LONDON — The death of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi is a triumph which serves as a warning to other Middle East dictators, but concerns linger over the embattled nation’s future, media said Friday.
Newspapers also lauded Britain’s role in bringing about the long-serving ruler’s downfall, but public opinion appeared to be more muted.
“That’s for Lockerbie”, populist tabloid The Sun ran as its headline, above a picture of Kadhafi’s dead body, in reference to the 1988 bombing of a US passenger jet over a Scottish town which killed 270 people.
The Times’ editorial praised the “bravery of the Libyan people” and the “equally honourable” actions of Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for the “swift and timely aid offered in their struggle.”
The Rupert Murdoch-owned title also recognised the “bravery, restraint and determination” of Britain’s armed forces, who helped avert a massacre “on the scale of Srebrenica” in the once-besieged town of Benghazi.
However, only 42 percent of Guardian readers who took part in an online poll said they were proud of Britain’s involvement in Kadhafi’s fall from grace.
Uncertainties remain over the circumstances of Kadhafi’s demise, but The Times reasoned his death was the preferable outcome as a trial “would probably have revealed little that the world did not already know”.
Fellow broadsheet The Daily Telegraph suggested the death had helped redraw the political map of the restive region.
Kadhafi’s ousting, along with those of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, had “undeniably transformed the politics of the Arab world, and we will need to adjust accordingly,” its editorial said.
“For those despots still clinging to power in the region, notably Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the bloodied corpse of Kadhafi should serve as a chilling incentive to political reform,” it added.
The left-leaning Guardian agreed that “there could have been no more prophetic sight for the tyrants who remain” than that of Kadhafi’s body being carried away on a truck.
“This may well be the fate that awaits Assad or Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, and they must now know it,” the paper’s editorial continued.
Looking to the future, the paper urged Libya’s new leaders “to remake a future which guarantees both human rights at home and independence from foreign interference.
“This is a tall order in a country with no democratic tradition and lots of oil,” it cautioned. “The next chapter in the history of Libya has now begun.”
The Times advised Britain to “offer the hand of friendship to the National Transitional Council (NTC)”, the republic’s provisional government.
It also called for perseverance in the face of the “squalls of conflicting ambitions, exaggerated popular expectations and Islamist manoeuvrings” which now appear inevitable.