Western-based corporate media outlets have proclaimed Mahmoud Elwarfally Jibril the Western-backed National Forces Alliance winner of the first post-Jamahiriya election. (Jamahiriya was part of the name of the Libyan country and government from 1969 to 2011; the word signified that power was invested in the masses.)
It’s expected that Jibril, who was educated at the University of Pittsburgh, will continue the current policies of the National Transitional Council, which the Pentagon and NATO installed in 2011.
Jibril, who was a minister in the Col. Moammar Gadhafi government, defected early during the U.S.-backed counterrevolution last year. He served as a public face of the NTC, which the Obama administration used to justify the forced removal of Gadhafi’s internationally recognized government. Jibril had been forced out as the interim prime minister of the NTC earlier this year in a factional dispute.
The NTC regime’s only political program is a firm alliance with the imperialist states and the suppression of the loyalist forces still supporting the Jamahiriya government of the martyred Moammar Gadhafi.
The elections held on July 7 represent a continuation of the same process of regime-change aimed at bringing Libya fully into the fold of Western domination. Hailed as a moderate, Jibril advances no political ideas independent of Washington and London.
Despite the claims that the elections represented a major development in the history of this North African state, the actual vote turnout was low. Even in Tripoli, the capital, many stayed away as a result of threats of violence, lack of information on the candidates, and rejection of the process which seemed alien to many people.
The NTC government said that the participation rate was 60 percent. Even if the rebel regime’s figures were taken at face value, it would still indicate that 40 percent of the people rejected the polls, which brings into question the legitimacy of the outcome. Libya had not had a political party system since 1952 under the monarchy, when election violence resulted in the banning of parties.
Under the Jamahiriya, the system was based on direct democracy through people’s committees. Reflecting the problems associated with the newly imposed system under the NTC, most candidates were designated as “independent.” Nevertheless, Jibril’s pro-U.S. party was anointed the victor.
What the corporate media omitted to mention is that the Jamahiriya’s supporters were excluded from participating in the elections. Former officials who had remained loyal to the Gadhafi government were banned from running. This skewed the outcome in favor of the imperialist-backed parties and candidates.
Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, was denied the right to participate in the elections. He is currently being held by the Zintan militia which operates outside the authority of the NTC rebel regime based in Tripoli.
Thousands of supporters of the Gadhafi government remain imprisoned and exiled. The former Prime Minister Baghdadi al- Mahmoudi, recently extradited from Tunisia, is being held by the NTC rebels in Tripoli.
Even members of the International Criminal Court who visited Seif al-Islam several weeks ago were arrested and held for over a month until the imperialist states applied pressure for their release. Although the ICC assisted, along with the U.N. Security Council, in providing a pseudo-legal rationale for the war against Libya, its personnel were put on notice to not interfere in the broader imperialist designs for this oil-rich nation of 7 million people.
Elections reinforce regional divisions
The events around the elections illustrated the political chaos that has defined Libya since the overthrow of the previous government. In the eastern region, people attacked election offices, trashed ballot boxes and burned voting materials.
Several electoral commission officials were killed or injured in attacks.
The eastern region of the country was given a lower, disproportionate number of representatives than the western region, who will be seated in the so-called “National General Congress.” Some elements in the east have been calling for autonomy from the western region, where Tripoli is located.
In the south of the country, factional fighting over the last few months has created a serious security situation. In Kufra, fighting prevented the delivery of ballot boxes in many areas.
The south was given the least amount of representation in the new parliament. These developments will only exacerbate the existing divisions in the country.
Overall it was reported that more than 100 voting stations were unable to stage elections on July 7.
Lessons for Syria & Iran
Developments in Libya over the last 17 months point to the imperialist designs for Africa and the Middle East. The capitalist ruling classes in the West aim to topple independent governments, privatize national wealth and impose puppet leaders who will follow the dictates of the U.S. and NATO countries.
In Syria the imperialist states and their allies deny the legitimacy of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, leaving open the potential of direct military intervention.
These efforts can open a path toward the same program for Iran, which has been under tremendous pressure from the U.S. and Israel through sanctions, corporate media vilifications, targeted assassinations of scientists, and military intimidation tactics in the Persian/Arabian Gulf.
Consequently, the anti-war movement in the U.S. and Europe must stand firm in opposition to imperialist interventions in Syria and Iran.