28.11.2013 Author: Vladimir Platov

Libyan history lessons

Libya-2Two years have passed since the United States and NATO carried out a force operation aimed at the change of regime in Libya. The war, which lasted for about eight months, had been proclaimed by Washington and its main allies in NATO – Britain and France – as the humanitarian intervention for the sake of the protection of this country’s civilians.

It is hardly possible even to eventually forget the broadcasts by global TV channels showing how excited and delighted United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was after the Lybian rebels – trained and armed by the White House for “just retribution” – had done away with Muammar Gaddafi in a bloody attack. Or US President Barak Obama’s statement on the birth of a “new democratic Libya” that he made in the White House garden.

What’s also quite telling is the support for NATO’s armed intervention in the internal affairs of Libya demonstrated by the Western pseudosocialist parties such as the UK’s Socialist Workers Party, the American International Socialist Organization or by the French socialists as their actions had surely been paid for by the initiators of this war. And today, the same parties have been actively participating in the information actions of the same hawks aimed at the incitement of new hotbeds of conflict around Syria and Iran, and they are clearly oblivious to such humanitarian designation as fight against wars and other tragedies threatening mankind. 

By unleashing the war in Libya, Washington and its allies were pursuing their primary goal – to replace the economic and political influence of Russia and China with their own hegemony, to take Libya’s energy resources under control and to stop the victorious march of the Arab revolutions against the pro-Western regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries of the region.

But what are the price and the results of this “accomplishment” planned and carried out within a short period of time by the countries of “democracy”?

According to incomplete estimates, approximately 50,000 Libyan civilians have been killed and as many wounded. Thousands of Libyans and migrant workers from the sub-Saharan region of Africa are kept in the prisons controlled by various militant groups, they are being subjected to torture and executed. The unemployment rate in the country is more than 30%, the country’s economy is in ruins, Libya’s statehood is being truly destroyed and going back to its fragmentation of colonial times. Local authorities are unable to control the situation in the country, where the rule of banditry and arms trafficking prevail. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been recently kidnapped by the Islamic militia. On 15 November, the militants who had fought against M. Gaddafi with the support from the Western coalition captured a military base, looted the weapons arsenals, in the Libyan capital they directed lethal fire at a peaceful demonstration, in which women and children were participating, and as a result 43 of them were killed and more than 500 wounded.

The government, which is not really supported by the national army, is incapable of providing security for the country’s citizens and borders. The vast Libyan desert has become a haven for Al-Qaeda fleeing from the persecutions by the French forces in Mali.

The generous funding provided for the Libyan militants by the Gulf monarchies has flooded the country with weapons and turned it into a shelter for regional terrorist groups. There are constant clashes between the competing ethnic and tribal militant groups fighting for land and access to the natural riches. Across the southern border, the violence spread into Niger, Chad, Sudan and across other countries of the region. In December 2012, Libya even had to close the border with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan owing to the deterioration of the situation in terms of security and declared this area a military zone.

Oil production dropped dramatically from 1.6 million barrels per day to 150,000, with only 80,000 barrels being exported each day. More than 6.43 billion dollars of national income was lost because of the violence, strikes and blocking of the oil ports by militants. This situation threatens the European energy security since Libya is the largest supplier of oil and gas to Europe.

The eastern city of Benghazi, which is the centre of the oil industry, has been a no-go area for the Americans, the British and the French since the killing of American ambassador Chris Stevens in September 2012. The city has set up an autonomous regional government and announced the establishment of its own oil company, Libya Oil and Gas Corp, bypassing Tripoli.

After the bloody overthrow of the Gaddafi government, the National Transitional Council still has not been able to obtain consent to assign members of the Constituent Assembly, which is meant to develop the text of the country’s new constitution. This hinders the creation of a new legislative framework adequate to the revolutionary developments that have occurred – but without it, it is impossible to develop political, economic and trade relations with other states, as well as to solve the problem of the sovereign debt, which has been increasingly growing in the recent period of the national legislative framework vacuum.

This situation has even prompted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to come forward with warnings regarding a possible “intervention of external armed forces” in order to protect the civilian population, pursuant to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, because “the international community cannot tolerate a state in the middle of the Mediterranean that is a source of violence, terrorism and murder”.

Stating the degradation of the situation in Libya two years after Washington had organised a coup in this country, David Ignatius directly indicated in the Washington Post’s editorial at the end of October earlier this year that Libya is a graphic illustration of the reasons why the USA’s credibility and influence have decreased in the Middle East and in the world as a whole. He reproached the Obama government for the fact that they have done nothing in the past two years to stop the collapse of Libya and its fall into anarchy.

Unfortunately, the example of Washington’s military adventure is not limited to Libya. The current situation in Iraq or Afghanistan clearly demonstrates that the tactics of the White House to bring new regimes to power by force in the regions which are strategically important for the USA is destined to failure and leads to awful tragedies for the population of these countries and increasing anti-American sentiments.

Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.