Activist Hassan Al Djahmi: Libya is at a crossroads
Interview by Monia Ghanmi for Magharebia in Tunis – 16/12/11
Hassan Al Djahmi was one of the founding activists of Libya's February 17th movement. His Facebook calls for a "Day of Rage" yielded thousands of responses and propelled the revolt that brought down the regime of Moamer Kadhafi.
Al Djahmi spoke to Magharebia about the challenges facing his country after the liberation, the role of the social media and youths in shaping Libya's future.
Magharebia: Can you describe the current phase Libya is going through?
Hassan Al Djahmi: The current phase is a critical labour in which we either move to a democracy and a civil state or make a new Kadhafi.
Many parties are vying for power and these parties are only seeking their personal interests and want to impose a fait accompli, sometimes in the name of modernity and civil liberties and sometimes in the name of religion, and they all have their own agendas and articulate the interests of regional and international actors.
The new government formation is a formation of personalities. Most of them lived outside Libya until now. It may have a measure of professional experience, but I think it lacks experience in the Libyan reality.
Magharebia: Interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim El Keib unveiled a new government almost a month ago. What are the thorniest issues his government will have to grapple with?
Al Djahmi: Under the current circumstances of the spread of weapons, the disintegration of the state agencies, internal and external parties struggling over dividing the Libyan pie and the insistence by some on the continuation of the chaos, the security challenge remains the most acute for the government.
In addition, of course, to economic challenges, as after four decades of the dire economic situation for Libyan citizens, ordinary citizens are waiting for the government to lift the suffering they are experiencing from their shoulders and raise the income level and provide a decent life. And this is difficult to achieve in light of the spread of financial and administrative corruption, the lack of transparency and exchange controls and the intersection of the particular interests of parties.
Magharebia: Social media tools played a key role in mobilising people. How can they be utilised now to support the transition?
Al Djahmi: Their role is to exchange views, to illustrate shortcomings and to overcome personal interests to push the country forward.
Magharebia: What about the role of Libyan youths and their participation in the new era?
Al Djahmi: The young people of Libya, who are the undisputed owners of the Libyan future, must staff the parties and civil society organisations and not leave the arena so that organisations with regional and international ambitions play in it.
Magharebia: The international community has expressed great concern about the proliferation of Libya arms. Do you think these fears are justified?
Al Djahmi: Of course, weapons are deployed everywhere. If the government does not quickly collect them, it will be like a ticking bomb. I think that the government is starting to send young people from the rebels on scholarships and for convalescence abroad so as to keep them away from the arms atmosphere and to facilitate their integration in society. It is also necessary to expedite formation of the national army, which must be under the command of military trainers, and to allocate them a large budget and give priority to the rebels joining this institution.
Magharebia: The National Transitional Council (NTC) called on rebels to surrender weapons but some refused to respond. Why?
Al Djahmi: Because the transitional council only made an invitation but did not take serious steps in order to collect the arms. It must adopt practical measures, such as establishing the national army, buying arms from the rebels, re-integration programmes and other things.
Magharebia: Some media outlets say that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has benefited from the Libyan conflict and obtained advanced weapons. How will this impact regional security?
Al Djahmi: Al-Qaeda exists and has an agenda, but it is weak and undesirable despite the support it receives from foreign parties, as they seek to impose their vision and to pass a certain agenda. Their objectives are only to sow confusion in Libya, but their quest will be fall on deaf ears, because the Libyan people are a conscious people and reject their ideas.
Magharebia: What can Libya do to confront these risks?
Al Djahmi: I think the only way to eradicate these extremist groups is to dismantle all militias, establish a strong army, re-integrate youth in society, spend on development projects to improve the social situation and eliminate unemployment and move away in any manner from security solutions when dealing with these groups.
Magharebia: How do you see the future of your country after the victory of the revolution?
Al Djahmi: Libya is at a crossroad: it is either headed toward democracy, development, reconstruction and stability that leaves the Libyan people freedom of choice, or entering into a black tunnel of conflict between the parties jostling for power in the name of secularism and religion and re-production of a new authoritarian regime.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.