Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Analysis: Could Libya split along tribal lines?

Libya's fledgling National Transitional Council (NTC) -- a Benghazi-based political grouping of anti-Gadhafi rebels -- stands on the cusp of power.

But are skeptics justified in arguing that the NTC is incapable of holding together serious tribal and regional divisions to the point where political order will simply collapse?

Consider the tribal question first. This requires some nuance. Libya has roughly 140 tribes and clans, and some traverse the country's borders with Egypt and Tunisia. But only a couple of dozen tribes are politically consequential.

Moreover, decades of urbanization have seen a dilution in tribal identity to the point where many in a large city like Tripoli would see little political significance in their membership. more