Will a post-Qaddafi Libya avoid anarchy?(Read article summary)
Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the big concern in Libya is whether there will be a competent caretaker government after Qaddafi's inevitable demise.
AP Photo/Hussein Malla
Libya may descend into civil war. Or Muammar Qaddafi may realize that his cause is lost and flee in the hopes of sparing his family and cronies. Or more elements in the military may revolt, turning the tide in favor of the opposition.
One way or the other, the Libyan situation will end with Qaddafi passing from the scene. He may have troops and weapons, but without supply lines, he is under siege and eventually will be worn down and ousted.
How the political systems evolve in those countries is an open question, but both at least have a leadership cadre that is holding things together. Libya needs that as well. As more military and government official defect to the opposition, a group that may be able to manage after Qaddafi could be forming.
But the one-man show that was Qaddafi makes the Libyan transition more difficult than others after he is gone. That uncertainty -- combined with continued unrest elsewhere in the Middle East -- is likely to lead to continued volatility on oil and financial markets. What happens in the days ahead in the days ahead, in other words, could reverberate well beyond North Africa.