Dr. Mohamed Chtatou is a Professor at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat. He is currently a political analyst with Moroccan, Saudi and British media on politics and culture in the Middle East and Islam and teaching Community Based Learning and Amazigh ...
Rabat -The Libya of today, is no more the Libya we used to know, it is changing for the worse, at the speed of light.
The Islamists of Tripoli have gone the extra mile and have booted the last ministries of the government entrusted to rule the country by the elected assembly, out of the capital to their exile seat in Tobrouk. Their argument on that is that they did not get rid of the dictator Gadhafi to bring in Western Christian democracy, the Libyan people want the government of Sharia. So after this incident, the forced coexistence with the liberals is definitely a thing of the past.
The “paper” government and the “paper” assembly are now squatting the coastal town Tobrouk, known for its airbase, with no power, no future prospects and no money. They have gone that far east for two basic reasons: to be close to Egypt to seek help to reconquer the country, but that seems to be rather a wishful thinking, and if all fails, find shelter in this country. But by being territorially in Libya, they are, quite rightly, clinging to the elusive hope that the West might come to their rescue and restore their legitimacy by the use of force. They might well do that because Libya is an oil-rich country and the Islamists cannot be entrusted with it, for obvious reasns. But, on the other hand, the West is not ready to commit troops to a land-based risky operation, that could ultimately be costly in human life.
Emboldened by these basic facts, the Islamists are planning, according to Libyan democratic sources, to declare, sooner than soon, their own Islamic state, and by so doing, join their Islamists brethern in Iraq, and Boko Haram in Nigeria. This might sound an excellent piece of news to Abou Baker al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant because his invention/creation is definitely having a domino effect, but on the other hand he will be saddened by the fact that neither Boko Haram nor the Libyans will express allegiance to him as the Supreme Calif, since the concept of the Ummah does not seem to overrule, anymore, the modern nation-state principle.
Islamist militias refuse to cede authority to the Chamber of Deputies. Fajr Libya (Dawn of Libya) operation was conducted jointly by the pro-Islamist Shields of Libya forces, and Ansar Sharia to dislodge forces close to liberals in the vicinity of the Tripoli airport. The allied forces of Misrata against those of Zentan. However, once the airport, or what remains of it, fell into the hands of Islamists, the language was not uniform among these conquering forces.
Discordant Islamists’ voices
Various press releases with divergent content, all claiming to speak for the Fajr Libya operation have been made public. So, On August 31, a first release, signed by the Council of Shura of Tripoli, expressed “the acceptance by Fajr Libya authority of the Chamber of Deputies,” elected on June 25. “We just require the strict application of the small Constitution, with a transfer of power to rule,” said Mohamed Hadia, spokesman for Fajr Libya, in a speech aired by TV Misrata. The Misrati responsible has even pledged to “leave the Chamber of Deputies to work without any stress or interference and protect its premises.”
On September 1, the Ansar Sharia group, stakeholder in Fajr Libya, rejected the contents of this statement and announced “its opposition to Western Christian democracy and its commitment to the application of Islamic Sharia all over the Libyan territory.” The statement reminded “allies” that “the Libyan people did not oust Moammar Gadhafi to establish Western democracy but rather the law of Allah.”
The militia coalition Fajr Libya, including Islamists, took control of the Embassy of the United States in south Tripoli on September 1. The militiamen say they entered the complex of several villas to secure the area and prevent them from being looted. “We invite diplomatic missions to return to Tripoli, however in the meantime, we are here to secure the premises,” said a member of the militia on condition of anonymity. Nonetheless, this symbolic occupation of the US Embassy, which according to international law is American property that enjoys extraterritoral status, is a stern message meant to America that supports the liberal government: the true masters of today’s LIbya are the Islamists not the liberals. The United States evacuated their entire diplomatic staff from their embassy in Libya late July, a diplomatic mission which found itself amid heavy fighting between rival militias on the road to Tripoli airport since July 12.
Emergence of the Islamic State
After the fall of Gadhafi, the new authorities have failed to ensure the country’s stability. The various elections held so far, from which emerged new instances failed to neutralize the former insurgents who have formed themselves into armed militias. The problem being is that all these different groups, belonging to different religious schools of thought have each their own vision of the state to be and are not ready to accept the vision of the other. In a word, the tribal instinct disguised in religious belief is leading the country towards tribal feuds that will undoubtedly aggravate the actual instability and lead to total chaos. If it is not checked now, chaos will last for years to come or might even lead to the fragmentation of Libya, as we know it today.
The establishement of the Islamic State of Libya (ISL) is imminent, but knowing the tribal tendency of the Libyan people, that was stifled by the dictatorial regime of Gadhafi for almost half a century, will not unite the Libyans under the banner of Islam, for each tribe has its own interpretation of Islamic faith that it believes to be the right one. So, disunity will be the recurrent state of affairs, unless a strong and charismatic leader, of the Gadhafi kind, rises from the crowd to unify again the modern religious tribes by the use of raw and brutal force. Otherwise, Libya will go undeniably back to the Middle Ages, on the grounds of the tribal concept “me and my brother against my cousin,” a sad outcome of the Arab Spring in this oil-rich country, alas.