Post-Gaddafi Libya stresses forgiveness, Muslim theologian runs stabilisation team

September 3, 2011

(Libyan stabilisation team head Aref Ali Nayed at the Libyan consulate in Dubai August 21, 2011/Mosab Omar)

When the officials guiding Libya’s post-Gaddafi transition list their most urgent tasks, they talk about supplying water, paying salaries or exporting oil, and then add something quite different — fostering reconciliation. The focus on forgiveness might have seemed out of place at meetings in Paris on Thursday and Friday where world leaders and Libya’s new administration discussed problems of democracy, investment and the unblocking of Libyan funds held abroad.

But the example of Iraq, which plunged into chaos and bloody strife after the United States-led invasion in 2003, convinced the Libyans planning the transition from dictatorship and war that the country’s needs were more than just material.

“You cannot build a country if you don’t have reconciliation and forgiveness,” said Aref Ali Nayed, head of the stabilization team of the National Transitional Council (NTC). “Reconciliation has been a consistent message from our president and prime minister on, down to our religious leaders and local councils,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The stabilization team, about 70 Libyans led by Nayed from Dubai, was so versed in the mistakes following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein that they made sure they didn’t repeat one of the more shocking — the looting of Baghdad’s main museum. “I’m happy to report that no museum was looted in Tripoli,” said Nayed, stressing the country’s cultural heritage had to be protected. “The banks were also safeguarded early on.”

In contrast to Iraq, where the U.S. decision to sack all members of Saddam’s military and Baath party helped drive men into an armed insurgency, Tripoli will keep almost all Gaddafi-era officials in their posts to ensure continuity. “Destruction and disbandment is the wrong road to take,” said Nayed. “It’s better to take a conservative approach, even if it’s not perfect, and build on it slowly.”

Read the full story here. See also Libyans focus on reconciliation and rebuilding

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