As rebel forces close in on Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, it becomes ever more important to ask ourselves the question of whether or not this is really a popular uprising. NATO air-strikes played a large role in getting the rebels into the position they are currently in. Without foreign support, there is no question that the rebels would have been crushed. Although this may be the case, how can we be so sure that this is a popular uprising in Libya rather than just a case of foreign nations imposing their will on a nation rich in “black gold”? Russia, among others, has criticized NATO’s involvement saying that oil, not freedom, may be the real motivation (http://news.yahoo.com/russia-envoy-libya-marks-strategic-shift-nato-154237024.html).
In any event, it is not hard to recognize the fact that if NATO wanted this revolution to be over with they could have easily used their airpower and other forces to quell the last of the Gaddafi strongholds. They are not because they need to develop popular support for the transition government. Now that NATO has done the heavy lifting, it seems they are content to let the rebels finish it. Perhaps NATO hopes some of the rebels will be duped into thinking they could have done it without them and that this was truly a people’s revolution. At the same time, however, NATO nations certainly don’t want the new Libya to completely forget them, especially when it comes time to talk oil.
It is safe to say that within a short time Gaddafi’s last strongholds will be overrun and the transition government will assume complete control. When this occurs it will be interesting to see whether they acknowledge the helping hand of NATO or instead try to brush it aside and pretend that they did it by themselves. Did the people of Libya really want this revolution, or were the pushed into it by NATO? Is oil the real motivation behind foreign involvement? Why isn’t NATO getting involved in nations not rich in oil, like Ethopia? And lastly, will the transition government acknowledge the foreign support it received or instead only remember the last few days of the revolution?