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Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was ousted by parliament recently and has fled the country as chaos is threatening to erupt in this country. Discontent had been building up for the last 15 months. But things came to a head after rebel groups began exporting their own oil, including loading a North Korean tanker. The military revolted against Zeidan at that point; they were either unwilling or unable to fire on it and let it get away.

The debacle underlines the impotence of the authorities in Tripoli, whose fledgling army and police force are no match for the armed rebel groups who continue to operate under their own set of laws three years after the fall of strong-man Muammar Gaddafi.

After the tanker escaped, an infuriated parliament voted out Zeidan on Tuesday and named Defense Minister Abdallah al-Thinni as acting prime minister for two weeks. Later that same day, Libya's top prosecutor slapped a travel ban on Zeidan because of his suspected involvement in the embezzlement of public funds.

Western powers, who supported the NATO campaign that came to the aid of anti-Gaddafi rebels in 2011, fear the OPEC member state could slide into greater instability or even break apart, with rival groups laying claim to power and vast oil reserves.

The tanker in question carried $36 million worth of oil. Had it been bombed, it would have created a major environmental catastrophe that would have taken months or years to clean up.

Rebel groups had been demanding more and more autonomy and a greater share of the oil revenues that they did not have under Gaddafi. They seized control of a lot of the oil reserves and the army and police have been powerless to stop them. After the bombing campaign by NATO which drove Gaddafi from power, it created a power vacuum in that country which nobody has been able to fill. These events undermine any claims that regime change is an effective tool. It is easy to remove dictators that you don't like; it is a lot harder to build institutions back up again afterwards.

Zeidan was under investigation for corruption, including massive embezzlement.

Malek said his party is considering launching a lawsuit against Zeidan, adding that the leader spent an estimated $66 billion during his administration "and achieved nothing on the ground."

Libya's chief prosecutor on Tuesday banned Zeidan from leaving the country while authorities investigate allegations of Zeidan's corruption.

And oil production declined to one seventh of what it used to be and the government was forced to dip into reserves to pay its public employees.

Rebel groups had seized three oil ports in August.

Armed protesters controlling ports in eastern Libya said on Saturday they had started independently exporting oil, bypassing the central government in their demands for a share of the nation's petroleum wealth.

The rebels, who have seized three major ports since August to demand more autonomy, warned Tripoli against staging an attack to halt the oil sale after a North Korean-flagged tanker docked at Es Sider.

As we learned in Afghanistan and Iraq, it takes at least a decade to rebuild institutions after a regime change. The cost of such a project costs trillions of your taxpayer dollars. But what we learned from Libya is that simply driving the leader from power and then leaving is not an effective response either. The result is a weak central government with no control over its outlying provinces. We could very well see Libya splinter into several different tiny countries or autonomous regions with few resources at their disposal. The end result could be another humanitarian disaster.
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