Islamists in Libya now targeting Westerners
Islamists in Libya now targeting Westerners
Murad Makhmudov, Joachim de Villiers and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
In the last few weeks increasing uneasiness in Libya is gripping elites who worked closely with America, France, and the United Kingdom, in toppling Gaddafi. This uneasiness is based on attacks against Westerners in Libya. The attacks have been limited in scope and don’t have the hallmarks of major sophistication at this stage. Despite this, these warning signs are triggering alarm bells within Libya and in nations which supported the uprising against Gaddafi.
Libya is still blighted by the reality of vast numbers of different militias whereby some have political aims, while others are based on special interests, regionalism, monetary factors, and so forth. In truth, you don’t really have a centralized state which is functioning throughout the country but clearly the situation doesn’t resemble Iraq after the demise of Saddam Hussein. This isn’t surprising because the various different Islamist movements have different thought patterns and links.
Unlike in Iraq part of the opposition in the Libyan uprising came from Islamist networks which had fought against America and its allies in Iraq. Therefore, you clearly have a pragmatic angle within the patchwork of different movements. This is a “safety cushion” for leading Western nations which supported the uprising because radical Sunni Islamic networks and Western forces worked together in Libya.
Also, unlike in Iraq you don’t have a sectarian angle and the same applies to nationalism. After all, the Kurds currently control northern Iraq despite various different ethnic groups residing within the Kurdish heartland. More important, the sectarian angle doesn’t exist in Libya and this in itself reduces the flashpoint factor based on different sects within Islam.
In saying this, radical Sunni Islamists may turn against moderate Sunni Islam in Libya just like what happened in Iraq. However, even if this happens it doesn’t compare to the sectarian angle in Iraq. Another important feature is that the American government is clearly open to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria. Therefore, regional outside meddling is less potent than the geopolitical and religious angle which applies to Iraq.
The real “vacuum” which will enable Islamists to grow in power which are anti-Western and anti-moderate Sunni Islam, is the failed state scenario. Following on from the failed state factor will be poverty, indoctrination, bitterness, and other negative forces which will play into the hands of radical Islamists who want to turn Libya into a fundamentalist Islamic state.
Tara Bahrampour stated in The Washington Post that “The attacks included a bombing last week outside the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi and a rocket-propelled grenade attack there on a convoy carrying the British ambassador, which injured two bodyguards.”
“Explosions have also targeted offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross and a U.N. vehicle, as well as British Embassy cars visiting the southern city of Sabha last week.”
Further down in the article it is stated that “Libyan authorities are investigating the attacks, said Othman Bensasi, director of administration for the Transitional National Council, which has run Libya for the past year. He said there was no evidence that foreigners were involved.”
“We think it is fundamentalist Islamic groups,” he said. “They don’t want stability. They don’t want democracy.”
The ousting of Gaddafi led to many massacres against Gaddafi loyalists and black Africans. Even today you have untold numbers of people being held in deplorable conditions and this “taints” the opposition movement and Western nations which supported the uprising. However, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of what happened in Libya it is now essential to rebuild the infrastructure and to increase the power of the central state.
It is clear that the various Islamic groups in Libya are extremely divided because the majority favor positive ties with Western nations and support the political process. However, a militant fringe remains and given the prowess of radical Sunni Islamic movements to enter “failed states” and to exploit political vacuums then the situation remains dangerous. Therefore, it is essential that measures are taken which favor the political system and the rule of law.
Yet the history of Libya, vastness of this nation, the reality of various different militias, powerful regionalism, and other factors, means that a political vacuum currently exists. If Libya is to prosper from the brutal war which took place, then central forces and institutions need to grow quickly. Also, it is pivotal that educational institutions are supported and that economic investment is put into Libya which reduces poverty.
Libya deserves peace after so many individuals on both sides were killed and this nation also needs an independent judicial system which prevents the abuse of power. However, currently Libya is still in transition and the future remains in the balance.