When news came last Thursday that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had bee killed, Obama quickly touted the news as the beginning of a new time for Libyans and as vindication of his administration’s backing and participation in the NATO
military intervention war in Libya which began on March 19, 2011. The official name for the U.S. campaign is the optimistic Operation Odyssey Dawn.
In the name of the protection and securing of “human rights,” the legal basis for NATO’s “military intervention” is United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was adopted on 17 March 201 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. [Read the full text of the Resolution here.]
Now that the “military intervention” presumably has ended with Gaddafi’s death, Obama welcomed the declaration of liberation by Libya’s new leaders yesterday (Oct. 23) and urged the transition government to respect human rights and work toward democracy.
That same day, Libya’s transitional leader declared the newly liberated country to be an Islamic state where Sharia law will rule.
The Associated Press reports, Oct. 23, 2011, that in a keynote speech at the declaration of liberation ceremony in the eastern city of Benghazi, the birthplace of the 8-month uprising against Gaddafi, Libya’s transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil laid out a vision for the future with an Islamist tint.
Abdul-Jalil first declared that “This revolution was looked after by God to achieve victory.” Henceforth, Islamic Sharia law would be the “basic source” of legislation. Existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified.
Abdul-Jalil outlined several changes to align with Islamic law:
- New banks would be set up to follow the Islamic banking system, which bans charging interest as a practice deemed usury. For the time being, interest would be canceled from any personal loans already taken out and less than 10,000 Libyan dinars (about $7,500).
- An existing family law that limits the number of wives Libyan can take will be annulled because it contradicts the provision in the Muslim holy book, the Quran, that allows men up to four wives.
- Libyans are urged to hand back money or property taken during the civil war.
In a gesture that showed his own piety, Abdul-Jalil urged Libyans not to express their joy by firing guns in the air, but rather to chant “Allahu Akbar,” or God is Great. He then stepped aside from the podium and knelt to offer a brief prayer of thanks.
The transitional leadership has said it would declare a new interim government within a month of liberation and elections for a constitutional assembly within eight months, to be followed by votes for a parliament and president within a year.
For his part, Obama congratulated Libyans on their declaration of liberation: “After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise.”
Using Sharia as the main source of legislation is also stipulated in the constitution of neighboring Egypt.
So much for the much-heralded Arab Spring that began with mass protests nearly a year ago.