ISSN 2330-717X

Libya’s Liberal Victory Stuns Maghreb


By Houda Trabelsi

After the success of liberal forces in Libya’s congressional election, many Maghreb analysts expect a shakeup in the regional balance of power.

“The results of the elections in Libya will surely have significant implications in the region as a whole and will re-shape relations between states and alliances in the region,” Bassel Torjemane, a political analyst in Maghreb affairs, told Magharebia.


“The results were a surprise to all observers, who expected a great rise for the Islamists as a result of political support from their previous successes in Tunisia and Egypt,” he said, “or the clear and declared support, politically and financially, from the Arab parties trying to create a role and influence in the Arab reality by way of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance won 39 of the 80 seats open to parties in the General National Congress, while the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party took home 17 seats. The other 120 congressional seats are reserved for independent candidates.

The Islamists now must accept the results of the ballot box, Torjemane continued. He explained it was a dangerous situation, “especially since these forces have armed military groups and continued the same course of action on the Libyan scene after the fall of the Kadhafi regime, creating serious popular fears of their transformation into a new oppressive bloody regime in the name of Islam.”

It was this “fear of a bloodier dictatorship in the name of religion”, the analyst said, that “made voters in Libya shift toward the new political forces far-removed from the Islamists, creating a major shift in the entire region, the effects of which will extend to several areas in the Arab world and will be reflected in the changing reality”.

“The only side who understood and supported the Brotherhood in Libya are their allies the Ennahda Movement in Tunisia, who sacrificed much to support them and turned over Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi to them, despite the reactions and problems this act generated within the three governing parties and the position of the opposition,” Torjemane said.

Professor Monsef Ouiannes, a Tunisian academic and researcher of Libyan affairs, said that the election alone was not enough to create stability, adding it was “necessary for this election to lead to a state of political accord and to help especially with integration of the militias, with their 70,000 members, within state security and military structures and to lead to collection of weapons of all kinds”.

“It likewise must lead at the external level to control by the new authority over the flow of arms to Tunisia, Egypt, Chad, Mali and Algeria,” Ouiannes added. “We must not forget the tragedy taking place in Mali and al-Qaeda’s control over more than 60% of Malian territory in the Azawad region, caused by the flow of Libyan arms and their entering Malian territory easily.”

He continued, “For they are what overthrew the president of Mali and increased the power of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb… and they are what supported and strengthened the separatist Azawad movement in northern Mali.”

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The Magharebia web site is sponsored by the United States Africa Command, the military command responsible for supporting and enhancing US efforts to promote stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

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