Libya in the stranglehold of Islamist thugs

Libyan failed state

By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

How did it come to this?

After 42 years of  tyranny and arbitrary rule by the Gaddafi family, Libyans rose up and sacrificed thousands of people to gain freedom and dignity.

But today Libyans have neither freedom nor dignity, nor even basic security.

Instead, the tyranny has been handed over from the Gaddafi family to the thugs of the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar al-Sharia and other ultra-primitive Islamist criminal gangsters, especially in Benghazi – the cradle of the 17 February 2011 revolution – and other towns in the east of Libya.

As shown in the pictures below, taken recently and tweeted by Rida @libyanproud, the criminals of Ansar al-Sharia nowadays can be seen not just wielding machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, but heavy weapons, such as armoured personnel carriers. Their aim? Follow us or we’ll blow you up to pieces.

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And the “government”? It does not exist. Today in Libya there is no government, no police and no army, at least not as commonly understood.

In October 2011, days after the demise of Muammar Gaddafi, the National Transitional Council (NTC) – the interim body which took over the running of the country at least on paper – set itself an ambitious timetable of 20 months for the transition to a state with democratic institutions, namely:

  • November 2011: the replacement of the NTC by an interim government
  • July 2012: elections for a constituent assembly to write a new constitution and decide on a system of government, and
  • July 2013: elections for a legislature and a head of state.

Only two have been met. The first, the replacement of the NTC by an interim government, is quite meaningless – it has been a transition from the NTC to a “government” whose writ does not hold even inside the buildings it occupies. The second, elections for a constituent assembly – the General National Council (GNC) – were held on time, in July 2012, and saw a victory for a coalition of broadly secular parties and a resounding defeat for the fascist Muslim Brotherhood, the mother of all Islamist thugs.

But rather than succumb to the will of the people, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Al-Qaeda-inspired allies set about seizing power by force of arms.

Thus, on 5 March 2013 the GNC was attacked and its members assaulted, in an attempt to exercise pressure until a Muslim Brotherhood-drafted law was adopted. Six weeks later, Islamist militias laid siege to the GNC and the ministries of foreign affairs, justice, interior, finance, water and electricity. They continued their siege until an unconstitutional session of the GNC, which was not chaired by the speaker, voted in the law.

… rather than succumb to the will of the people, the Muslim Brotherhood and it’s Al-Qaeda-inspired allies set about seizing power by force of arms.

The law in question, the political isolation law, forbids people who served in senior positions under the Gaddafi regime from political participation and public office, and constitutionally prohibits any kind of review of it. Since anybody who is vaguely capable of doing a half-decent job in government or administration had served under Gaddafi, what this law did was maximise the chances that any public office would be filled by the fascists of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies.

It is the ultimate contempt for the will of the people. Moreover, as pointed out by Hani Nesira of Al-Arabiya Institute for Studies,

The political isolation law is a recipe for abusing, rather than rewarding and recognizing, the efforts of those who defected from the ousted regime, such as Mahmoud Jibril [and] Abdul Azeem Shalqam…

The law deprives them of their basic rights, as well as the right to reap the benefits of their sacrifice. It has been described by analysts as worse than the Iraqi de-Baathification law.

Back in February 2011, just three days after the start of the revolt against the Gaddafi regime, I wrote a piece apologising for the time it took me to disabuse myself of the unfounded hope that the regime might redeem itself (“Turning against Muammar Gaddafi of Libya”). Among other things, I said:

To be sure, the absence of a decent, credible Libyan opposition did little to speed up my awakening. For many years, the choice was Gaddafi, the Islamists or the ultra-reactionary, super-rich monarchists. There were no – and as far as I am aware, there still are not – any significant, progressive, democratic Libyan opposition. For many years, therefore, my choice had to be Gaddafi, warts and all.

As I wrote those word, I was hoping in my heart of hearts, but without any evidence, that there was in fact a “significant, progressive, democratic Libyan opposition” and that I was simply unaware of its existence.

It is with deep sadness and despair that I admit that, once again, I was wrong. There are no organized, progressive and democratic Libyan political movements to speak of.

Without a doubt, there are plenty of Libyans who yearn to breath the air of freedom, be left to get on with their lives and have a say in who runs their country and how it is run. That much was clear from the results of the July 2012 constituent assembly elections noted above, and from the mass eruption of popular anger against the armed Islamist thugs in September 2012, which resulted in the temporary eviction of those thugs from Benghazi.

But those decent people are disparate and disorganized. And they are no match for the heavily armed Islamist fascists and goons.

Libya, we regret to say, may have passed the point of no return, just as Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo had done before it.

May those who fought and died to free Libyans from the tyranny of the Gaddafi family rest in piece.

Their sacrifices have been in vain.

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