Libya Tribune

By Aboul Fadl El-esnawy

The brotherhood in Libya seeks to convey the model of the Tunisian Renaissance, to separate the party from the religious movement and to re-delineate itself with the change that Ghannouchi uses in Tunisia.

As it fears from its isolation and its concern about the issue of coexistence between religious and social aspects.

The moves of the Libyan Brotherhood at home and abroad indicate the Brotherhood’s attempt to re-establish its political position inside Libya through its political arm, the Justice and Building Party.

Where the political activity of the group, which was highlighted by the success of Khaled al-Mashri, a member of the executive office of the party, to the presidency of the Supreme Council of the state by 58.7% of the total number of votes, in elections held in May 2018 -refer to that the group is seeking to achieve a new reality in the political equation, whose main tracks are likely to be completed before the end of 2018.

In parallel to this internal movement, the leaders of the Justice and Building Party (JEM) have organized shuttles in the north of Morocco and some regional and international countries, to convince them that they have become part of the solution and contribute to controlling the general situation in Libya.

The meetings of the leaders of the party,  with Rashid El-Ghannouchi, the leader of the Tunisian Renaissance Movement, the most recent of which was in December 2017, revealed that the Brotherhood in Libya seeks to apply the Tunisian model and follow the path of the Renaissance movement.

In order to implement El-Ghannouchi’s recommendations, the most important of which is to work on separating the religious call from the political one.

In order to convince the Libyan internal and external parties with transformational reforms in the brotherhood that ends with the separation of movement and party. In addition to the non-adherence  of the Brotherhood’s ideology in the political movement.

Before the study answered its central question: How does the Brotherhood organization in Libya seek political re-positioning, and what are the determinants and features of its strategy in order to achieve this?

It should be pointed out that the Brotherhood in Libya is marketing for its desire to make concessions in order to avoid its political isolation.

The group has declared its independence from the international organization of the Brotherhood and evaded it from the parent organization in Egypt.

In addition to the announcment of some of its cadres on the intellectual and political reviews submitted by the Brotherhood during the coming period, and is likely to precede the legislative elections in case it is held.

The problem of this study is to try to clarify the extent to which the internal and external conditions surrounding the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, as well as regional and international positions, are available to implement its strategy of political re-positioning?

Therefore, the main problem is to answer the question:

Can the Brotherhood achieve political re-positioning in light of the Libyan reality and the circumstances surrounding it, and what are the determinants of that strategy and the factors determining the return of the group to the political scene ?.

The paper is divided into three axes:

The first axis deals with the field situation of the Brotherhood in Libya since the revolution of February 11, 2012.

The second features the strategy adopted by the Brotherhood, represented in its political arm, the Justice and Building Party, and the moves of political re-positioning.

The third axis addresses specific factors to restore the community to the political scene in Libya and the potential opportunities and challenges of the brotherhood.

Firstly- The field situation of the brotherhood in Libya:

Based on the concept of political positioning, which means adapting political practice, which takes conflicting forms of previous policies, often coupled with political opportunism, with the aim of achieving special objectives.

It can be said that revealing the dimensions of the Brotherhood’s attempts in Libya to re-establish its political position, and play a role in the scene, requires shedding light on the status of the movement inside Libya after the revolution of February 11, 2014, and its current status, which can be addressed as follows:

The political situation before and after the revolution of February, 11:

The Brotherhood in Libya was part of the Libya Tomorrow project, adopted by Saif al-Gaddafi before the February 11, 2012 revolution, which ended with the release of Islamic prisoners from Libyan jails.

It is worth mentioning that Saif’s project, was attended by the fugitives from the Brotherhood, and the Libyan Fighting Group, led by the former General Controller Abdullah Ezzedin, who was sentenced to death.

The Brotherhood supported this project at that time and announced its willingness to participate in order to guarantee the exit from the prisons, and their return to their jobs and to be compensated.

After the revolution of February 11, there was a shift in the position of the brotherhood like other religious streams in the Arab region. It practiced the principle of piety established by the founder Hassan al-Banna, and returned to hold weapons to take advantage of the situation post-November 2014.

At the political level, the brotherhood participated in the first post-revolution legislative elections and won 17 seats in the Libyan National Congress. Which was the interim and elected legislative authority of the Libyan state in the transitional period.

In addition, the brotherhood adopted a draft of the political isolation in the transitional government. The brotherhood then prepared another version of the law of isolation, which included isolating all those who worked with the Qadhafi regime during the five years preceding the revolution.

The Brotherhood in Libya was a key player after the February 11 revolution, pushing its candidate Zidane to the premiership. In the transitional governments following the revolution, it represented three portfolios: the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Electricity and the Minister of Social Affairs.

The current situation of the brotherhood:

The current situation of the Brotherhood in Libya is re-positioning in return for concessions to avoid the political disintegration it has been experiencing lately.

The current political situation of the brotherhood (which is close to 367 members and cadres), is described by the political reality that is rising to get rid of its depression. Especially after the remarkable social activity of the group in the western region of Libya specifically through charity campaigns or medical convoys.

The political activity of the group is determined at the foreign level in the movements of its political arm, the Justice and Building Party. On the local level, the group represents 23 members of the Supreme State Council out of a total of 115 members.

In addition to the representation of the group with five deputies in the Libyan House of Representatives, they have been boycotting its sessions since mid 2017.

In addition to Abdul Salam Kajman, one of the founders of the Justice and Construction Party, who announced his resignation from the party in February 2018, Vice President of the Libyan Presidential Council.

As for the relationship of the Libyan Brotherhood with some other religious forces, it is noted that the group cut its alliances with all the religious parties.

Both the National Party, which won no seats in the 2012 legislative elections, and headed by the former leader of the Libyan group Abdulhakim Belhadj, Or the centrist Umma Party, the second most radical entity, which was joined by most members of the group under the leadership of Sami al-Saadi. As well as the Salafist Party or parties founded by dissidents such as the Islamic Party and the Reform and Development Party.

However, the harmony between the Muslim Brotherhood and those of the Islamic parties remains inevitable.

It can be said that this old and new reality of the Brotherhood in Libya is pushing them to the political re-position  in exchange for concessions to the main parties in Libya. Which may be the most important promotion of severing ties with other Islamic forces inside Libya. And also to promote its independence from the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood and the parent group in Egypt.

Secondly – The strategy and re-positioning moves:

The Brotherhood is keen to participate in the legislative elections that the United Nations is calling for, according to statements by Ghassan Salama, the UN envoy in Libya before the end of 2018 – make it move according to a strategy.

This strategy is based on re-managing the internal situation of the group, and convince the parties inside Libya and abroad, with their intellectual and organizational transformation,  can be explained as follows:

Managing the internal situation of the brotherhood (new strategy features):

The main aspect of the Brotherhood’s political repositioning strategy is to engineer the internal structure of the group. To send a picture inside and outside that it has been separated from violent groups in Libya and taken a different line from the Brotherhood in Egypt.

Thus, the group in Libya seeks to transfer the model of the Tunisian Renaissance, separating the party (justice and construction) from the religious movement, and re-delineating itself with the change used by Ghannouchi in Tunisia.

The plan to draw a dividing line between the group and the party, and to export the idea of removing the ideology of the group from the political practice. This idea was engineered in Tunisia in coordination with Rashid Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian Renaissance Movement.

The statements of the President of the Justice and Development Party, Mohamed Sawan, confirmed that the most important thing that was included in his meeting with Nizar Kawan, head of the Political Department for Justice and Construction, and Rashid Ghannouchi at the latter’s house, is the mechanisms of benefiting from the Tunisian experience in bringing about Libyan reconciliation between the Justice and Development Party and the Renaissance Party in Tunisia.

Al-Ghannouchi’s letter to Mohammed Sawan, which was discussed by some Libyan newspapers after the meeting mentioned earlier, that the Brotherhood in Libya needs to make concessions and disavow the groups classified terrorist and the dismantling of the military arms of the group and engage in the new arrangements.

It should be noted that the revisions that may come out in a written speech in the coming period, as confirmed by the writings of its supporters – since the middle of 2015, after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – will include the separation between the politics that is based on the interest and the religious call.

Ahmed Abdullah al-Souki, the general observer of the Libyan brothers, has repeatedly stated in the past two years to some media that the group’s revisions are in their final stages and that they will come to light.

It is possible to expect the end of these reviews before the next legislative elections, so that the group shows a new face to help them pass the project.

To be continued

***

Aboul Fadl El-esnawy– Expert’s of North Africa and Morocco’s affairs

_________________