14 June 2011

Libya: Anti-Kadhafi Rebels No Democrats, Report Claims

Photo: Buanews
President Jacob Zuma and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during a visit to discuss the coutry's political situation.

The anti-Kadhafi uprising in Libya is neither democratic nor spontaneous, according to a delegation which visited the country last month.

Their report, published by two French-based thinktanks, claims the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) wants to impose Islamic sharia law and that the uprising is motivated by regional resentment and vindictiveness.

While condemning Moamer Kadhafi's regime, the group says that "true democrats" are a minority in the TNC, which has been recognised by France and a number of other countries.

The democrats are working alongside monarchists, radical Islamists and Kadhafi regime defectors, like the council's chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, a former justice minister who twice confirmed the death sentences passed on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor for allegedly deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV.

And, the observers point out, only 13 of the 31 TNC members' names have been made public, with representatives of the west of the country, most of which is under Kadhafi's control, kept secret for "debatable" reasons.

The movement is "an armed uprising of the east of the country ... which tries to present itself as part of the Arab 'spring', with which it has nothing in common", their report says.

The report seems most concerned at the threat of establishing a base for Islamists in the region.

Article I of the CNT's National Charter states that sharia should be the basis of the country's laws and the report claims that the Libyan Islamic Combatant Group and Al-Qaeda both claim to have fought against Kadhafi's forces during the uprising.

The revolt has inspired three to four million migrant workers to flee the country, "at a time when their own countries are suffering a high level of unemployment", it says, adding that "all blacks in eastern Libya were considered to be mercenaries in the service of Kadhafi".

And it dubs the Western intervention in the country "adventurist", threatening to destabilise Africa and the Middle East by providing a base for radical Islamism in the region.

Nato air strikes have hit a hospital in Mizda, wounding about 40 civilians and Korean doctors, and other non-military targets in Misrata and Ziaouia, the report adds.

Accusing France, the UK and the US of going much further than the UN resolution authorising air strikes allowed, the delegation says that secret services were operating in the country before the motion was passed and continued to do so afterwards.

France, in particular, could lose business and influence in Libya if Kadhafi is not overthrown, thanks to an "exaggeration" of its role in supporting the rebels both in Paris and Beghazi, it claims.

* Despite its dubious past, the Kadhafi regime may have been trying to reform, according to the report, thanks largely to Kadhafi's son Saif al-Islam. It points out that a new constitution was being planned with the help of well-known intellectuals who were members of the Kadhafi Foundation, including US academics Francis Fukuyama, Joseph Nye and Benjamin Barber and the UK's Anthony Giddens.

** The group, organised by French thinktanks Ciret-AVT and CF2R, visited Tripoli and Tripolitania, under the control of Moamer Kadhafi's forces, and rebel-controlled Benghazi and Cyrenaica in April. It included former French intelligence chief Yves Bonnet, former Algerian minister Saida Ben Habyles and Franco-Bulgarian writer Roumania Ougartchinska.

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