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Tribal war unlikely

world Updated: Aug 25, 2011 00:46 IST

Libya’s revolutionaries face a tough task as they seek to build a united state on the wreckage of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, but fears of a collapse into tribal civil war are overblown, experts say.

Libya has only been an independent country for 60 years, and for 40 of those Gaddafi’s brutal rule kept the lid on a stew of regional and tribal rivalries that might otherwise have fed a battle for power and for oil revenue. Libyan society is nominally split into around 140 tribes and clans, allied in around 10 tribal coalitions.

Saad Djebbar, a regional expert at the British think tank Chatham House, said that, if the rebels and their Western backers quickly provide enough food and medical aid to reassure local populations that life will be better than it was under Gaddafi, Libya will hold together.