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As the Libyan rebels continue their advance and claim control of most of Tripoli, the world has begun to speculate about what a post-Gadhafi Libya might look like.

The tumultuous civil war has simultaneously strengthened the Libyan people’s resolve and — as is the case in many armed conflicts — made them vulnerable to outside influences. After months of fighting in a conflict that has involved action by NATO, some have voiced concerns that foreign powers might capitalize on the power vacuum once Gadhafi falls.

Libyan rebel leaders, however, are aware of this possibility and have clearly stated their intention to maintain full autonomy by forbidding NATO and other Western powers from remaining in Libya after the conflict. According to the BBC and Egypt’s Mena state news agency, Abdel Moneim al-Huweini, the Libyan rebel envoy to the Arab League, firmly stated that the rebels will not allow NATO bases on Libyan soil after Gadhafi falls. “Libya is an Arab and Islamic nation before NATO and after NATO,” he said. “Libyans revolted from the 1970s against Western bases, and there will be no non-Libyan bases.”

This resolve to keep outside powers at bay in a new Libya is a sign that the freshly-liberated country would adamantly oppose foreign control and influence. In fact, it was Gadhafi himself who closed American and British bases on Libyan territory following his 1969 coup. The rebel statement suggests that while the rebels hope to end Gadhafi’s oppression, they plan to continue his tradition of Libyan autonomy.

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