Libya's legislature's vote for the Brother sheds an entire new light on the course of the country, contends Gamal Nkrumah
Tripoli proceeds from the politics of petroleum to ideological perceptions. The country appears trapped in a vicious cycle of terror that ironically hit Benghazi, the capital of Cyrenaica, the cradle of the uprising that sparked the revolution that toppled the regime of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The spike in violence in the country did not prevent Libya's newly empowered legislative body, the General National Congress (GNC) from electing Mohamed Al-Megaryef, founding member of the National Salvation Front, as its president.
These combined efforts should have two clear goals in mind. First, Libyans want a state that is functional and democratic and they appear to prefer a Western-style multi-pluralism to the autocratic rule of their former strongman Gaddafi.
Some voters in Libya increasingly deem Megaryef woebegone, even though he has just wrestled the mantle of leadership. There is a widespread feeling that Megaryef is a man of the people and that he will deliver.
Megaryef's election has done little to quell outrage among certain sections of the Libyan people, even though he seems to be a favourite with Libya's post-Gaddafi political establishment.
This is an odd problem. Even by the standards of the post-Gaddafi Libyan political dynamics, the gap between fact and fiction yawned unusually wide this August. Take the curious blast that shook Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, on Wednesday 1 August. The whiff of high level treachery funnelled rumours of the growing power of the Green Resistance, an underground army of old guard Gaddafi loyalists.
That morning a bomb struck the headquarters of military intelligence in Benghazi. Eyewitnesses claimed that there were no dead or injured. The Green Army claimed responsibility for the attack, for this surely was not the work of a suicide bomber. Some Benghazi residents insist that they saw a man stepping out of a silver car and hurl the bomb.
So what is the secret of the slick silver car? And again, eyewitnesses allude to a remote controlled bomb, implying that it was not the work of a jihadist fanatic. The blast was certainly either that of an insider, one of the members of the disgruntled militant Islamist groups, pro-Gaddafi snipers or tribal paramilitary gangs.
Much of Libya has become a tattered patchwork of combat zones and some Libyan towns and cities have been gutted by months of sporadic yet systematic shelling by the Green Resistance army as well as by tribal militiamen.
And as if the bombing of the Benghazi secret service headquarters was not enough, earlier in June this year, another remote controlled bomb had gone off in a vehicle parked near the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
The hand of tribal turncoats from within the new post-Gaddafi political establishment is clear. There were nastier tales of preparations for revenge by diehard Gaddafi loyalists.
Directed with seeming purpose, the targeting of Western diplomatic missions in Benghazi appears to be somewhat astounding. Yet this is precisely what Gaddafi warned against. The vehicle of the head of the United Nations' mission to Libya was attacked by rocket propelled grenades. Similarly a convoy of vehicles belonging to the British Consulate in Benghazi was attacked and had bombs hurled at it.
All the staff was accounted for, but Benghazi is nevertheless prone to assaults by militant Islamists, probably linked with Al-Qaeda, who insist on severing all ties with Western powers.
If there is any endeavour to end the conflict, it appears to be in vain. Camera crews struggle to find a picture of reassurance in post-Gaddafi Libya. But there is no escaping the fact that the country is in disarray. The 7 July landmark elections proved that a considerable number of Libyans crave a democratic Western-style nation. Yet, there are tribalists and Islamists who eschew such perceptions and yearn for the establishment of an Islamist Caliphate straddling the Mediterranean.
This is the time to buy time in Tripoli and Benghazi and the upper echelons are well aware of the predicament the political establishment in Libya faces.
Politicians love postponing problems, and Libyan politicians are no exception to the general rule. The Islamists controlled the National Transitional Council (NTC) and the tribal leaders and the secularists were sidelined. Al-Megaryef, in sharp contrast, is a Western-educated suave and sophisticated economist who holds a doctorate degree from a British university, and he does have clout among the secularists. He is widely respected because he is regarded as a victim of the atrocities of the Gaddafi regime.
According to Al-Megaryef's daughter, Asmaa, her father survived several assassination attempts -- in Rome in 1981, in Casablanca in 1984 and in Madrid in 1985 -- and was on the hit list of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Al-Megaryef defeated liberal independent Ali Zidane in a run-off by 113 votes to 85 in the 200-member GNC. The liberal Zidane was trounced and Al-Megaryef demonstrated how slickly the Islamists can repackage themselves.
However, a strain of intolerance runs through them. A presenter was promptly dismissed because she was not dressed appropriately -- she was wearing make-up and had her hair uncovered. "We believe in personal freedom and we shall strengthen individual freedom. But we are Muslims and we hold on to our social values and traditions. Everyone must understand this point," explained Mustafa Abdel-Jalil. He is known to be an Islamist with very strict views regarding women in particular.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party (JCP) appears to be sympathetic to Al-Megaryef, even though their champion was Abdel-Jalil.
The liberal National Forces Alliance of Mahmoud Jibril has taken the backseat for the time being. The real source of uncertainty is whether Al-Megaryef is capable of uniting all the various political forces of Libya and a new dispensation is at hand. If Libyans drag their feet, military muscle may be needed to enforce a more rational division of the spoils of post-Gaddafi Libya.