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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: The Arab Spring at Five

After Qaddafi

The Surprising Success of the New Libya

An anti-Gaddafi rebel prays and chants along a road during clashes with pro-Qaddafi forces near Ras Lanuf March 8, 2011. Libyan government forces attacked rebels with rockets, tanks and warplanes on western and eastern fronts, intensifying their offensive to crush the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi.  Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

The September 11 killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans during an attack by an angry mob on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi has concentrated the world's attention on the problems of post-Qaddafi Libya. The riots showcased both the power of radical Islamist militias and the inability of the government in Tripoli to provide security and maintain order across the country. Lawlessness and corruption are pervasive, and fundamental questions about the structure and operation of Libyan political and economic institutions remain unanswered. None of this, however, should obscure the fact that the larger story about the new Libya is surprisingly positive. The worst-case scenarios commonly predicted a year ago have not emerged, and there are actually grounds for guarded optimism about the future.

A year and a half ago, Libya seemed as though it would be the country where the Arab Spring came

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