Some analysis on the Libyan election results


It is still early days, and the results are not officially declared, yet in a way I feel somewhat vindicated in my own analysis regarding the psyche of the Libyan people. I suspected that the Libyans would not necessarily go for the Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and the results that have been published to date actually justify my own position. It seems to me that the Libyans have proved themselves to be far more mature in their outlook than either Tunisia or Egypt. Perhaps it is because in neither of those countries they suffered oppression in the way that Libyans had suffered, despite what was claimed to the contrary.

Jibril is a devout Muslim and nothing changes in Libya which is already an Islamic state. What will be removed will be the Communism imposed upon the people by Gadhafi. A lot of people have not understood the underlying dynamics of what actually took place last year, and why it was that people who eschew violence (the majority in Libya) were prepared to fight to the death to get rid of the most hated Moammar Gadhafi. Without understanding those dynamics one cannot do proper analysis. It must be remembered that a lot of Libyans had gone into Western countries to complete their university studies. They have gone in particular to the U.K. as well as to the USA. Many of those who had remained in those overseas countries returned during the civil war and they took an active role in what took place.

Today, Reuters publishes an analysis of the election result. The writer seems somewhat dazed that Libya did not follow in the footsteps of both Egypt and Tunisia (and yet I am not surprised by the result). The journalist has done a little bit of homework and actually spoken to some people to gauge the feelings of those who voted. Here is an example:

Local political analyst Nasser Ahdash said many Libyans had believed that voting for avowedly Islamist parties would have alienated international allies and only prolonged the isolation from the rest of the world they suffered under Gaddafi.

“Libyans are sick and tired of being closed off from the world. They spent 42 years under the iron clamp of Gaddafi and being cut out from the rest of the planet,” said Ahdash.

“The experience of Egypt with the Brotherhood probably scared some Libyans into voting for Jibril’s camp,” he said of the power struggle now being played out in Cairo between the Islamists and army generals determined to retain influence.

Other factors appeared to play against the Islamists.

Some Libyans find hard to swallow the fact that the Brotherhood brokered deals with the Gaddafi government a decade ago to release hundreds of their members from jail.

Local perceptions that Justice and Construction have ties with the Egypt Brotherhood and that al-Watan is close to Qatar – even if not supported by clear evidence – also played against them.

It looks like the Libyans are a wake up and they do not want to lose their newly won freedom. They had decades of suppression under Gadhafi, which I might add included religious suppression, the clsoing down and bulldozing of some of their mosques, as well as suppression against some of the ethnic minorities amongst the Berber in the western mountains. These are the minorities who played a very big role in the overthrow of Tripoli.

On top of that prior to Gadhafi Libya had a history of co-operating with the West, in particular with France and Britain. Older Libyans in the east of the country had not forgotten that the British helped them to overthrow the Italians as their colonial masters.

From the time I began keeping an eye on the conflict as it played out last year I had been aware of the various tensions between the parties that had come together to overthrow Gadhafi. Even at the earliest stages many in Benghazi would not have got involved except that Gadhafi had decided to punish the whole town by shelling and bombing them, and by killing people as they were in a funeral procession. Even the man who made an ultimate sacrifice of setting up his vehicle as a bomb, had a sudden change of mind becuase he could not stomach what was happening as the forces had continued to shoot at and kill people in the streets. He was a man who had eschewed the rigidity of Islamism and all it entailed, yet he rigged up his car as a bomb and breeched the fort. We may not understand why he did this yet we need to accept that for some people there were limits about how much more they would take from an oppressor like Gadhafi.

What is relevant in the above comments though, is that Libyans had been suspicious of Muslim Brotherhood and their co-operation with Gadhafi. They are also suspicious of those aligned with Qatar. This is why neither of those parties gained any traction in this result, although they gained some votes. It is also why the people have gone with those who are moderate in their Islamic outlook. This is not surprising, considering that the majority of Libyans belong to a form of Islam based on the Sufi school of thought.

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