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This Week: A New Libya
Image by Nicolas Pelham. Libya, 2013.
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Published October 8, 2013
TOM HUNDLEY, SENIOR EDITOR
LOSING LIBYA’S REVOLUTION
Does anyone miss Qaddafi? Not really. But as Nicolas Pelham reports in a series of dispatches for The New York Review of Books, the Libyan Revolution of 2011 has not delivered on the reforms that so many had anticipated. And the worst may be yet to come.
“It is perhaps a measure of how close Libya is to breaking apart that two years after ousting one dictator, many Libyans are craving another. Rapacious brigades of armed volunteers, who are based in Misrata and Benghazi in the east, and the creaking military inherited from the old regime, which is based in the capital city of Tripoli and the west, are hurtling toward a new civil war, and the country’s ineffectual authorities seem unable to stop them,” Nicolas writes.
Libyans are now able to sleep at night undisturbed by gunfire. The traffic lights work and most of the revolutionary rubble has been cleared away. But, as Nicolas reports, the organs of state do not really function: “Pincered between the two forces of old revolutionary and new revolutionary Libya, Libya’s government of technocrats and émigrés is too weak to harness either.”
Nobody in Libya seriously longs for “the good old days” of Qaddafi, but Nicolas says that most Libyans would appreciate someone strong enough to unify a country on the verge of breaking apart.
UNFORGIVING LAWS
Since 2006, El Salvador has been one of seven countries in the world that enforces a strict ban on abortions, even when a mother’s life is at grave risk. A woman who undergoes an abortion faces a possible 30-year prison sentence.
“This controversial law made headlines in July 2013 when the highest courts denied a life-saving abortion to ‘Beatriz,’ a woman with lupus and kidney failure. The fetus she was carrying suffered from anencephaly, a partially developed brain cavity that virtually guarantees the baby will not survive outside the womb,” writes Eleanor Klibanoff in a report for the Thomson Reuters Foundation website.
“After weeks of waiting, doctors sidestepped the legal minefield by delivering via emergency cesarean section. Beatriz survived; the baby did not.”
Eleanor is a student fellow from The George Washington University, one of our Campus Consortium partners. For her reporting project, she traveled to El Salvador and Nicaragua for an intimate look at how recent anti-abortion laws are impacting women’s lives.
“These neighboring Central American countries stand at the intersection of revolution and religion, governed by leftist leaders but still under the control of the powerful Catholic and Evangelical churches. Politicians, religious leaders and activists, both foreign and local, frequently use policies to advance their own agendas on both sides of the issue,” says Eleanor.
PROJECT
The Creative Chaos of Libya
Despairing of the ability of their squabbling leaders and militiamen to reestablish the state, Libyans are busy reviving the country on their own.
RECENTLY
October 3, 2013 / The New York Review of Books
Libya: In Search of a Strongman
NICOLAS PELHAM
As multiple forces assert power in different parts of the country, many feel that only a strongman can hold Libya together. But who could it be?
October 2, 2013 / The New York Review of Books
Losing Libya’s Revolution
NICOLAS PELHAM
Qaddafi is gone and Libya is coming apart. As Nicolas Pelham reports here, revolutions are hard to get right.
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Tom Hundley
Pulitzer Center staff
Before joining the Pulitzer Center, Tom Hundley was a newspaper journalist for 36 years, including nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. During that time he...
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