The death of Qaddafi will have implications on many levels. Firstly in terms of operations, and the future efforts to rebuild Libya, it will mean an end of the major military campaign in the north of the country—particularly after the fall of Sirte and Bani Walid. The morale of the remaining loyalists will likely crumble following the demise of their figurehead.
We might, however, now see an insurgency in the south, especially around the area of Sabha. The fact that Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi is still at large is of great significance. He has played an instrumental role in the loyalist campaign against the Transitional National Council forces, and may now take on a leadership role for the remaining insurgents. That said, the death of Qaddafi the father will give an important boost to the reconstruction process in Libya, as the opportunity for further disruptions to that process will diminish.
Also on the operational level, there will be important implications for NATO and its involvement in the ongoing efforts to secure the country. The death of Qaddafi raises questions about the continued validity operations under UN Security Council resolution 1973 which was designed to ensure the “protection of civilians.” It may soon be necessary to return to the UN for a new mandate.
Perhaps the greatest significance of the killing of Qaddafi is on the psychological level. It will provide closure for the millions of Libyans who have suffered under his rule, allowing them to move on and contribute to the rebuilding of their country. Beyond Libya itself, it will provide inspiration to those who have risked so much in rising up against their rulers—particularly in Syria and Yemen—showing that there is an end to the long road of revolution.
[The resignation of assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Wess Mitchell] is surprising news, which seems to have caught everyone off guard. He doesn’t appear to have shared this news with his ambassadors, who were in Washington last week for a global chiefs of mission conference. His deputy is also slated to retire soon, which raises question of near term leadership on European policy at a time of challenges there.
[Wess] Mitchell was a strong supporter of NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe where he will be sorely missed. His departure comes follows the resignation of senior Pentagon officials – Robert Karem and Tom Goffus – working on NATO along with Secretary Mattis. Without this pro-alliance caucus, NATO is now more vulnerable than at any time since the beginning of the Trump administration.