It looks like the moderate party formed by Jibril has won a majority in Libya, and now Jibril is calling on all parties to help form a coalition for the governing of the country. It is still very early days for the new Libya…. and there is many a slip twixt the cup and the lip as the saying goes. Once again, in this analysis there is a little bit of information that needs exposure.
According to the Guardian, the academics and advisors did not see this contrary outcome and I cannot imagine why they did not see that there would be a different outcome from either that of Tunisia and Egypt. According to this report:
Election officials confirmed on Saturday that with 98% of votes from last weekend’s election, the first in Libya for 48 years, the NFA and its allies won 17 of the 20 “super constituencies”, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party capturing only one.
“Nobody saw this coming,” said Dirk Vandewalle, a US academic and former adviser to UN special envoy for Libya, Ian Martin. “The rule – all oil-exporting countries in the Middle East always being authoritarian – may have been proved wrong by Libya. There’s a whole academic literature about this [and] it will have to be rewritten.”
This has only come about because the academics did not do their research on Libya. They knew Libya under Moammar Gadhafi but they had no clue about the old Libya under king Idris, or Libya as a colony of Italy. To repeat the history lesson here: Libya had been under Italian colonial rule, Idris, who was head of the Sanusi sect in Libya made an agreement with the Allied Forces to defeat the opposing forces, and in return he would receive help to overthrow the colonial masters. This occurred after the end of the second world war, and then Idris became king in Libya. It was Idris who was overthrown by Gadhafi. This history is important in understanding the Libyan situation and especially why the people of the East in particular hated Gadhafi. I need to add a bit more to that history – the people of the West, in particular in Tripoli did not want to end the colonial rule, and Gadhafi’s family were a part of that particular resistance. A relative of King Idris took a minor role in the revolution that occurred last year.
Dirk Vandewalle makes his error because he lumped Libya in with Egypt and Tunisia. Time and time again I saw people writing about the influence of Muslim Brotherhood, raising fears that Muslim Brotherhood would also prevail in Libya. The problem here is that no one bothered to think about whether or not Libyans wanted to swap one kind of dictatorial yoke for another yoke. No one bothered to analyse the fact that Libya is already a Muslim country with Sharia in place. Nobody bothered to listen to the people who stated that they were in fact pro-western.
This is where historical information needs to be reviewed, and again one needs to look at Libya under the rule of Idris. It was probably not a perfect society, but the thing is that under Idris Libya had been pro-West, and it had been neutral as far as Israel was concerned. The anti-Israel stuff began only after Gadhafi came to power. Idris was not a Communist.
Since I have not studied the history of Tunisia I am unable to comment upon such things as possible Communist leanings, and I cannot comment upon the dictatorship that was overthrown by the people. The fact is that the Tunisians chose the party that was in fact Muslim Brotherhood, as opposed parties that were more left-wing in outlook, or were tied to the Salafists. Maybe they had no other alternative. I have not really checked out the history of Tunisia to find out why they made that mistake of trusting Ennhaba.
Since I began following what was happening in Libya I was struck by the fact that the people had suffered in silence the dictatorship of Libya. It seems that the Western world had remained largely ignorant about the struggles within that country. The people were not allowed to form any political parties, and those who did were either tortured or murdered by the regime. Mr. Belhadj, the leader of the party that was pro-Qatar, is one such person. Yes, it is true he had some links to Al Qaeda, but he was never serious about some aspects of jihad. He was captured and tortured by Gadhafi and what he endured was really quite unspeakable, yet that torture gave him resolve and determination to participate in the overthrow of Gadhafi. There were others just like Mr. Belhadj, in that they are fundamentalist in outlook. These fundamentalists have not prevailed because people do not want to swap one yoke for another. Instead they have pinned their hopes on a party that they perceive will help to bring Libya out of isolation.
The real comparison though, is not on Belhadj’s party but on the one set up by Muslim Brotherhood. They were soundly defeated. It seems that Libyans do not trust Muslim Brotherhood. The article actually points to possible reasons why this might be the case. It seems that there is a lack of trust towards the Muslim Brotherhood because of their cooperation with Gadhafi.
It seems to me that the analysts failed to see that Libya would buck the trend because of their own tunnel vision. They see the Middle East in one specific way. Yet they have failed to understand that Libyans are not Arabs, just like Iranians are not Arabs. It is not possible to determine how these people will think… especially when they failed to research the history of the country or to even grasp that the reason that the Libyan opposition (to Gadhafi) reached out to NATO, the UK and France in the first place was due to the fact that they wanted to come out of the cold.
On the other hand, Egyptians are of the Arab culture. In that country, and in Tunisia there seems to be a hankering for a more fundamentalist lifestyle, or it could be that the Muslim Brotherhood had wormed their way into the hearts of the people through their “charitable” works. By doing those “works” the MB were in fact being remembered in a good light rather than in a light which would be closer to the truth.
Elections have consequences, and it would seem that in Egypt the ones who voted were more included towards Muslim Brotherhood than they were inclined towards liberal leftists. In Libya it seems that the people wanted a party that will guide the country towards propserity.