The United States among other countries officially recognized the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) as the legitimate governing body of Libya back in July. The U.S. and it’s allies is counting on the TNC to fill the current void in Libyan leadership since the country’s dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi of over 40 years was forced to relinquish his power by rebel forces and their allies over the weekend.
Many are asking, though, who exactly is this group that the United States and others are trusting to lead Libya towards a Middle Eastern democracy? Although the United States is optimistic about working with the TNC, past analysis about the TNC from the White House states, “We are not aware of any direct relationship between the TNC and al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) or any other terrorist organization.” Hardly reassuring to say the least.
According to the 32 page report (H/T ForeignPolicy.com) the White House sent to Congress in June to justify our nation’s involvement in Libya, the previously banned Libyan Muslim Brotherhood would be allowed to participate in Libyan society: (all emphasis below is mine)
The Analysis of Potential Ties to Extremist Groups:
We are not aware of any direct relationship between the TNC and al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) or any other terrorist organization. There are reports that former members of the LIFG, which had been initially formed as an anti-Qadhafi group, are present in Eastern Libyan and that some of them were fighting with opposition forces on the front lines against the regime. During the past two years, the Government of Libya had instituted a program to rehabilitate and release from prison members of the LIFG who had renounced terrorism, and some of the former LIFG members in Eastern Libya had participated in this program. The TNC has consistently and publicly rejected terrorism and extremist influences and we have not observed any TNC support or endorsement of the LIFG.
In addition, the TNC has publicly declared the secular nature of its organization. The TNC and other members of the opposition have actively worked to open up Eastern Libya to civil society groups for the first time in the 42 years since Qadhafi took power. As a result, non-regime groups that had been previously banned, including the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, have now organized and are participating in Libyan society. From public press reports, we understand that the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood has declared its support for moderate Islam, emphasized the important role of women in society-building, and formed a relief organization in Benghazi.
Are we looking at another Egypt in the making? The Obama administration officially recognized the brotherhood earlier this summer after the fall of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood does not recognize Israel and always sought to end the peace treaty Egypt had with the Israelis. Tensions between Israel and Egypt have continued to escalate since the new Egyptian government took charge.
But despite the Lockean tenor of much of the constitution, the inescapable clause lies right in Part 1, Article 1: “Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).”
Apparently, the administration does not look at the involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood within the TNC as a problem. In fact, the White House has usually viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as “largely secular.” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional hearing in February just that about the brotherhood.
The TNC has emphasized the importance of representing all regions and people in Libya and even includes members from regime-controlled areas such asTripoli and Sebha.
In addition to the larger council, the TNC has organized a 15 person executive bureau, led by interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, to handle specific portfolios including Foreign Affairs, Finance and Oil, Justice and HumanRights, Education, Health and Reconstruction and Infrastructure, among others. Currently, security conditions do not permit the Council to fully and adequately fulfill all of the TNC’s representational objectives, and political disagreements exist, as they would in any open and diverse democratic setting.
The TNC has consistently asserted that it is serving a temporary administrative role until the regime steps down and an interim government can be put in place to represent all of Libya. While it has not always been clear about how long this temporary role should continue, the TNC recognizes that elections will be needed in a reasonable time after the collapse of the Qadhafi regime, to provide legitimacy to a new Libyan government.
The TNC has dedicated itself to paving the way for an inclusive, democratic process to take the place of the regime once Qadhafi departs power. The TNC has also issued clear statements noting its intent to respect the Geneva Conventions, its respect for human rights, and repudiation of terrorism.
Foreignpolicy.com is reporting that representatives from nations helping the TNC will meet in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday to help the Libyan rebels form their new government in a post-Gaddfi era.