Libya, Tunisia and Even Afghanistan, Fresh Like 'Arab Spring'
Post-Gaddafi Libya is set to take a decidedly Islamist turn:
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its "basic source".
Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil's decision - made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process - will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi's rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.
And in its first free elections ever, Tunisia is set to elect...wait for it...Islamists.
Radio Mosaique FM posted results from polling stations around the country Monday, with many showing a commanding lead for the moderate Islamist party Ennahda. An Ennahda victory in a comparatively secular society like Tunisia could have wide implications for similar religious parties across North Africa.
Well, at least the free election of "moderate Islamists" will bring a kind of liberty to Tunisia, right?
Tunisia was known for decades for its repressive leadership but also for its progressive legislation on women and families, which secular-leaning Tunisians fear Ennahda will roll back if it takes a commanding number of seats in the new assembly.
Ennahda believes that Islam should be the reference point for the country’s system and laws but maintains it will respect women’s rights and is committed to democracy and working with other parties.
“During the campaign the Islamist party was quite disciplined in saying they will protect human rights, they will protect the rights of women and maintain equality, but in fact this is an open question,” said Ricky Goldstein who observed the elections for the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Tunisians hoping for freedom should get use to the phrase "campaign promises."
President Obama has been backing these revolutions from the start. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among the triumvirate that urged him to militarily involve the US in Libya. It's an objectively good day whenever a tyrant like Gaddafi dies, but we're probably going to regret the aftermath of all this. That's not entirely the administration's fault, of course; though Afghanistan isn't Arab, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has given us another reminder of the nature of the region in his recent comments regarding US-Pakistan tensions:
“God forbid, if a war breaks between Pakistan and America, we will side (with) Pakistan,” Karzai said, according to a transcript released yesterday by his office. “If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”
Keep in mind, US-Pakistan tensions boiled up after US forces entered Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden, who had been living in the shadow of Pakistan's equivalent of West Point for years. And, the US put Karzai in power after ousting the Taliban. We've spent American lives and treasure keeping the turncoat alive.
And we're pulling all US troops out of Iraq by year's end, without regard to the military situation... Among other things, that's likely to leave the US less able to move quickly in the region should another crisis arise.