EU members line up for early Libyan victory march

France plans to hold a high level meeting next week to discuss Libya's political future. The top Libyan opposition leader has been invited to Paris to attend.

­Almost every EU state now demonstrates its readiness to participate in the country’s development, simultaneously saying it is the Libyan people who should decide their own future. Even Poland’s foreign minister has said that his country wants to take part, but France is the one taking the lead.

On Wednesday, French president Nicolas Sarkozy will be meeting in Paris with Mahmoud Jibril, the leader of the Libyan rebels. French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet says they will build a roadmap for the future of the country.

European diplomats are explaining that the EU and NATO are seeing the opportunity now to play the leading role in the future of North Africa, with the United States taking a back seat for the moment, as Washington is now overwhelmed by its own domestic political issues. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance will continue with its mission of protecting Libyan civilians.

German leader Angela Merkel says she will “unfreeze” Libyan assets: “Gaddafi’s money must be secured in the name of the Libyan people,” she said. It is unclear, however, who will control that money and how it will be used.

The rebels were united with the single goal of getting rid of Gaddafi. As soon as that is no longer the case, they have very little else in common, and defense experts fear that may lead to an even bloodier civil war, should they fail to find common ground.

Marat Terterov, head of the European Geopolitical Forum, agrees that the most intriguing question right now is whether the Libyan tribes will be able to hold together and form a stable governing authority. But no matter what, he says, the West will make sure its interests are secured.

“Western forces will undoubtedly look to both intervene and assert their influence within any post-Gaddafi governing structure in Libya,” Terterov said. “And that’s also because they are providing a lot of aid: London has unfrozen a lot of assets, up to around two billion dollars, as being mentioned.”

­Ian Shapiro, professor of political science at Yale University, thinks the high number of former Gaddafi officials among the rebel leadership raises doubts over whether a new regime will be any different from the old one.

“We know very little about the agenda of the forces that are coming to power,” he said, recalling that these new leaders have all served as Gaddafi functionaries at some time.

“These leaders of the National Transitional Council – they certainly know no history as democrats. They have been associated with the Gaddafi regime for a very long time.”