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The latest chapter in Libya's struggle with the counter-revolution

The counter-revolution in Libya was born with the revolutionary desire to progress from violence and injustice to peace and the restoration of the people's rights. This happened in Egypt when the Supreme Military Council took hold of the reins after the overthrow of Mubarak, before letting go hesitantly after only a year; the army has, of course, now come back into power in a "new democratic" manner.

The recent presidential election in which Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Nasserite Hamdeen Sabahi ran was a competition between two military minds. In essence it was a survey asking the Egyptian people whether what Al-Sisi did on July 3 last year was a brutal military coup or if it was putting the January 25 Revolution back on the democratic track. I believe that the Egyptian people made it clear that it was a coup by their boycott of the election while the military and its media insisted otherwise.

In Tunisia, the counter-revolution tried and continues to try to thwart the democratic path. We should not be fooled by the fact that the army remained neutral in the struggle between the revolution and the counter-revolution. The matter is simply that the opposition failed to provoke the people and could not get them to take to the streets, despite the frenzy in Ben Ali's media outlets, supported by Gulf States that do not believe that change and revolution are Arab necessities.

If the counter-revolution, in the form of secular parties and Ben Ali's remnants, had been able to fabricate the will of the Tunisian masses, then the generals would have claimed to be defending the people; this is now an Arab tradition that may end up becoming a duty at the heart of any attempt to change.

In Yemen, some Gulf States took action immediately to break the will of the revolution and stop it in its tracks through initiatives that ended with the remnants of yesterday and those opposed to change becoming partners under the umbrella of the peaceful revolution, despite the potential to militarise the situation. The fabricated problems that were thrown into the midst of the revolution from outside caused it ultimately to lose its momentum; these include Al-Qaeda on one hand and the Houthis on the other, as well as the attempt to "federalise" the country due to the south-north conflict. There was no economic motive that contributed to the success of the political transition which the Yemeni leaders have no experience in.

Once again, some Gulf countries intervened and prevented Bahrain's revolution under the pretext of sectarianism, as if Bahrain's Shia are not entitled to participate in the political life controlled by one family since Bahrain was born. The protesters were portrayed as spies for Iran and, under such conditions, the attempt to change was crushed and the Gulf forces intervened to defend the dictator regime.

Libya is in no better shape than its close neighbour Egypt or even Yemen and Bahrain. Some Gulf States had a role in supporting the cartoon-like coups carried out by retired Major General Khalifa Haftar last February in Tripoli, or what Haftar called the dignity process, which was launched in Benghazi in mid-May. Gulf newspapers did not hide their joy at the most recent coup attempt and believed that it would eliminate the terrorist and radical groups in the country.

I have noticed recently the Libyan judiciary's involvement in supporting the coup, evident in the statement issued by the Chief of the Supreme Judicial Council in Libya, Ali Hafiza. He called for the formation of a national dialogue committee made up of the former Chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya, Mustafa Abdul Jalil; the head of the Constitutional Assembly, Ali Tarhouni, who rejected the invitation; the leader of the League of Libyan Scholars, Umar Mawloud Abdul Hamid, a body backed by the Sufi and Salafi trend in Libya, an opposition front opposed to the Fatwa Council, which supports the February Revolution; the head of the Reconciliation Commission, a body dominated by social work rather than politics; the chair of the Shura Council, Ghaith Fakhiri; and the head of the February Committee, Al-Koni Abboda.

It is noteworthy that the statement made by the Supreme Judicial Council calling for dialogue between the political parties fails indirectly to recognise the National Congress as a legitimate elected representative by excluding it from the dialogue committee. This is in line with the calls by the coup leaders, including Haftar's attempted military coup, as all parties agree on the ultimate goal, the overthrow of the National Congress. The congress was the outcome of the first real experience of democracy in Libya and the counter-revolutionaries also called for the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, the first elected civilian president of Egypt.

The council is using state institutions to promote a coup against legitimacy; at the end of its statement, it called on the "Ministry of Justice to provide all necessary facilities to enable the dialogue committee to carry out its duties." It is well-known that there is no dependent or administrative relationship between the Supreme Judicial Council and the Ministry of Justice; this suggests that a previous agreement was made between Ali Hafiza, Head of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Minister of Justice, Salah Al-Marghani, in order to complete the coup.

Also, it is important to note that the statement made by the council tried to erase all psychological barriers that separate the independence of the judiciary and its interference in politics. This is especially so since the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Kamal Bashir Dahan, rejected similar calls in the past, made by several movements against the legitimacy of the National Congress, to take over legislative power in Libya.

The rejection by the Constitutional Assembly of the Supreme Judicial Council's move was consistent with the constitutional declaration that separates the legislative, judicial and executive branches. It is also consistent with the laws of the Libyan judiciary that prohibit them and their bodies from interfering in political affairs or taking sides.

The counter-revolution in Libya is trying to use fragile Libyan resources and state institutions to work in its favour. Haftar, for example, used a state-owned military airport and aircraft to strike sites in Benghazi which he claimed to be hotbeds for radicals and terrorists.

However, I am surprised by the boldness of Ali Hafiza, Chief of the Supreme Judicial Council, in signing a statement such as this which has appeared in the media. A complaint was filed by the public prosecutor accusing him of committing crimes during the February Revolution, which may cause him to strip Hafiza of his immunity to criminal prosecution. He seems to have taken it as an opportunity to join the counter-revolution and use it as a life jacket if it succeeds.

The internal and external arms of the counter-revolution in Libya are trying to hinder the path to a peaceful transition of power and the support of democratic institutions in the country. Despite the announcement that parliamentary elections will be held later this month and that legislative power will be transferred from the National Congress to the House of Representatives next year, the counter-revolution refuses to recognise this and also announced the organisation of parliamentary elections overseen by a presidential council nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council; this is an ugly reproduction of Al-Sisi's coup.

I must also point out that the current conflict between Ahmed Meitik's elected government and Al-Thinni's government, which is merely an extension of the corrupt Zeidan government, is not a legal or constitutional conflict regarding the matter of legitimacy of Meitik. It is a conflict between a corrupt institution represented by parties, cities, militias and some businessmen, in order to preserve the corrupt contracts they received during the fugitive Ali Zeidan's period in office. This is especially true after the Central Bank of Libya refused to cash the contracts after orders were issued by the National Conference leadership to monitor the signatures of Al-Thinni's ministers.

For example, government sources have said that one of the leaders of the Zintan Brigades put pressure on Meitik to implement a supply contract with the Ministry of Defence worth 350 million Libyan dinars that he received from the fugitive Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, but Meitik refused.

I believe that this is the last chapter in the struggle between the counter-revolution (which is supported by Libyan politicians such as Mahmoud Jibril and Abdel Rahman Shalgam, as well as by some Gulf countries, Egypt and the United States) and the February Revolution represented by all Libyans dreaming of a change for the better.

Translated from Al Jazeera net 4 June, 2104


The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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