A Gaddafist and the Muslim Brotherhood carry off a sham election.
The official story for the Libyan election has already been written. Even before the count is fully complete, newspaper headlines from London to Sydney to New York are hailing the triumph of a liberal party over the Islamists. Few of them notice or care that these election results seem to neatly reflect the agreement made between the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Forces Alliance before the election even took place.
While the media does its best to spin the election as a setback for the Muslim Brotherhood, it is nothing of the kind. Libya is the second country that Obama has delivered into the hands of the Brotherhood with Syria set to be the third. The Libyan election was a public show of support for a coalition that predated the election. A coalition in which the Muslim Brotherhood is set to play the 800-pound gorilla.
No media outlets noted that the Libyan military had been put on full alert through the election or that a helicopter belonging to the electoral commission came under anti-aircraft fire in the civil war burning behind the scenes of the phony transition. There are few mentions of the independence protests and the shooting of independence protesters by state security forces, and even fewer mentions of the ballots burned, multiple attacks on polling places and firefights between armed gunmen.
The media has its hand-fed story and will be sticking to it. Unfortunately there are some problems with their story.
For one thing the National Forces Alliance is neither liberal nor secular. Rather, it describes itself as moderate Islamist. And it isn’t a political party, but a bloc of around 60 parties and hundreds of civil and national organizations, ranging from tribal groups to soccer clubs. The goal was to create as broad a coalition as possible, and we won’t find out exactly who is in the alliance until much later. It is a safe bet that a group that broad includes terrorists and people too ugly for even Obama to shake hands with.
Describing a coalition of that size and scope as liberal is journalistic malpractice. It also isn’t remotely true.
The first of the founding principles of the draft charter of the National Forces Alliance is that “Islam is the religion of society and authority and Islamic Sharia is the major source of legislation.” The thirty-first principle calls for supporting the Palestinian cause “by all means” and rejects any dealings with the “Zionist entity.” The phrase “by all means” implicitly continues Libya’s policy of supporting terrorism.
The draft charter makes no mention of the bloc being “pro-Western,” as media reports describe it. It does however emphasize that Libya is part of the Arab and Muslim world. There appears to be no recognition given to Africans or non-Muslims in the document, who have been the victims of some of the worst of the violence. The charter of the so-called “liberal parties” is a pure document of Islamic and Arab supremacism.
Despite some early tensions between Mahmoud Jibril, a former Gaddafi crony, and the Muslim Brotherhood, operating in Libya as the Justice and Construction Party, the NFA and the Brotherhood are on the same page. Tellingly, the Brotherhood endorsed the NFA’s claims that it is winning, which along with the early arrangements, suggests that the NFA and the Brotherhood arranged the outcome of the Libyan election before it even took place.
The Brotherhood needs Jibril out front to reassure foreign investors. In Egypt, the Brotherhood had front men like Khairat El-Shater, who could sell the Brotherhood as a friendly capitalist venture, but in Libya, Abdul Hakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, with ties to Al-Qaeda, heading up the Al-Watan Party is a much less reassuring figure even for the most useful of useful idiots. Suleiman Abdelkader of the Justice and Construction Party is hardly any more reassuring, even to those journalists who see moderate Islamists under every Jihad.
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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