The nightmare that is post-Gaddafi Libya is showing no signs of improving any time soon.
Libyans who were promised democracy and progress by NATO and the international powers that rained bombs down across the country in 2011 have in fact been given nothing of the sort.
I have already chronicled the 2011 Libyan catastrophe at length in this book (still free to download), which comprehensively illustrates the international conspiracy conducted against Gaddafi and the Libyan people and decisively tears apart all of the false narratives about what was going on in Libya in 2011 in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.
So what is the reality of this ‘brave new Libya’ that was supposed to have been created through all the lies and bombs of 2011? We are now four years beyond the uprising and the murder of Gaddafi. For most of those intervening four years, the same corporate/news media that was so adamant about how terrible Gaddafi was and how necessary the international intervention was has been almost completely silent about Libya, declining to report on the country or to send anyone to Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte or anywhere else.
It was as if the media’s role was simply to demonise Gaddafi and once he was dead and the ‘regime change’ accomplished, the matter was over. It hasn’t been until the last nine months or so that mass-media organisations have reluctantly started to talk about Libya again, partly due to the fact that the increase in migrant deaths in the Mediterranean waters have made it impossible to pretend everything’s alright – because the Libyan tragedy has now directly caused a European crisis.
The reality is that the fall of Gaddafi’s administration has created all of the country’s worst-case scenarios: Western embassies have all left, the south of the country has become a haven for terrorists, and the Northern coast an uncontrollable hub for illegal migrant trafficking. Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all closed their borders with Libya (Tunisia is now even building an Israeli-style wall to cut itself off from Libya). This all occurs amidst a backdrop of widespread rape, assassinations and torture that completes the picture of post-Gaddafi Libya. This is Hilary Clinton and co’s gift to the Libyan people.
And the biggest joke is that the great ‘National Transitional Council’ that was propped up by the Western powers to replace the old republic is already history and there hasn’t been a proper government in Libya since Gaddafi’s death; now instead we have multiple rival ‘governments’ trying to assert themselves as the authority while the Western nations and the UN have absolutely no idea who to recognise, how to help or what to do.
Perhaps now, belatedly, some of our officials and diplomats might find themselves thinking back to all those offers Gaddafi and the old officials had made to negotiate a compromise.
And from 16th May 2014 (and ongoing) a Second Civil War has been going on in Libya, with the various factions who’d united to end the Gaddafi era now having turned on each other, as they were always bound to. Is anyone surprised by that? Did NATO and the West expect to fund, arm and unleash that level of bloodlust, violence and anarchy and then expect it to stop when Cameron or Obama clicked their fingers? Our governments, even the UN, simply left the Libyans to it after 2011. The killing never stopped. But the Hilary Clintons, the David Camerons and Nicolas Sarkosys of the world washed their hands of it and didn’t care anymore.
And instead of trying to fix the horror story they’d created in Libya, they all moved onto trying to create the same horror story in Syria, hoping for the same ‘victory’. And while the world’s attention turned to the vast Syria crisis (which itself sprang partly from the Libya crisis), Libya was sliding even further into the abyss.
Since 2011 Libya has been experiencing a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, a financial crisis, an environmental crisis and an infrastructure crisis. The country hasn’t been rebuilt from all the NATO bombing.
Benghazi is currently facing a major, ongoing humanitarian crisis. How bad is it? A petition was recently being circulated, started by a group of Libyan activists, demanding that Benghazi be declared a “disaster zone”. Benghazi, you will recall, was the initial focal point of Western ‘intervention’ in early 2011, thanks to a false narrative concocted by Western governments and mainstream media that Gaddafi had been “about to” carry out a “massacre” in the city, when in fact he had simply been attempting to retake the city from foreign-backed terrorists and gangs. Now the city that the French-led NATO forces bombed almost five years ago in order to protect the terrorist groups from the Libyan Army is “a disaster zone” at the mercy of ISIL/Daesh.
France, Britain and any other government can talk all they like now about the danger of ISIL being in Libya and the need to intervene – but never forget for a moment that the terrorists are only there because *our governments* sent NATO forces to ensure their victory.
NBC goes further and defines Libya as a “failed state”.
It has in fact been called a “failed state” several times recently by various analysts. A ‘failed state’? Who *made it* a ‘failed state’? Libya was the most prosperous, successful nation in Africa. NATO, the US, France, the UK and every other nation involved in the intervention in Libya took a successful, self-reliant nation and TURNED IT INTO A ‘FAILED STATE’ through bombing, the arming and supporting of terrorists and through targeted assassination. And now those same leaders, and the same corporate media propagandists who encouraged and celebrated the murder of Gaddafi and the intervention in Libya, have the gall, have the nerve, to casually label it ‘a failed state’, as if it’s somehow some mere, unfortunate thing that has happened because Arabs and Africans aren’t very good at managing things.
In fact, it was precisely because Gaddafi was making so much progress – not just in Libya, but in Africa – that the Western officials unleashed the Libyan apocalypse. See here for a comprehensive portrait of what Libya had been during the Gaddafi era; a poor, Third World country that was utterly transformed to the extent that in 2010 – just months before the 2011 ‘uprising’ – the UN rated Libya No.1 on its global index of ‘human development’. To fully understand the scale of the tragedy here, you have to understand what Libya *was* prior to the international ‘intervention’.
And what is Libya now?
This BBC piece on ‘Lawless Libya’ reflects how dire the situation is in the country. Numerous militias each govern their own patches of territory, with successive “governments” struggling to exercise control. Libya has essentially been turned into a mixture of the Wild West and the kind of tribal/warlord dynamics that defined Afghanistan during the 9/11 era. There are lots of different armed groups – up to 1,700, according to some sources – with entirely differing goals. But money and power are what is said to be motivating most forces and parties, with religious extremism motivating the others.
‘Libya continues to suffer from a chronic absence of security, with almost daily assassinations, bombings and kidnappings.’ This sounds like an absolute copy-and-paste of what much of Iraq was like following the US-led invasion. Which is of course what Gaddafi said would happen; “they will turn Libya into another Iraq, another Somalia…” he had said in February 2011.
The Libyan tribes, what’s left of the Libyan National army and the elected Parliament in Tobruk are working hard to rid their country of the Al-Qaeda, LIFG, Ansar al-Sharia, ISIS/ISIL and other extremist/terrorist brigades that Western governments imported into Libya in 2011 (or in the case of ISIL/Daesh, came into Libya after to take advantage of the utter helplessness of the country). But the Western-backed terrorist infestation of the country has proven impossible to cleanse.
And the lack of definitive government makes the problem even more impossible. Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council wrote a particularly grim blog post titled ‘Deepening Polarization in Libya, No Agreement in Sight’. In an irony of ironies, Libya’s PM was allegedly threatening protesters with troops just last year – the precise crime that Gaddafi was accused of having committed (but which he hadn’t); except this time no Western government was jumping all over that threat, demanding ‘intervention’.
As if things weren’t bad enough, the emergence of ISIL/Daesh in Libya has only exacerbated the nightmare.
‘Daesh in Libya’ is regarded to have emerged in Derna in 2014 as Libyan jihadists and mercenaries who’d been waging their Western-backed terror campaigns in Syria were returning to the fallen country that had been their first arena in 2011. Declaring allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’, they declared eastern Libya theirs.
While Libya was used as the springboard for the Syrian rebellion, many of the jihadists and Western-backed mercenaries never left; and the same gangs and militias who’d fought the 2011 rebellion against Gaddafi and the state simply decided to start fighting each other and trying to control territory and resources. Eastern Libya had long been an area where Islamists and jihadists had sought dominion, but the strong Libyan state under Muammar Gaddafi had kept jihadism suppressed up until 2011 when foreign governments, aided by NATO, bombed the Libyan state into oblivion in direct aid of the various jihadist and terrorist groups, paving the way for the establishment of these extremist ‘caliphates’.
NATO and the international forces bombed the way for Al-Qaeda and the other jihadist groups in 2011, entering into a direct alliance with them; it has made the subsequent ISIL/Daesh takeover inevitable.
The Libyan people themselves have had all of their weapons taken away by NATO and its on-the-ground proxy militias; and are therefore largely unable to defend themselves. The irony is that Gaddafi and the old government had tried to directly arm the Libyan civilians during the 2011 crisis – precisely so that they could defend themselves and their homes from the roving brigades of terrorists. Even very late in the 2011 crisis, Gaddafi had tried to negotiate an agreement with Western agencies that would’ve had him give up the fight and go into exile – his only condition was that a portion of the Libyan Army be allowed to stay in the country and continue to try to fight off the various terrorist gangs and foreign mercenaries that had been imported in. He was refused, even in this.
ISIL being able to take over Sirte and other Libyan cities isn’t surprising, given the utter absence of security or even a functioning state. NATO and the Western governments disarmed the Libyan population, making resistance close to impossible; moreover they left Sirte, as with most of the rest of the country, in ruins and with no functioning system of government or law-enforcement.
But the truly horrific post-script to the fall of Gaddafi was already unfolding long before ISIL arrived; it was unfolding, in fact, from before even Gaddafi’s brutal murder.
The entire, delicate social and cultural fabric of the country fell apart with Gaddafi’s death. While Gaddafi loyalists were tortured or killed, an unending process of crime and retaliation ensued, militias and splinter-groups broke off and tried to do their own thing, and religious extremism flourished as the Al-Qaeda-led terrorists who’d mostly fought the war continued to establish their ‘caliphates’ (just as Gaddafi had tried to tell Western media would happen), and impose their extreme religious law. Any sense of the national unity or identity that had been so key in the Gaddafi era was gone, along with any sense of secularism or inclusiveness. Instead, as in Syria and Iraq, sectarian lines formed and the violence spiralled.
All thought of African unity or development, so central to Gaddafi’s vision, was now gone. And indeed Black Africans in Libya were persecuted or murdered en masse by the Salafist-inspired jihadists. Aside from mass lynching of Black people that followed Gaddafi’s fall, Christians were also being persecuted once Gaddafi was gone.
Things like this and this didn’t happen in Gaddafi’s Libya, of course, as Gaddafi was vehemently opposed to sectarianism in general and to Islamic fundamentalism in particular; the character of the Green Revolution, while not completely secular in the Western sense, certainly wasn’t sectarian. The old Libya was all about national unity and identity. Post-Gaddafi Libya is the exact opposite; national identity is gone, while the religious extremists – many of them foreign and not Libyan – have free reign in much of the country. It’s the same, of course, in Syria and Iraq; wherever the foreign proxy terrorists go, minorities and Christians are persecuted or killed and the inter-cultural fabric is torn apart.
Following the end of Gaddafi’s rule, there were reports of attacks also against sites of Sufi Muslims. In late 2011, a Sufi school in Tripoli was stormed by armed men who “burned its library, destroyed office equipment and dug up graves of sages buried there,” and “turned the school into a Salafist mosque.” Sufism, by the way, is one of the oldest, most traditional interpretations of Islam; a minority sect in places like Libya, it is under attack from the various Salafi-inspired groups who want a puritanical, intolerant version of Islam to wipe away all other schools of thought. The Sufi Muslims traditionally place more emphasis on the spiritual, mystical side of the religion, somewhat comparable perhaps to the old Gnostics of early Christian traditions.
Sharia Law is in effect in various Libyan cities and towns, the Islamists establishing their various ’emirates’ just as Gaddafi said would happen. The same “Al-Qaeda Imams” Gaddafi told us were “in the mosques” guiding the uprising in 2011 are now in the town halls and civil buildings, legitimized by our Western governments. ‘Fatwas’ are being issued on a regular basis; ‘fatwas’ and indeed all the other traits of hardline Islamist/Salafist culture were entirely alien to Libya in the previous four decades.
Hardline Islamists ‘Ansar al-Sharia’ ride around in ‘police’ convoys looking very much like ISIS/ISIL, and this was even prior to the larger-scale ISIL invasion that has occurred this year. ‘Ansar al-Sharia’ in Derna is headed by Abu Sufian bin Qumu – a former Guantanamo inmate who was a major Al-Qaeda figure in the 2011 uprising. Much of the uprising was, again, commanded by Al-Qaeda figures; something that is comprehensively demonstrated here. Ansar al-Sharia in fact have worked in concert with ISIL to help the latter establish a major presence in Libya.
The status of women in the new, NATO-backed Libya is yet another dimension to the tragedy.
Gaddafi’s system championed women’s involvement in decision-making, education and rights issues, in a way that most Arab countries don’t. Hilary Clinton, laughably viewed by some in America as some kind ‘women’s rights’ campaigner, gave Libyan women Al-Qaeda in place of progress. It was in fact reported very soon after Gaddafi’s death that one of the earliest new laws being sought by a number of men was the legal right to still have sexual intercourse with the corpses of dead wives for a certain amount of time before burial. That’s the sort of level we’re talking about. Western commentators could make fun of Gaddafi having an all-female bodyguard unit if they like (sure, it was very odd), but the same people are silent about Libyan women being subject now to fundamentalist-Islamic rules and restrictions.
Unlike many other Arab nations, women in pre-2011 Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an equal income to men. The United Nations Human Rights Council had in fact praised Gaddafi in particular for his promotion of women’s rights, and it’s no coincidence that so many of the most ardent pro-Gaddafi loyalists were women. It’s all gone now.
In March 2013, for example, Sadiq Ghariani, the ‘Grand Mufti’, issued a fatwa against the UN Report on Violence Against Women and Girls, condemning it. Later in 2013, lawyer Hamida Al-Hadi Al-Asfar, advocate of women’s rights, was abducted, tortured and killed. It is alleged she was targeted for criticising the Grand Mufti’s declaration. No arrests were made. Ghariani in fact has been using the UK as a base from which to encourage the violent extremists, including Islamic State, to consolidate their control of Libya.
In the (forced) change from Gaddafi’s Libya to the post-NATO Libya, women have gone from being highly active in Libyan life, going to universities and being a major part of the work force, to now facing the new reality of Sharia Law and the possibility also of being sold to ISIS/ISIL fighters as “virgin brides”. This is the gift Hilary Clinton, Samantha Powers, Susan Rice and others have given the women of Libya; women who, like most Libyans now, live in humiliation in their own country where they once lived in dignity.
And of course the greatest sign, the greatest validation, of the great ‘success story’ of NATO and the West’s intervention in Libya has to be the thousands of people risking their lives to flee Libya across the sea in the hope of reaching Europe. This simply fulfils Gaddafi’s prediction prior to his murder that the Mediterranean would “become a sea of chaos” if the government fell. Some of these are Libyans, but many or most are refugees from other parts of Africa or the Middle East, who are being channeled through Libya and launched to sea by trafficking gangs and terror groups.
Amnesty International, who – for the record – utterly refuted the Western governments/media stories about the Gaddafi government’s alleged ‘crimes’ in 2011 – now also sum up the character of post-Gaddafi Libya best when they declare ‘Libya is a place full of cruelty’; ‘Thousands of foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum-seekers, face abductions for ransom, torture and sexual violence by traffickers, smugglers and organized criminal groups. Many are systematically subjected to discrimination and exploitation by their employers or face indefinite detention in appalling conditions on account of their immigration status. Religious minorities, in particular Christian migrants and refugees, are persecuted and are at highest risk of abuse from armed groups that seek to enforce their own interpretation of Islamic law’.
This grim analysis of post-Gaddafi Libya could go on and on; but you’ve gotten the picture by now. And again, see this article for a portrait of what Libya used to be. The international intervention in Libya in 2011 stands as one of the worst, most heinous war crimes in modern history. And for the people of Libya, the chaos, suffering, degradation and humiliation didn’t end in the bombing and violence of 2011, but continues to this day. They still don’t have a government. In most parts of Libya, they don’t have infrastructure or basic amenities. And in many cities and towns, they live every day in danger of violence, arrest, rape or assassination.
The arrival now of scores of ISIS/ISIL fighters and extremists into a Libya that the international powers have left defenseless is the final rancid icing on the cake. Because with the arrival of ISIL, things can only get even worse.