4 November 2011, 11:44

Libya will become an Islamic state?

Libya will become an Islamic state?
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Interview with Alexei Malashenko, senior research fellow with Moscow Carnegie Center

I think it is too early to answer this question because I cannot imagine the new administration, the new power in Libya that will be united by a certain idea – political idea, ideological idea and so on, because there are a lot of differences inside the Transitional Government. I do believe and everybody began to understand that the main role in this new governmental coalition will belong to Islamic movement. It is not dangerous but it will create some problems because, look, several days ago or maybe a week ago or two weeks ago they declared that Libya will become an Islamic state. What does it mean, what kind of law will be used? They mentioned Shariah. How it will impact on the situation in Egypt or in Tunisia? I think that in Europe and in the United States and Germany they can’t understand that helping new regimes, would it be in Libya or in Tunisia, they create the so called Islamic zone, I don’t want to use the notion of Islamist’s zone. But anyway those who came to power, for example, in Tunisia, and who I do believe will come to power in Libya and Egypt, they will use Islamic traditions. I don’t understand what kind of relations could be established between Europeans and Americans who dreamt and talked so much about democracy and human rights. I think that a new situation is being created now and what kind of relations could emerge between West and Islamic rulers, I don’t know but anyway I cannot say that it will create some obstacles.

Do I get it right that Mr. Ghannouchi the Prime Minister of Tunisia actually came back from London? Didn’t he bring in some kind of civilized Islamist ideology like some experts are saying?

I don’t know and nobody knows because it is very difficult to understand what kind of Islam - new, modern or democratic they brought with them. He was expelled from Tunisia a lot of years ago as radical, of course he repeated several times that he has changed, now he will carry out a democratic course but he is 73 years old and I don’t know what about the new generation of Islamists. The recent experience shows us that Islamic ideology is becoming more and more radical.

Isn’t there an irony that NATO leading the operation actually brought to power some presumably radical forces in Libya this time?

Well, it is a joke of course but if I were Sarkozy I would prefer to deal with Gaddafi than with somebody else from Islamic movement.

Do you think that similar processes are now developing around Syria?

It is quite possible because nobody can predict who will come instead of Bashar al-Assad. They say a lot about his dictatorship and so on but I cannot imagine that the president of Syria will be replaced by somebody with democratic spirits. I think that it is quite possible that if civil war begins in Syria it will lead to the top of power somebody from Islamic branch.

As I was talking to the experts from the region I was told that the al-Nahda in Tunisia, some leaders in the NTC in Libya, many politicians in Egypt do belong to the movement of Muslim Brotherhood. And it has been strengthening its positions in Jordan recently. Muslim Brotherhood was banned sometime ago but is no longer banned in Syria. Is it a common movement breaking through the region?

I can compare Muslim Brotherhoods which were created in 2008, it is like an ocean, that is the general idea. There were four general leaders but they have special groups in each country in Jordan, in Egypt, in Syria, everywhere. It doesn’t mean that this organization is very centralized but there is a mutual understanding and there is certain cooperation and it is very important if, for instance, the Muslim Brotherhood will come to power or will participate in coalition in Egypt they will be supported in Jordan, in Syria and so on.

So, it does look like a common network that is spread all over.

It is solidarity and in the case of crisis or revolution Islamic solidarity can play an important role.

Do I get it right that they have little differences between themselves?

Yes, of course but look what we have, as I told you before, the Muslim Brotherhood at the same time is Islamic movement but with very strong national branches.

Thank you very much Mr. Malashenko.

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