The end of the Gaddafi’s Tenure and Tunis, Observations on the “Jasmine Elections” - 1

October 26, 2011, Wednesday/ 10:26:00/ VEYSEL AYHAN

Prior to the Tunisian National Assembly Elections to be held on October 23, 2011, the first image that we have seen on the Tunisian streets is the pleasant arisen from the death of Gaddafi.

Tunis which will have its first democratic elections has celebrated one more time the overthrow of a dictator. The Libyan and Tunisian young people and pro-change groups poured into the streets and showed one more time their support to the ongoing change in the Arab world. Tunis where has started the Arab Spring targets to contribute in a different way to the democratic restructuring of the new period particularly in Egypt and Libya by holding their first democratic elections in the period of Gaddafi’s death. In this way, the Tunisians have become the priors of the Arab Spring and are going to continue to set examples to the other processes with their next steps.

The Influence of the Gaddafi’s Death on Libya and Arab World

It must be clearly stated that following the death of Gaddafi, the interim government in Libya has become the sole legitimate authority of the country. The victory celebrations held by the military units bound to the Interim Government in Sirte, the center of the Gaddafi’s Tribe, were like a clear indication of the ending of a period. Now, it must be accepted that a new power structure has risen in Libya and all the units supporting Gaddafi will have to admit the military and political defeat.

Libyans having launched the revolution process by military methods and struggle have set an example for the Arab World that the regimes can be overthrew through military methods, too as differently from Tunis. In other words, the Tunisians have become the priors of a democratic and peaceful regime shift and the Libyan have become the priors of a regime shift through a military struggle in this process of Arab Spring. We have to emphasize on the fact that both of the countries have received the support of the regional people, besides the international support. For example, the support to the Libyan opposition given by Tunis, the prior of the public revolution in the Arab geography, has brought about highly important results. The revolution and change movement having started on the North Africa are supposed to continue in Syria and Yemen as well after the one in Libya. The first country recognizing the Syrian opposition has been the Libyan Interim Government, which may be defined as the first signal of this development.

Following the death of Gaddafi, a strong perception has risen about the ending of the internal conflicts in Libya in a short time. It must be pointed out that there has not been a structure which is powerful enough to resist to the new owners of the power, except the Tuvarics on the South. Thus, it can be claimed that the conflicts will end in a short time. Now, it will be more important to determine what kind of a process will be implemented in Libya. Will the country be leaded to a new dictatorship or will the necessary initiatives be taken for the transition into the democratic system. Actually these questions will be answered by Libya itself in the near future.

Besides that, during the post-Gaddafi period, primarily the US, EU, Turkey and the regional states must sustain their support for Libya during its transition period as well so that it can acquire a stable structure. The new owners of power must not be allowed to govern the country with a perception based on exclusion and discrimination in order to prevent that the country is dragged into a civil war. Any initiatives aiming to exclude the social groups representing the former power from the political, economic and military system must be blocked.

Any initiatives which may be attempted by the forces having obtained the power to exclude the pro-Gaddafi groups living in the middle and South of the country, especially the Gaddafi’s Tribe, from the political system can be defined as the main threat for the stability. The states taking part in the NATO mission have great responsibility for preventing such initiatives. Otherwise, the transition of the state into democracy may turn into a target attempted to be accomplished only on paper.

The second main threat for the stability can be defined as potential conflicts which might be raised during the power sharing. Even now, there has been a concurrence between the Eastern and Western Tribes for the power sharing. We have to point out that an important part of the current political names were in power during the Gaddafi period, too. There have been lots of names who had functioned in the positions such as the Ministry of Justice and Embassy.

By the way, there has been inter-tribal concurrence, as well. For example, the Tarhuna Tribe has not consent to share the control of Tripoli with the eastern-oriented tribes and has called the warriors coming from the other regions for returning to their hometowns after the Gaddafi period. Therefore, the power sharing might be an important issue in the coming period.

On the other side, another important problem in the coming period will be the relation between the religion and the state. How the new regulations about the religion-state relation are to be put into the new Constitution will be discussed seriously in the post-Gaddafi period as it happened in Tunis. Certain groups who carried out a serious struggle against Gaddafi and possess Islamic sensitivity will have some demands to increase the visibility of the religion in the social areas in the new period.

Moreover, the remodeling of the political and administrative structure will be one of the serious discussions in the new period. A strong presidential system has been opposed because it has been alleged that this leads the country into the dictatorship. Besides that, it is stated that a strong par lamenter system brings about a single-party dictatorship, as well.

In conclusion, it has been observed that after Gaddafi, the Libyans has been paying attention currently to the elections in Tunis and then to the writing of the Constitution. Therefore, the Tunisian elections on October 23, 2011 may give the signals about the potential ways to be adopted by the revolutionary movements in the whole Arab World.

»» Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veysel AYHAN, ORSAM Middle Eastern Adviser, Abant İzzet Baysal Univ. Department of International Relations