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Libya’s New PM Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb: Nothing Like Gaddafi (and That’s the Point)

Posted on the 01 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost


Libya’s new PM Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb: Nothing like Gaddafi (and that’s the point)

Libya’s interim leadership has chosen Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb, an electronics engineer from Tripoli, as the country’s new prime minister. Al-Keeb was chosen on Monday by 51 members of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and will appoint a cabinet in the coming days. Jalal el-Gallal, an NTC spokesman, said al-Keeb received 26 votes, reported The Guardian. Al-Keeb takes over from Mahmoud Jibril, who resigned when Libya’s liberation was declared on 23 October.


The big relief for most Libyans is that technocrat Al-Keeb is about as far away from flamboyant dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as you can possibly get. But will he be able to deliver a peaceful transition? There’s certainly a lot to deal with in his bulging in-tray; in coming months Libya has to draft a constitution, elect a national assembly and has to decide what governance system it wants. With tensions still high on the Libyan street, and factionalism a big problem, some are not so sure al-Keeb will be able to deliver the goods.

“El-Keib presented his plan for the next eight months to the NTC, which includes working to restore order and stability, rebuilding cities destroyed by Qaddafi, rehabilitating the rebels and starting to collect their weapons”, Abdul Majid Saif Al-Nasr, an NTC member,told Al Jazeera.

Who is al-Keeb?  He earned a masters degree from the University of Southern California in 1976 and doctorate from North Carolina State University in 1984 before teaching in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, according to a biography posted by the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, where he is listed as chairman of the department of electrical engineering, reported Bloomberg Businessweek. Al-Keeb left behind his business career to join the NTC.

“We salute and remember the revolutionaries who we will never forget. We will not forget their families. I say to them that the NTC did not and will not forget them and also the coming government will do the same”, al-Keeb said, reported Al Jazeera.

‘New freedoms and songs of revolution bring same old fears.’ Reporting from Libya for The Guardian, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad said that Tripoli is awash with warring rebel military councils riding around town in pick-up trucks making arbitrary arrests of supposed Gaddafi loyalists. He painted a grim portrait of a city where Gaddafi’s brutal suppression of opponents is now being replicated by the revolutionaries who are hell-bent on extracting revenge.

Al Qaeda flag flies over Benghazi courthouse. Simon Greenhill of The Daily Mail picked up on worrying reports by Vice that the black flag of Al Qaeda was hoisted above the courthouse in Benghazi on the same day that Nato formally ended its campaign. Since Gaddafi’s death, there have been indications from the NTC that sharia will be the basic source of legislation. “There are reports that extremists have been seen on Benghazi’s streets at night, waving the Al Qaeda flag and shouting ‘Islamiya, Islamiya! No East, nor West’”, informed Greenhill, who noted that the National Transitional Council have denied that is responsible for the flag. “A sudden lurch toward extremism will alarm many in the West who supported the ousting of Colonel Gaddafi”, warned Greenhill, who added, “it also threatens to embarrass David Cameron who staked his personal reputation on the campaign to free Libya from the tyrant.”

Peace dividend: Forget the kickbacks. Writing at The Christian Science MonitorLibya experts Jason Pack and Sami Zaptia said now is the time for Libyans to “repay” those countries who helped in ousting Gaddafi “not through kickbacks” but by establishing a “stable, democratic, economically open future for Libya. That’s the real ‘peace dividend.’” The writers reminded that “common sense suggests that states do not spend hundreds of millions during a deep recession out of moral necessity” and insisted that the US, Britain, France, Italy and Qatar are now looking to “promote their national interests. Is it not fair for them to expect some sort of remuneration?” But Pack and Zaptia encouraged al-Keeb and the Libyan government to think less of rewarding Allies and more of building a prosperous Libya: “The world will benefit far more if Libya’s leadership decides to award these contracts on a meritocratic basis promoting innovation and efficiency, rather than by venally rewarding those countries that assisted it during the revolution … We believe the alliance powers should not ask the NTC to prostitute Libya’s vast treasure. Doing so would only cheapen the tremendous value of what the NATO alliance has done for Libya.”

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