and local factions. The U.S. should work with the TNC to make sure that Islamist extremists seeking to hijack the democratic process are not successful, and it should be prepared to assist the TNC in restoring the rule of law. And Heritage's James Phillips writes that securing the Libyan army's dangerous weaponry, including anti-aircraft missiles known as MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems), should also be a high priority.
Though the end of the civil war in Libya appears to be near, now the work of reconstruction begins. Hopefully, Libya can form a new democracy as it clears away the rubble of the Qadhafi regime.