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What Happens When the Qaddafi Regime Falls?

Editor's Note: As Libyan rebel forces gain control of Tripoli, Libya appears to be on the brink of a transition — from autocratic to democratic rule. In an interview on NPR, Martin Indyk discusses what happens when Qaddafi's regime falls — and what the Libyan National Transitional Council needs to do to help fill the power void.

MELISSA BLOCK, NPR: For more on Libya's political future, we turn to Martin Indyk. He opened communications with Gadhafi's regime when he worked in the State Department under President Clinton. And now at the Brookings Institution, Indyk hosted one of the heads of the Transitional National Council on a visit to Washington. He laid out for us some of the obstacles facing the Libyan opposition's leadership.

MARTIN INDYK: They haven't, it seems, designated a Cabinet yet. They have certain indications of differences between them, and the one unifying factor, of course, is Gadhafi and getting rid of him. So it's possible that one scenario is that they fall apart and start fighting amongst each other. I actually don't think that's what we're going to see, at least not initially. I think that they've had enough time in Benghazi working together to figure out that they have to find a way to work together. So I'm actually optimistic in the short term that they will be able to take over control. 

BLOCK: We are hearing the reports of pretty strong divisions among - within this rebel movement, that the rebels who are in Tripoli now don't necessarily seem to think they're answering to the Transitional National Council in the east of the country in Benghazi. What do you think about that?

INDYK: Well, I think that that's entirely possible in that the uprising that took place in Tripoli was inspired by Benghazi, but the people who are responsible for that haven't been in Benghazi under their control. So there's a big question mark about how this is going to play itself out.

And having said that, I think all the way along, we've kind of recoiled in horror with stories of the ragtag nature of the militias, the killing of the commander in chief, the assassination, the sense that on any particular day that it's all falling apart. But they've managed to do it. And overthrown and - frankly, they've done it more quickly than I think most people expected.

Listen to the full interview or download a transcript at npr.org >>