In Benghazi, Libya’s NTC Announces Islamic ‘Liberation’

Splintered NTC May Face Another Civil War from Within

In a series of speech and celebrations that were careful to avoid direct mention of the dubious method of execution of their predecessor, Libya’s National Transitional Council ushered in their new regime with an announcement of the “liberation” of Libya from Moammar Gadhafi. To choruses of Allahu Akbar they sought to make it clear the liberation came with a decidedly Islamic flavor, including promises to center the new legal system around Sharia law.

Though Gadhafi loyalists remain in the country it no longer appears likely they will mount a comeback. Even with NTC chair Mustafa Abdul-Jalil vowing the new government’s legal system would center around Sharia, Libya is far from stable.

That’s because the NTC was an alliance of disparate interests brought together by a common enemy, and with him gone the already splintered faction looks prepared to rip itself apart, with regional rivalries and religious differences serving as the lines of demarcation.

Even the promise of Sharia is a vague one, as it could mean very different things to the different groups in the NTC. Abdul-Jalil’s promise to ban the charging of interest and to legalize polygamy were the only specifics given. Libya is increasingly not one nation, but many.

Far from the recent fighting all is calm in eastern Benghazi, while Misrata in the west appears to have gone down an extremely dark path, destroying a neighboring town of 10,000 people because their skin color was presumed to mean loyalty to the old regime, and where the major new industry appears to be commemorative photographs with Gadhafi’s increasingly desecrated corpse.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.