Extremist threat spreads in North Africa – Russian envoy

Extremist forces are gaining ground in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, according to the Russian president’s special envoy on relations with African states, Mikhail Margelov, who made the statement at the Yaroslavl Global Policy Forum.

­This, he says, creates a threat for the entire region.

“In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood has registered the Freedom and Justice Party, which has in fact become the only political force in the country and which relies on the poor. If this party comes to power, Egypt will at best slide into stagnation and see the end of the authoritarian modernization which Hosni Mubarak led with an iron hand,” Margelov said.

While in Tunisia, a ban on the Islamist movement An-Nahdah has been cancelled, and it now stands a good chance of being elected. Mikhail Margelov added that the Muslim Brotherhood has also been active in Syria and that its representatives recently entered the National Salvation Council.

“If the West recognizes this council, Syria will see a Libya-like scenario,” the politician said.

Next week Margelov is scheduled to meet with representatives of the Syrian government and opposition members. This meeting he believes will allow first conclusions to be made about the prospects for Russian mediation in settling the conflict in Syria.

“We understand perfectly well that the situation in Syria is far from being constructive. We cannot talk about success until bloodshed stops. We are in dialogue with both the government and the opposition,” the presidential envoy pointed out.

As for Libya, he said it is high time to form a new government based on a wide coalition, including former Gaddafi supporters, liberals, emigrants and members of the royal dynasty. He specifically noted that mediating the settlement, the West should take into account mistakes made in Iraq and Afghanistan:

“You can’t destroy all government institutions in Libya and impose a European-style democracy, for which the country is not ready.”

Talking about the North African region in general, he noted that today the goals of revolutionary forces “may be a far cry from the democratic slogans of the Arab Spring.”