Saturday, September 24, 2011

Libya Falls to Islamic Extremists?

From the London Telegraph:
Libya is in danger of falling into the hands of Islamic extremists if a stable government is not rapidly established, Nato’s secretary-general warned last night.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Islamic extremists would “try to exploit” any weaknesses created as the country tried to rebuild after four decades of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.

Mr Rasmussen was speaking amid growing evidence of splits in the rebel leadership in Tripoli. His words will cast a damper over the euphoria sweeping Tripoli in the wake of the revolution.

His warning came as the head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, told cheering crowds in Tripoli that Islamic shariah law would be the “main source” of legislation in the new Libya.

Mr Jalil, who only arrived in his new capital on Saturday, made his first public speech in Martyrs’ Square - once Col Gaddafi’s “Green Square” - last night.

“We are a Muslim people, for a moderate Islam, and we will stay on this road,” he said. His formulation suggested that Libya would follow neighbours such as Egypt in allowing room for secular freedoms.

But there are already signs that the rebel leadership is split over a variety of issues including the future role of the Islamist militias which played a significant part in the revolution.

Mahmoud Jibril, the interim Libyan prime minister, also arrived in Tripoli at the end of last week after complaints that he had been too busy travelling the world to lead his own revolution. On Sunday night he was forced to announce that his first government reshuffle would take place in seven to ten days.

Asked if Nato was worried that a delay in setting up a fully fledged new government increased the risk of extremists taking control, Mr Rasmussen said: “I don’t think it’s a major risk but of course we cannot exclude the possibility that extremists will try to exploit a situation and take advantage of a power vacuum. But based on our talks with the National Transitional Council I do believe they are sincere in their desire for democracy.”

The rebel leadership faces threats on many fronts, including from Col Gaddafi himself...

Libya 'cannot exclude' extremist exploitation, Nato chief says
Thomas Harding, Ruth Sherlock
12 Sep 2011

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