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Tribal Warfare Could Hobble Libya’s Future

TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 23 (UPI) — As Libyans celebrate the rebel seizure of Moammar Gadhafi’s compound, there are worries tribal warfare will engulf the country, observers said.

There are concerns of backlash against more than 30 tribes who had benefited from Gadhafi’s 42-year-rule, Britain’s Daily Mirror reported Tuesday.

Heavily armed rival clans, many of which suffered under the Libyan regime, could battle for supremacy once Gadhafi is gone.

Gadhafi kept the most politically powerful of the country’s approximately 140 tribes loyal to him with gifts of land, jobs and cash, and they will defend their position of power against rival tribes, experts said.

“Libya is probably the most tribal of Arab countries and you cannot overestimate how potent a force the tribe is in Libya,” a western security source told the Mirror.

“In some areas tribal loyalty comes above everything else. It is beyond family and friendship — it is like a blood bond that goes back centuries, burned into their very being.”

“From top to bottom it means Gadhafi had control through a system of fear and favor,” he said.

The end of Gadhafi’s rule does not guarantee an end to violence, he said.

“Opposing tribes have long memories and will want to settle old scores.”

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