A Thawing of Libyan Politics?
The latest straight dope from Karim Mezran — A Thawing of Libyan Politics? speaks to the possibility of a national reconciliation and joint political agenda formulated outside of the GNC by the NFA and Brotherhood. If this could work it would be a very significant development, I have my doubts but would love to be proven wrong. Either way it is a masterfully written article by Karim.
Recent developments in Libya suggest an opening in the country’s otherwise deadlocked political process, increasing the likelihood of resolving several key issues holding back the country’s transition.
At the March 14 Brotherhood-NFA meeting, the two sides agreed to form several commissions, each dealing with an issue of national significance, in order to forge an agreement on each. The commissions will be open to all political forces, giving them the potential to serve as vehicles for compromise, an area in which the GNC has failed.
Since the July 2012 elections, when the NFA took a plurality of seats in the GNC (including thirty-nine of eighty party-list seats) the coalition has largely faltered, losing membership and influence to more ideologically coherent Islamist groups within the congress. Just one day after national dialogue talks, on March 15, the NFA showed signs of reversing this trend, holding a party convention now being heralded as a possible turning point in the group’s downward slide. Prime Minister Ali Zidan, supported by the NFA but not formally a member, delivered a powerful speech addressing a number of key issues and galvanizing his more liberal-minded cohorts.
Ending political gridlock in Libya has never been more pressing. On March 18 an armed convoy from Misrata surrounded Tripoli to communicate precisely this grievance. The Misratans demanded the removal of Zidan and the formation of a government focused on improving the welfare of the Libyan people.
Like the GNC’s political groups, Zidan too appears to be responding to recent lawlessness with political maneuvering of his own. Last week, at the conclusion of Zidan’s trip to the United States, Libyan authorities announced the arrested of a suspect in the Benghazi incident. The dubious timing of the arrest strongly suggests it may be a gambit by the Libyan government, under pressure from the United States, to buy more time.
Never before have Sawan and Jibril, who command the two largest political groupings in the GNC, worked together constructively. A more cohesive NFA that can also work with the Brotherhood and Islamists may thus enable the Congress to finally get back on track. And a functioning GNC capable of addressing the legitimate grievances of still-restless militias, as well as a strong Zidan-led government, may ultimately be the best hope for bringing about the security sector reform that is essential to improving the prospects for a meaningful democratic transition.