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The central purpose of the Libyan election is to maintain the illusion of stability even as the fighting goes on. Benghazi, the “cradle of the revolution,” whose clashes with Gaddafi’s forces were used by Obama to justify the bombing of Libya, is still at war. The Libyan provisional government has already threatened that it will use force to suppress the Cyrenaica National Council, which seeks autonomy for Eastern Libya.
Before long the fighting in Benghazi will force the new Libyan government to engage in a crackdown similar to the one that was carried out by Gaddafi. There are reports that this may be happening in parts of Libya already. But don’t look for Obama to run to the UN Security Council for another No Fly Zone, when it’s the NFA and the Brotherhood killing Benghazi civilians.
Benghazi may be bad, but Tripoli isn’t that much better. There is still gunfire in the Libyan capital and rogue militias are out there looting and raiding. Unlike the Egyptian election, the Libyan election is not about finalizing a government. Its goal is to unite as many groups as possible behind a version of the existing authorities in order to calm the situation.
The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, in its various forms, has not yet made its full bid for power, but it has established itself as the single largest united faction in the country. Unlike the NFA it is not dependent on a hodgepodge of small factions. The name of its largest party, the Justice and Construction Party, is a statement of short term goals.
As the West sends money to reconstruct Libya, a good deal of those contracts will go to Muslim Brotherhood businessmen with construction companies. While NFA chieftains sit on the boards of national companies, like Abdul Rahman Al Shater, the Secretary-General of the NFA and the CEO of Libya’s national telecommunications company, the Brotherhood’s big wheels will carve out their own monopolies. Between them the regime businessmen and the Brotherhood businessmen will form a mafia splitting Western economic aid and contracts between them. And when the Brotherhood is finally ready to make its move, Mahmoud Jibril will end up as sidelined as Egypt’s Mohamed El-Baradei.
The real message of this election is that the alliance between the Libyan establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood is still holding together. The NFA and the Brotherhood are both opposed to autonomy and are both determined to stop any regional independence bids. The elections and the coalition will give the new regime the appearance of legitimacy while its thugs go back to doing what Gaddafi’s thugs were doing in Benghazi.
The Libyan election was a farce which saw the NFA and the Muslim Brotherhood join together for a sham election whose true purpose is soliciting Western money while uniting to crush eastern separatists. It is not a step forward for democracy, but a return to tyranny.
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