In less than three weeks, an inchoate opposition in Libya, has cobbled together the semblance of a transitional government, fielded a ragtag rebel army and portrayed itself to the West and Libyans as an alternative to Muammar Gaddafi’s four decades of rule.
But events this week have tested the viability of an opposition that has yet to coalesce, even as it solicits help from abroad to topple Gaddafi.
The question of the opposition’s capabilities is likely to prove decisive to the fate of the rebellion, which appears outmatched by government forces and troubled by tribal divisions. Rebel forces are fired more by enthusiasm than experience.
The political leadership has virtually begged the international community to recognise it, but it has yet to marshal opposition forces abroad or impose its authority in regions it nominally controls.
Others have expressed a more lurking concern: in a protracted fight, it may grow difficult to maintain the unity the opposition has sought to bridge religious and tribal divides.