Tunisia and Libya divided over Morsi ousting

A boy holds a sign that reads: "Do not take power with you, Brotherhood" as protesters wave the Libyan flag during a demonstration against the Muslim Brotherhood for interfering in local politics, in Benghazi, Libya, 10 May 2013 Libyan protesters have rallied against the Muslim Brotherhood in recent months

People in northern Africa are conflicted over what to make of recent events and the turmoil gripping the Arab world's powerhouse - Egypt.

Over in Libya, for the past year-and-a half, I have watched a young population go from being relatively polite about the Muslim Brotherhood to being emphatically hostile in their rhetoric against them.

Libyans who did not vote for the Islamists have grown equally suspicious of their intentions in the long-term: They welcomed the toppling of President Mohammed Morsi.

I have heard many Libyans claim they need a "second revolution" in the past year.

But when Libyans talk like this, you cannot help but wonder who they will revolt against - they do not have a central figure to get rid of and no army to speak of.

They are currently largely unhappy with the legislative body - the General National Congress they elected more than a year ago - as well as more brigades and militias than they can count.

Ideological divide

Following the ousting of Mr Morsi, Ibrahim, a Libyan activist who stood in front of the courts of Benghazi protesting against Colonel Gaddafi's rule in 2011, says simply: "What happened in Egypt will happen in Libya."

Pro-government demonstrators rally against violence in Tripoli, May 2013 Post-revolution Libya has seen pro-government protests against violence

He does not see the army's intervention in neighbouring Egypt as a coup.

"They did it to protect the will of the people," he tells the BBC in a telephone interview from Benghazi.

Hanna Ghallal, a lawyer from the birthplace of Libya's revolution, sees both sides of the coin in Egypt.

As an activist she feels Egyptians stood against Mr Morsi "for dignity and real democracy, because that doesn't stop at the ballot box".

But as a woman of the law she does not think the army's intervention was a good idea because "now they are part of the conflict, and the army should be impartial".

Ibrahim and Hanna agree on one thing, though - they now see an ideologically divided Egypt on the brink of civil strife that could spread to their side of the border.

"If Egypt is de-stabilized, imagine what will happen in Libya," says Ms Ghallal. "We depend on them for our shared border security, because we have no army to do the job for starters."

Signs of civil war

Further west, Tunisians have already taken it a step further: they seem to have emulated Egypt and started their own Tamarod ("rebellion") campaign like the one created by young Egyptian activists who managed to rally millions of people to the streets after months of campaigning.

Taieb Moalla, a local Tunisian correspondent for a French newspaper and a long-time opponent of his country's deposed leader, is perplexed by recent events.

Tunisian protesters shout slogans during a demonstration after the death of opposition leader Chokri Belaid (pictured on flag), outside the Interior ministry in Tunis on 6 February 2013 As Tunisians know, revolutions are followed by a period of turmoil and confusion over what to do next

"The situation is not clear," he tells me from Tunis. "It used to be clear and easy but now it isn't."

Although Mr Moalla does not see the ousting of Mr Morsi as a coup in the traditional sense - because millions supported the army's move - he does not believe the army intervened for democracy, or to protect the people.

"There are signs of a civil war," he says. "It's possible because [the ousting] will make Morsi more popular amongst his supporters and could further radicalize the Muslim Brotherhood."

Although Tunisia's elections also ushered in a moderate Islamist party - Ennahda - which has caused some limited unease, Mr Moalla does not envision a repeat of what happened in Egypt in his own country.

"Unlike Egypt, our army has no tradition of being politically involved, we did not have any leaders with a military background," he says.

"Ennahda have also been more reconciliatory in power - there is a coalition government here. They [Ennahda] were smart because they understood that they cannot govern alone."

This is ultimately where Egypt's ousted president failed.

Revolutions are inextricably linked with a romantic notion of profound change.

In reality, they are followed by a period of turmoil and confusion over what to do next, how to do it and who the best person is for that task.

In these three countries, the revolutions have also come with the rise of political Islam. How all these elements are dealt with will determine how smooth the transition is.

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