Muslim Brotherhood or Haftar? Europe, choose which Libya to stay with

By Souad Sbai

After the unfortunate war against Gaddafi, Libya is now suffering from an unprecedented ethnic-political fragility. And in the midst of chaos, the Muslim Brotherhood always succeeds in penetrating into the West in a very effective way. So now the West must choose who to stay with: on the one hand, the extremists financed by Qatar, and on the other the stability of a strong man like Haftar, with whom it would be possible to develop an inter-Mediterranean cooperation.

It is no mystery that Libya has always been considered a delicious morsel by the Muslim Brotherhood and its jihadist proselytizer network. Nor is it a secret that the presence of General Khalifa Haftar, the strong man of Benghazi, is a formidable deterrent against the total and absolute control of the country by the Muslim Brotherhood. After the unfortunate war against Gaddafi, murdered in a way that to define as suspicious is more than a euphemism, Libya faces an unprecedented fragility and ethnic-political atomization; and as usual, in the midst of chaos, the Muslim Brotherhood manages to penetrate in a very effective way, such as in Tunisia and Egypt, just to keep the focus on North Africa and on the more recent times.

This week two news stories have turned the spotlight on Libya and on the dualism that has been characterizing it for some years now: the appointment as Head of the State Council of Khalid al-Mishri, a leading figure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, and the rumors, then denied, about Khalifa Haftar´s death after the illness that struck him.

Mishri has always been one of the main opponents of the General, therefore this coincidence has worried those who are afraid to see the anti-Islamist front heavily weakened, while the Islamist one gets strongly revitalized.

The fact that Haftar is alive, as reported by his spokesman, reactivates the hopes that Libya is not entirely in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and the expansionist ambitions of Qatar, a country that has been financing the activities and proselytism of the Brotherhood for almost a decade.

It is obvious that Libya is a strategic country not only for the West, of which it is the first neighbor in southern Mediterranean and the main “hub” for mass migrations. Libya is a strategic country also for the moderate North African powers, such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt. These North African countries do not see favorably the possible “extremist” change in Tripoli, which would endanger the regional balance in the southern Mediterranean shores, a balance achieved with great sacrifices.

The move of the Muslim Brotherhood that made possible the appointment of Al Mishri as Head of the State Council, is undoubtedly a change of pace in the “stable chaos” of Libya, whose destiny is still to be defined in terms of political and ideological leadership.

Haftar´s presence and strength is an obstacle to the ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood, and when a lot people rushed to declare him as dead based on a tweet, the Muslim Brotherhood sped up the pace, although in doing so they unveiled the rationale of its strategy.

This operation recalls the results of the operation against Gaddafi, when Mustafa Jalil was appointed as leader of the CNT not by his people but by the West, which needed him to present a “clean” face to the world.

The photograph in which Cameron and Sarkozy (yes, always him) appeared with Jalil, happy and victorious in Tripoli, should remind everyone that operations like this one are always conducive to failure or disaster, such as in the Libyan case.

Facing these circumstances and the strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood, the West must choose who to stay with: with the extremists financed by Qatar or with the stability of a strong man, with whom it would be possible to develop an intra-Mediterranean cooperation.

Libya is right opposite to Italy, and despite the decrease of the landings, the uncontrollable waves of immigrants arrived in recent years should remind us whom we should support.