- May 29, 2006
- 10 minutes read
Libyan MB Skeptical of US Decision to Restore Ties With Libya
The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood refuses foreign intervention even under the umbrella of reform and human rights. It is time to deal with internal reform demands with the same interest and seriousness the authorities adopted in settling foreign issues . . . Libyan Muslim Brotherhood Chairman Seleman Abdel Kader in an interview with Al Manara newspaper
Al-Manara newspaper conducted an interview with the leader of Libyan Muslim brotherhood, engineer Seleman Abdel Kader, and put forth some questions about US decision to remove Libya from the list of designated state sponsors of terrorism and its decision to resume Libyan-US diplomatic relations, besides the expected knock-on effect on the internal affairs and future of reform in Libya. Following is the text of interview.
*First, how do u see the US administration decision to resume relations with Libya and remove it from the list of designated state sponsors of terrorism?
Actually, relations among countries should be based in principle on mutual cooperation and respect not on hostility and severance. Based on this, we see the US decision to resume full diplomatic ties with Libya as a return to the normal situation. We appreciate this constructive development, but we evaluate every event according to a national agenda that serves the Libyan people interests.
*Does this mean you associate the Libyan people interests with this decision?
No, but simply we evaluate the Libyan authorities ties in accordance with the interests they have for our people. The Libyan people paid huge sums of money as compensations for the victims of the American Pan Am flight, while many of Libyan citizens suffer from poverty, low living standards and lack of life essentials in health, education, etc. Although huge sums of money have been spent on nuclear program, the state did not receive any reward for giving up this program, not even acquired the peaceful nuclear technology. In this respect, we hope that Libyan people will not have to pay more of our badly needed resources, our sovereignty or of our just issues, especially the issue of children injected with AIDS, in return for this decision.
Moreover, this step will shed light on the internal reform issue as an urgent priority. We noticed the authorities’ enthusiasm in tackling the unsettled foreign issues, thus it is high time to tackle internal reform demands with the same interest and seriousness and even more seriously.
*With the resumption of Libyan-US relations and settlement of foreign affairs what are the internal pending issues you demand Libyan authorities to settle?
There are many issues, on top of them comes the economic issue. The high unemployment rate, especially among youth; the low income, which has been worsened since the mid-1980s. Moreover, corruption has prevailed within the governmental institutions. These phenomena, along with others, led to the deterioration of living standards for many people. There is also the issue of human rights. Despite the latest positive developments, namely the release of a great number of political prisoners, the cancellation of exceptional court – known as People’s Court – , there are still many unsettled issues, for example, the numerous cases where citizens are abducted. Moreover, the government admitted to the death of hundreds of prisoners in Abu Saleem prison, yet there is neither an official statement revealing the names of victims nor an investigation committee. Thus, we call for the formation of an independent judicial committee to investigate this matter in full transparency. Besides the above-mentioned issues, there is also the political issue. Despite the claims that the Libyan political regime is the “direct democracy” regime, the reality reveals that it is an autocracy represented in “Revolutionary Committees Movement”. We demand a clear-cut legislation limiting the absolute power of this movement.
*Some people fear that there may be a Libyan-US deal resulted in this sudden decision of resuming full relations. What do you think about that?
Fears may have real bases especially since the US Department of State announced on April 17th 2006, that it is not the due time to remove Libya from the list of designated state sponsors of terrorism. So what happened during this month that made the US administration changes its stance?
Moreover, there are indications that the current development in relations is from one side. We did not hear the US administration apologizing – in return for all Libyan steps, decisions and compensations – for 1986 air strike. Anyway, only those who participated in US-Libyan talks can answer this question. Undoubtedly, in such negotiations every side has its own demands. We refuse any demands that are at the expense of our rights and our national issues.
*The Washington post mentioned that the normalization of US-Libyan relations is a natural marriage of needs. Do you, Muslim Brotherhood, refuse this marriage especially when we take into consideration the Islamic trends’ sensitivity against any relation with US?
We are not subject to the principle of sensitivity when dealing with anyone; rather we are interested in putting matters in their proper place. I have mentioned earlier that we welcome any relations based on mutual respect and constructive cooperation, but refuse the relations that are based on bloodsucking or at the expense of our national issues.
*Some people see that the US administration took this step only to secure its interests especially after the critical situation in Iraq, and its stance against Iranian nuclear program, which reveals the lack of sincerity in the American dealing with Libya. What do you think about this?
Generally, the international relations depend on the internal stability of countries, which reflects a suitable atmosphere for cooperation and investment. Sincerity is not the case here, because international relations are shaped by interests. Undoubtedly, the US has its own interests here, but what is important for us is that these relations should be based on mutual respect and cooperation in order to secure the joint interests. They should not be at the expense of our sovereignty, or our established rights.
*How do you see the future of reform in Libya after this decision? Does this decision represent an American acknowledgment that Libya has achieved progress in the issue of human rights and reform, an issue used before as a justification for non-resumption of political relation?
We do not seek foreign reform and do not rely on it. We believe that only the Libyan people can judge if there is reform and the extent of such a reform, because it is the Libyan people who is suffering.
*Does this mean that you do not rely on America and the western world to exert pressure on Libyan regime?
Absolutely not! We rely on that the Libyan people are going to fully understand and demand their rights. Moreover, we hope that the Libyan authorities have a real will to realize reform and know that the only way to realize stability is through intimate connection with people, ending the political congestion and settling all pending issues. We believe in national reform and refuse any foreign intervention even under the umbrella of reform and human rights. Moreover, the reliance on any foreign side poses a threat to national security whish is a red line for us. We hope the Libyan authorities are going to understand this and accelerate a full internal relaxation to prevent any western endeavor to bargain on our national interests.
*In your opinion, what are the positive effects that the resumption of US-Libyan relations has on the citizen?
The lesson derived from this event is that when the political administration strives seriously to solve problems, it can achieve its objective. We expect the Libyan administration to deal with the internal affairs with the same enthusiasm and endeavor adopted in settling the foreign affairs. We need a real reform that opens up an opportunity for all citizens without any marginalization or exclusion of any party. This can be easily achieved through the activation of civil society institutions and direct dialogue with all parties. Our country has been under besiege during which citizens endured a lot at the expense of their health, freedom, and welfare, but the besiege is lift now and time is ripe for adopting an effective and true way to tackle poverty, deterioration in health and education services, and even the lack of infrastructure. Time is ripe for a true tackling of human rights issue. Time is ripe to feel the supremacy of law, which protects human dignity. Time is ripe to see Libya as a homeland for all Libyans without any marginalization or exclusion. Time is ripe to provide welfare for Libyan citizens, protect their dignity and maintain their rights.