13 September 2011 Last updated at
Libya conflict: Q&A
After storming the centre of Tripoli on 21 August, the forces that toppled Col Muammar Gaddafi are trying to find the fugitive former leader and take control of a few last strongholds. Meanwhile, interim leaders are moving from Benghazi to the capital and turning their attention to running the country as it emerges from nearly 42 years of Col Gaddafi's rule.
Why did the rebels want to oust Col Gaddafi?
He ruled Libya with an iron fist since he seized power in a 1969 coup. Students were forced to study his political theories, as set out in his Green Book.
Political parties were banned and his critics imprisoned, tortured and on some occasions killed. After the overthrow of the leaders of Libya's neighbours, Tunisia and Egypt, some Libyans staged protests to demand change. But Col Gaddafi's government used overwhelming force against the demonstrators in Tripoli and then started to move on the second city, Benghazi, where the rebels had seized control.
Why did other countries intervene?
It was feared that an assault on Benghazi, a city of a million people, would be brutal. Over the years, Col Gaddafi had fallen out with both his neighbours and the West, although he had bankrolled many African leaders. The Arab League asked the United Nations to intervene to protect the civilians in Benghazi. In March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution which authorised "all necessary measures"
- except troops on the ground - to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians. Nato planes then started bombing government forces, who retreated from the outskirts of Benghazi.
So was Nato backing the rebels?
Nato officials strongly deny that they acted as the "opposition's air force"
or even that they had direct contact with them. However, reporters with the rebels noted that the pro-Gaddafi forces in front of rebel positions would often be bombed, making the opposition advance much easier. Since the storming of Tripoli, the UK has confirmed that Nato is providing "intelligence and reconnaissance" to help the rebels track down Col Gaddafi. Earlier, the French admitted giving weapons to the rebels, while other countries have provided training and logistical support to the rebels, who are mostly civilians. Both Western and Arab leaders openly said they wanted Col Gaddafi to go.
Why did it take so long?
What happens next?
The first task will be to find Col Gaddafi, who has been indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court over his forces' suppression of the initial uprising. His whereabouts are unknown
; rumours abound, including speculation that he might be trying to flee south to another African country. Until he is caught, there is the possibility his loyalists could continue to use guerrilla tactics to destabilise the anti-Gaddafi forces as they try to establish themselves in power. The National Transitional Council (NTC) has been moving from the eastern city of Benghazi as it tries to assert its authority. But it faces a challenge
reining in different military groups and limiting rivalries between potentially competing interests and allegiances. Without the unifying goal of ousting Col Gaddafi, there are fears that interim authorities could start arguing among themselves. The NTC wants a national congress elected within eight months, and multi-party polls in 2013. Meanwhile, the new rulers have to try to improve the lives of ordinary Libyans and avoid the post-revolution disillusionment seen in Egypt and Tunisia. To do this they will need money.
Where will the funds come from?
The rebels' National Transitional Council's (NTC) says it is seeking $2.5bn (£1.5bn) in immediate aid. An estimated $53bn of assets were frozen during the conflict - but it can take time for them to be unfrozen. A UN sanctions committee has agreed to release $500m of frozen assets to humanitarian agencies. But South Africa, which led the African initiative to find a diplomatic solution to the Libyan conflict, has blocked releasing a further $1bn, saying it wants to wait for guidance from the African Union. Col Gaddafi was one of the main founders of the AU - which has not yet recognised the rebel leadership as Libya's legitimate authority - and its key financial backer. South Africa cannot block the unfreezing of the rest of Libyan assets indefinitely, as it has no veto at the UN Security Council. The Arab League, however, has now given its full backing to the NTC, which may lead to more countries offering aid.
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