14.10.2013 Author: Yuriy Zinin

Libya is going down the Somalia path

libya88-500x336-450x302The scandal in Libya connected to the capturing of Abu Anas al-Libi seems to be going a bit too far. The man is blamed by the White House for his alleged connection to the explosions in the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that took lives of 224 people. 

At first the Libyan government turned to the U.S. authorities seeking explanations for the fact that their citizen was kidnapped, but at the same time it preserved hope that the strategic connections between the two countries wouldn’t be compromised by this fact. 

But as the time moved on the Libyan position started to change. The National Forces Alliance (NFA) that is regarded as the most liberal force in the Libyan parliament censured the Delta Force power-play on the foreign soil as an action that violates the sovereignty of Libya and the UN Charter. Finally the General National Congress (GNC) that plays the role of interim parliament demanded Washington to give up the kidnapped immediately. 

The current standing of the two powers is represented by the media barrage coming from the both sides of the political face off. The United States are determined to “prosecute” the man they believe is a top Al-Qaeda figure responsible for the bomb attacks. In their turn Libyans believe that they should not put up with the facts that their citizens can be kidnapped from parking lots in the broad daylight. At the same time one can hardly argue with their arguments – the fact that a Libyan citizen is guilty can only be established in a Libyan court, that’s how it goes in the democratic countries. 

As the exchange of accusations raged on suddenly the voices of Islamists become louder than the others. The infamous “Muslim Brotherhood” stroke the Libyan government with harsh criticism for its “soft” position, demanding the assembly of an independent lawyers group that should investigate the case. Such a step can result in a large scale witch hunt that will transform slowly in a blood feud. 

A number of jihadist groups addressed the Libyan people with calls for violent revenge against the United States and that should be carried out through the attacks on the oil infrastructure objects. At the same time the “Libyan traitors” that help the U.S. “should” face the jihadist anger as well. The “Ansar al-Sharia” group has called for immediate actions by stating that “people should take all the possible steps to free Abu Anas al-Libi and the other Libyan prisoners from foreign prisons”. 

The rise of Islamists in Libya can be seen clearly now, once the colonel Gaddafi is gone, there’s no stopping them from reaching a prominent position on the Libyan political landscape. In the Gaddafi era all the Islamists especially the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) that was terrorizing the eastern parts of the country were suppressed. 

Abu Anas al-Libi was a member of LIFG but at some point in his life he flee Libya to escape the prosecution, but once the uprising against Gaddafi begun he returned home to fight the regime. At the time the Islamists played a key role in bringing the Gaddafi government down. 

Once the regular armed forces were done with, which would be an unimaginable course of events but for the U.S. and NATO support, the new elites did their best to demolish the existing security system completely. A mixture of elites and groups that took Libya over afterwards failed to establish order in the country where variegated militants groups, divided by the region and tribe criteria continue to do pretty much they’re up to. All this provided a fertile ground for Islamists to return from political exile. The “Muslim Brotherhood” was quick to create a “Justice and Development Party”. 

According to a number of sources a good portion of Islamists are occupying offices in the today’s Libyan institutions. In a number of militants group that constitute today the security system of Libya there’s quite a few Islamists ones. The above mentioned “Ansar al-Sharia” is one of these, since it was fighting the Gaddafi forces in the Sirte area. After the war this group demanded the new government to establish Sharia law all across Libya. This very group is deemed responsible for the assault on the American embassy in Benghazi in September of 2012, when the U.S. ambassador was murdered. 

The operation of Abu Anas al-Libi kidnapping resulted in a major shift of the Libyan political landscape, which showed the degree of instability of the post-Gaddafi Libya. There’s a chance that the bursts of uncontrolled bloodshed and violence will start any day. The Islamist militants that use the General National Congress as a screen for their feud can easily push Libya down the Somalia path. 

Yury Zinin, senior researcher at the Moscow State Institute and a contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.