March 29, 2016
Libya - Tribes, Militia, Interests And Intervention - by Richard Galustian
The extensive piece below on the situation in Libya is by Richard Galustian
, a long time Middle East and North African security specialist and author. In February we discussed the whitewash
U.S. media is giving Hillary Clinton and the U.S., British and French 2011 war on Libya
. In March we borrowed from Richard Galustian's work in and on Libya for a look
at some curious personal interests in the current build up to a sequel of the earlier war.
Galustian discusses the situation on the ground in Libya, the details of the various local groups and interests involved and the continuing and coming international interference in Libya. He analyses possible alternative steps forward. His thoughts on the subject are based on his extensive on-the-ground knowledge of the tribes and militias of Libya. This presents a unique insight into the most complex labyrinth of inter-connected Libyan and foreign interests.
Libya - Tribes, Militia, Interests And Intervention
by Richard Galustian
It is something that had never happened in any country since the formation of the United Nations. The UN has, without an election, created unilaterally its own government for a country, and then immediately recognized it. The Government of National Accord, the GNA for Libya is a government based in exile and not elected but chosen by the "International Community".
A concerted effort over Easter for the GNA in exile in Tunis to 'take power' in Tripoli failed completely despite the spin and false optimism of the UN and the U.S. and UK in particular.
Let's rewind a little.
The recent United Nations plan to bring peace to Libya and eliminate ISIS was/is a two stage process fraught with great risk, uncertainty and is poorly thought out.
First is to persuade Libya’s factions to unite under a Government, the GNA while it is in exile. Second, to provide weapons, training and air support for a newly united Libyan army to attack ISIS.
These are totally unrealistic expectations that will never happen.
The background needs to be understood. The critical fact being that Libya’s main factions are divided into two very loose camps.
One camp supports the elected parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk. The other is made up of the previous parliament, the General National Congress (GNC) and supports 'Libya Dawn', an Islamist-led coalition of militias that include the extremist elements of the Muslim Brotherhood and former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) revolutionaries. The LIFG is an al-Qaeda offshoot.
Civil war began in July 2014 when 'Libya Dawn' seized Tripoli by force after the elections saw sharp losses for the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies including notably former leader of the LIFG, the infamous Abdel Hakim Belhadj, currently suing in the London Courts the then Foreign Minister and MI-6.
The HoR won international recognition straight after the UN announced its election was free and fair, but under intimidation (that's when Islamists destroyed Tripoli International Airport etc) from militias, the HoR fled east to Tobruk.
To further complicate the situation one must realize that within these two camps are a lattice work of rivalries and tribal divisions.
Libya has no ‘third force’ of police or army acceptable to all sides. The militias are the third force! Essentially they represents 'guns for hire'. The army and police are first and second.
The problem for the international community is while destroying ISIS is their stated priority, both Libya’s rival camps see each other as the greater threat. ISIS is a threat, but neither camp believes it is an existential threat, so the priority for both camps is fighting each other.
2.1 Regular forces, 2.2 Petroleum Facilities Guard, 2.3 Zintan + Warshefa militias 3 'Libya Dawn'
Bases: Derna, Sirte, Sabratha; Strength: 6,000 (Pentagon estimate)
1.1 In Derna
ISIS arrived in Libya in the summer of 2014 and established control of the eastern town of Derna, aided by a Yemeni preacher and a group of 200-300 ISIS fighters, many of them Libyan, includes many of the Al Badr Brigade, which had fought in Syria and Ansar Al Sharia whom some credit for killing the US Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.
In June 2015 a mixed force of regular army and an Al Qaida affiliated militia, Omar Mukhtar Brigade, pushed ISIS out of the town to its base in the forested green mountains to the south, the only high ground in the East.
Rumors that Qatari backed, Abdel Hakim Belhadj is linked to ISIS have never been proven. His LIFG was by the way designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S.
1.2 In Sirte
The ISIS headquarter in Libya is in Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi’s birthplace and the site of his capture and execution at the end of the 2011 uprising in October.
Since establishing itself there in 2014, ISIS has pushed outwards, and now holds 150 miles of the Mediterranean coast either side of the town facing Europe. It has also pushed south, raiding production units in Sirte Basin, Libya’s largest collection of oil fields.
In December 2015 it attacked Libya’s principle oil ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, east of Sirte, setting storage tanks ablaze. In March 2016 it attacked Sarir, the largest remaining oil field still in production, 200 miles south east of Sirte.
The Pentagon estimates ISIS has 6,000 fighters and anecdotal reports suggest more are arriving hiding among migrant streams crossing Libya’s southern border. The majority of ISIS fighters in Libya are foreign, with contingents from Tunisia, Chad, Yemen, Syria, Mali, Niger and most recently Senegal. Other estimates put ISIS numbers closer to 10,000 and in future that number will undoubtedly grow.
1.3 In Sabratha
The main ISIS base in western Libya was at Sabratha, 30 miles west of Tripoli. Remnants still remain there.
In February U.S. air strikes successfully struck an ISIS compound killing 41 fighters, the bulk of them, according to ID cards recovered, were from Tunisia. Subsequently ISIS units overran the town, beheading 12 police officers in the police headquarters.
In early March ISIS units briefly captured areas of the Tunisian border town of Ben Gardan, before succumbing to government troops in fighting that left 50 dead. The U.S. strikes and subsequent fighting exposed links between the town’s Libya Dawn leadership and ISIS, who were able to use private houses leased by townspeople.
2 Tobruk (HoR) Government Forces
Regular army and militias from eastern Libya, militias south and west Libya. Strength estimates for full and part time fighters: 15,000-30,000. Between 12 and 30 fighter bombers + helicopters.
2.1 Regular forces
Tobruk’s most powerful force is the regular army. It is based in eastern Libya and has recently captured the bulk of Benghazi from Islamist militias and ISIS. It is led by Tobruk commander-in-chief Khalifa Haftar, probably the most polarizing figure in Libya. He is more popular than Western media portrays. He has vowed to destroy Islamist forces which he brands terrorists, and is supported and hated in equal measure.
The otherwise most popular soldier in the East is the enigmatic much respected Col. Wanis Bukhamada.
The army’s key units are the Saiqa and Zawiya-Martyrs’ brigades based in Benghazi and the 204 tank brigade. These units have some characteristics of militias, in that their personnel are not interchangeable and commanders decide in advance if they will perform various actions. But they cooperate and have ability to coordinate combined attacks with limited supporting artillery.
The air force is commanded by Haftar’s close aid Gen. Saqr al-Jerushi and has grown to more than 16 planes and helicopters. It has the capacity to launch accurate strikes on shipping attempting to bring weapons to Islamist units in Benghazi. In early March it broadcast footage showing the aftermath of an air strike on three ships that had been bringing weapons to Islamists in Benghazi from Misrata. Air force senior Officers say better training, pilots and planes, presumably mostly from Egypt, have given them the ability to spot and hit targets, even at night, at sea, and at least half a dozen similar strikes have taken place since October.
2.2 Petroleum Facilities Guard
Officially a defense ministry formation, the PFG is a tribal militia led by a charismatic and unpredictable yet important warlord, Ibrahim Jidran and his brothers who control four principle eastern Libyan oil ports.
When attacked by 'Libya Dawn' in 2014 and ISIS in 2015 it defended the ports and cooperated with Haftar in clearing Islamists from the nearby town of Ajbaiya. But Jidran remains emotionally unstable, and has in the past suggested switching support to 'Libya Dawn'. He has signaled support for the GNA though that could change! This is a fairly typical trait - for Libyans, to switch allegiances regularly which makes analyzing the situation on the ground so difficult.
2.3 Zintan + Warshefa militias
The most powerful pro-government militia in western Libya is from Zintan, 90 km south west of Tripoli. It formed in the 2011 uprising, and at that time united with the rebel militia of Misrata to capture Tripoli. When Misrata joined Libya Dawn to capture the city in 2014, Zintan militia, who were until then the main pro government unit, quit the town and left the international airport after a six week battle. They returned to their almost impregnable mountainous region.
Importantly Zintan holds Saif Gaddafi.
Since 2014 Zintan has allied with militias from the Warshefani tribal belt, a crescent south of the capital. They have an integrated command center in Zintan with numbered brigades and their units cooperate well in offensive operations. Zintan’s best equipped unit is SAWAC, which deploys American uniforms and helmets and UAE manufactured armored cars. Its component parts dissolved in the 2014 fighting and joined other Zintan brigades but have since reformed.
Zintan now cooperates with Haftar, but, typically for Libyans, from time to time declines to take orders from him. Its operations are usually coordinated with air force bombers commanded by General Saqr Jerushi operating from the giant Wattiya desert air base north of Zintan. In December U.S. special forces were photographed at the airbase, reportedly engaged in reconnaissance of the Sabratha ISIS base 30 km north which American jets struck in February.
Militia led forces holding Tripoli, the western coastal belt and districts of eastern city of Benghazi. Strength estimates full and part time fighters 15,000-40,000. 3-6 fighter bombers operating out of Misrata and from Tripoli's Mitiga Air Base which doubles as a civilian airport following Tripoli International Airport's destruction.
'Libya Dawn' militias are broadly speaking divided between Islamist and tribal. The strongest and most important tribal militias are primarily from Misrata, as well as western coastal Libyan towns, reviving an ancient coastal-interior tribal fault line. The new UN-backed GNA has split Libya Dawn, probably permanently, with some militias in favor, others not, and consequential clashes in Tripoli between the two.
'Libya Dawn' was formed in July 2014 after Islamist and Misrata allies suffered defeat at the ballot boxes, in elections for the House of Representatives parliament, which was to replace the former General National Congress (GNC) parliament in which Islamists had enjoyed a narrow majority. Libya Dawn militias captured Tripoli in six weeks fighting that saw most embassies leave for Tunis or Malta and, as stated earlier, the International airport (TIP) completely destroyed.
Dawn then proclaimed support for a rump of the former GNC, composed of approximately 30 Islamist and Misrata former MPs. The exact number is not verified because the rump GNC holds sessions in secret. This newly constituted version of the GNC appointed a government led by a prime minister and cabinet called the National Salvation Government (NSG).
After a disputed Supreme Court judgement in November the rump GNC insisted it was the "real" parliament. The elected HoR now residing in Tobruk denounced the judgement, saying the Supreme Court judges were intimidated, in fear of their lives when they were forced to make their deliberations and when they were physically surrounded by Dawn militias.
Also as stated earlier, the UN's GNA plan has divided Libya Dawn militias, some in favor, some against although the process is fluid and dynamic and ever changing.
3.1 'Libya Dawn' - Pro GNA militias
3.1.1 Rada, or Special Deterrence Force
Formerly Nawasi, a Salafist formation, led by Abdul Rauf Kara. It is the self appointed religious police in Tripoli, ensuring women’s dress codes and closing shops displaying female garments. It clashes regularly with drug suppliers and usually summarily executes them on the spot.
It operates from Mitiga Airport, the city center Libya airport, formerly only an AF air base. Its units are well equipped, with imported tan colored Toyotas with armor plating. To be fair Rada has brought a degree of security and stability to central Tripoli. Rada is expected to become the key security force for the GNA if it ever enters Tripoli. It has over 3,000 personnel.
3.1.2 Misrata: Halboos, Central Shield, Al Majoub, 166 Brigade
Halbous is an armored brigade, nicknamed the Black Brigade in the 2011 uprising because it painted its vehicles this color to differentiate from tan-colored Gaddafi forces for NATO jets. Founded by two engineer brothers both killed in the revolution, its units have held back from militia fighting and diplomats regard Halboos as having, as a result, good relations with both Tripoli and Zintan.
Halboos and Zintan negotiated a ceasefire in October 2015 which is holding. Optimistic plans call for Rada, Halboos and Zintan units to jointly patrol Tripoli to protect the GNA. This is an unlikely coalition. Some Zintan and Misrata commanders say they are reluctant, fearing increased firefights leading to mostly civilian casualties.
Privately, each expresses fears that less disciplined militias from their towns will take the opportunity to enter Tripoli, with family/tribal connections obliging regular units to avoid confronting them. Misrata’s Al Majoub Brigade and Central Shield militias, which have also refrained from gangsterism, also support GNA. Misrata’s 166 brigade is the lead formation battling ISIS on the Sirte front. It supports the GNA and UK and French special forces are reportedly advising it prior to an inevitable planned assault on Sirte.
3.2 'Libya Dawn' - Anti-GNA militias
3.2.1 Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR)
The LROR is a Salafist brigade formed as the headquarters of 'Libya Shield', a Muslim Brotherhood ‘parallel army’ set up by the former General National Congress (GNC) in 2013 as counterweight to the regular army.
In reaction to the military uprising against Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt in the summer of 2013, LROR and Shield units deployed around Tripoli and were paid, bribed, whatever you like to call it, 900 million dinars on orders of GNC president Nuri Abu Sahmain.
In October that year LROR kidnapped then prime minister Ali Zeidan from a Tripoli hotel. Since then, LROR, like most Tripoli militias, has seen membership rise and fall as fighters join and leave other units and return; and endless cycle of defections. Its leadership has declared it will fight any attempt by the GNA to control Tripoli.
3.2.2 Haitham Tajouri
A young maverick, not very smart even by the standards of Libyan militia leaders, he opposed LROR in 2013, claiming false credit for freeing Zeidan.
Since then his militia from Tajoura in south west Tripoli has fought alongside and against LROR in a continually changing alliances. Politically he has been outflanked by Rada which has UN approval, and is opposed to the GNA though he could change his mind in a heart beat. In March his units captured Gaddafi’s former Hall of the People to deny it to the GNA as a possible base. That said the two most favored locations in order of preference for the GNA would be the former UN base by the Med adjacent to the futuristic Palm City.
A most important revolutionary figure who maintains a very low profile is Hisham Bishr; a man to watch in future; an intelligent thoughtful former librarian.
3.2.3 Al-Samoud Front
Al Samoud is an amalgamation of 12 militias led by Misrata Islamist politician Saleh Badi, who led the most powerful 'Libya Dawn' force in its 2014 capture of Tripoli, capturing and then burning Tripoli International Airport. Badi formed the front from the most politically reliable units from both Misrata, eastern Tripoli and the coastal towns of Zawiya and Sabratha in reaction to gains made in 2015 fighting by Zintan. Badi is adamantly opposed to the GNA. To be frank, he is considered by many to be a thug, pure and simple.
3.2.4 Benghazi Shura Council
The complexity of Libya’s inter-twined tribal and Islamist conflict is highest in Benghazi.
After the 2011 uprising the Muslim Brotherhood GNC installed three Libya Shield brigades in the city: February 17 Martyrs, Rafallah al Sahati (commanded my Muhammad al-Ghariani) and Libya Shield 1 (commanded by Wissam bin Ahmaid) All three were MB in orientation, and advised by Ismail Salabi, brother of Libya’s key Muslim Brotherhood preacher Ali Salabi, based now in Turkey, Erdogan being the world champion of 'the Brothers' as they are known.
Qatar’s wish that the three brigades should support Libya’s 2012 elections saw a breakaway group, Ansar al Sharia, formed. Washington accuses Ansar of the attack on the US cluster of buildings, wrongly called a consulate, which was protected by a small force from February 17, that killed in Benghazi ambassador Chris Stevens in September 2012.
However, there was overlap between the Brotherhood brigades, Ansar and other terror formations. After a massacre of 30 civilians in June 2013, Libya Shield 1’s headquarters was overrun. IEDs and a makeshift jail created in the former toilet block were discovered. Former Shield militiamen recalled that the bulk of Shield 1 were local teenagers, paid to guard the compound. Within the compound was a forbidden area of several sand colored buildings where foreign Arabs worked. Shield militiamen were forbidden to talk to them and surmised they were operating a terror campaign in Benghazi.
Through 2012 and 2013 Islamist units launched terror attacks, mostly assassinations, against military and police officers, judges and civil rights activists to intimidate and control the population. They culminated in the slaying of two young activists and the killing of one of Libya's most prominent activist, Salwa Bughagis, who photographed the militia unit that killed her.
In May 2014 Gen. Khalifa Haftar, then a retired general (who had lived the previous two decades in Virginia USA), launched Operation Dignity, with a mixed army and militia force attacking both Brotherhood and Ansar militias.
In February this year, according to Le Monde aided by French special forces, army units overran most Islamist positions in the town. By then, Islamist units had morphed into two parallel structures.
Brotherhood militias, severely depleted, had merged with Ansar al Sharia to form the Benghazi Shura Council. It was supported politically and with deliveries of weapons and fighters from Misrata and Tripoli and financed by the Central Bank of Libya.
Fighting both in competition and alongside were units of ISIS, which grew quickly among Shura areas, imposing harsh discipline. The Islamists were based in districts populated by people from western Libya suspicious of the eastern tribal majority.
4 Prospect of a Divided Country
Until 1934 Libya did not exist as a country, and was divided into three regions created by Ottoman rulers. Cyrenaica, in the east, Tripolitania in the west and Fezzan in the south. Italian colonizers displaced the Ottomans after World War One, invented the name Libya and united the three provinces.
Of the three provinces, the only homogeneous one is Cyrenaica (East Libya), where tribal leaders have well established rules for mediating conflict. For instance, when the Ajdabiya units of the PFG refused to allow Haftar units, from tribes further east, to enter the town to battle ISIS, Hafar demurred. Negotiations followed, the balance tipped by the strength of the regular army, and after tribal leaders agreed, army units entered the town.
Tripolitania (West Libya) and Fezzan (South Libya) are split, with local squabbles taking precedence over rivalry with other provinces.
Tripolitania is home to four million Libyans with a tribal divide separating the coast from the interior. Fezzan is split between ethnic conflict between gangs from Arab, Tobu and Tuareg peoples, some aligning with Tobruk, others with Tripoli in ever-changing loyalties.
5 Deployment of International Military Forces
The U.S. has struck militant positions in Libya in June and November 2015 and in February this year. It uses bombers based in both the UK and Italy. U.S. Marines are based in Italy and Spain for use to extract downed pilots. U.S. drones operate over Libya from both Italy and Niger.
In addition, several aircraft, including a Dornier and Beechcraft, used by U.S. Special Operations Command operated most days of March off the Libyan coast, visible because they use flight transponders when in international airspace.
In December 2015 20 U.S. servicemen in civilian clothes were rather embarrassingly photographed among dune buggies and a USSOC Dornier at Al Wattiya base near Zintan. The Pentagon says it has special forces in Libya seeking alliances with militias to attack ISIS. Meanwhile Barack Obama has said the U.S. will continue to launch air strikes on militant “targets of opportunity” in Libya.
France has an aircraft carrier, Charles De Gaulle exercising with the Egyptian navy in the Mediterranean as of March 18, after it returned from deployment in the Persian Gulf.
Additionally, France has a force of 3,000 deployed in Niger and other parts of the Magreb, Operation Barkhane, which intercepts suspected jihadist convoys entering and leaving Libya. Guided by U.S. drones, the interceptions have seen several battles. However, the forces say they are unable to distinguish ISIS jihadist recruits moving across the border unarmed, from the tens of thousands of migrants making the same journey. The migrants are actually a 'Trojan horse' for ISIS.
Le Monde reported French special forces and intelligence personnel have been operating from Benghazi’s Benina airport in support of Gen.Khalifa Haftar. Photographs of their alleged compound have been circulated on social media. Though this was denied by the much respected and popular other military officer, the head of SF in Benghazi, Col. Wanis Bukhamada.
Britain has fighter bombers, unarmed drones and reconnaissance aircraft in Cyprus.
In February the UK announced a 20-strong unit was advising Tunisia on protection of its border against ISIS incursions. Germany has also announced advisors deployed for the same purpose.
5.2 Troop deployments
Detailed plans have not been released for deployment. Italy has said 3,000 troops may be provided, the UK up to 1,000. France, Germany and Spain may join. It is likely training would be concentrated in 'Libya Dawn' areas. In Tripoli, training would take place in several disused army bases on the south-east of the city in Tajura district. Zliten police college to the east will probably not be used after it was devastated by an IS truck bomb. Other deployments run the risk of obstruction or violence. Southern cities are considered too unsafe by continuing factional war. Benghazi would prove too controversial, but Tobruk would offer security. There is a thin line when describing 'trainers' and combat troops. The head of the British Parliament's All Party Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt MP, himself a former soldier, voiced the strongest opposition to the UK deploying any troops describing his Committees actions actions against the British Governments plan as "I hope we put a bullet in that plan."
The UN Security Council has heard a recommendation from experts that an armed UN security force of thousands is necessary before the mission can return.
A report leaked to Reuters written by the famously incompetent former communist, the EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini, recommends an armed security force to protect EU advisors. The EU wants to send in more than 100 advisors from the European Border Assistance Mission, who evacuated the capital in the 2014 fighting. A hundred can achieve nothing. They also want to hand over €100m to the GNA. That would come in use to bribe militias, well initially anyway.
6 Divisions among Outside Powers
Libya is a strategic asset. It holds the largest oil reserves in Africa and has more than $100 billion in foreign assets and cash. The oil is light and sweet, placing it in the top four percent of world premium oil. It remains a strategic prize. Libya has also many other minerals that have yet to be exploited.
Libya Dawn’s Muslim Brotherhood component has seen it attract support and weapons from principally Turkey while Egypt and UAE do the same for the House of Representatives (HoR) and its rather maverick but popular commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar. This popularity is understated by the mainstream western media.
The GNA plan is led less by the UN than by the U.S. State Department and the UK Foreign Office. Both believe it is strategically important to ensure the Brotherhood retains a position in North Africa, after it - Morsi and Co - was replaced by force in Egypt as well as losing elections in Tunisia. The American and the British, this author maintains, are mistaken and that it is a gross error on both their parts.
Never forget that the mercurial, some say insane, leader of Turkey is the worlds only Muslim Brotherhood governed country.
The MB is unwilling to accept a place in parliament commensurate with its 14-17 percent electoral support, fearing, possibly correctly, that it will be persecuted. Instead, it is demanding a guaranteed chunk of power, policed by its own force, with control of at least part of Tripoli and at least part of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL).
An important fact that needs to be acknowledged is that pitted against MB influenced 'Libya Dawn' is nevertheless the legitimate parliament in Tobruk consisting of all the other parties and factions, forming a nebulous chaotic whole without a recognizable ruling group and with opposing group factions within it. Parliament has never managed to hold a session with more than 140 of its 188 MPs present and recent sessions have fallen below 100.
The position of foreign powers remains mixed.
France is more lukewarm in its support for the MB, but is united with Britain and the U.S. in wanting a rapid end to the civil war and the destruction of ISIS. Its special forces reportedly helped Haftar capture most of Benghazi. The fall of Benghazi, assuming it is completed, will represent the most strategic shift in the civil war since it began in July 2014, handing Tobruk the east, the bulk of the oil, and the upper hand. If truth be know, France would like the South of Libya (Fezzan) for a variety of obvious reasons associated with controlling Libya's southern neighbors.
Italy has, to all intent and purposes, sided with 'Libya Dawn', in part because Dawn controls ENI assets and the important Melitah terminal of the Greenstream gas pipeline to Europe west of Tripoli. An Italian deployment to Tripoli is seen by both camps as a decisive gesture in support of Libya Dawn.
Germany and other European states follow the lead of the most prominent three western powers on the UN Security Council.
Russia remains the enigma. It has joined with Egypt in proposing a UNSC resolution to lift the arms embargo for the regular army which will benefit Haftar. There is speculation in Libya that as Britain and the US move closer to the Muslim Brotherhood in Tripoli, Russia will increase her support for Tobruk.
On March 14 Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said any western military intervention in Libya must have UN Security Council approval. Legally speaking the move is unnecessary as UNSC Resolution 1970 from 2011 remains in force.
However, the statement is seen as a clear break with western powers. If intervention were to go ahead without Russian agreement, there is the possibility Russia, with Egypt's help, will deploy in eastern Libya.
One other danger of the GNA is that its existence causes Libya to split because of the nature, the make up, of the so called government. While a majority of the 9-strong presidency council are non Islamist, they are obliged to meet in Tripoli under control of the MB, the 'Libya Dawn' Islamist and Misratan units who control the city and its institutions at present. They (the presidency council) have been threatened with arrest should they enter Tripoli. Without eastern or southern forces, it is likely eastern and possibly southern presidency members will either boycott the GNA or stay away for fear of immediate kidnap.
In this case, the GNA if it succeeds to get to Tripoli, will operate under the same intimidation, extended to the Central Bank and other ministries, that the GNC now operates under, effectively the GNA will become a 'Libya Dawn mark 2'.
In this, the UK and U.S. may feel they have met their apparent objective of securing the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, because international recognition status will have switched from the Tobruk parliament to the GNA. A mad idea by anybody's measure.
In effect, under this scenario, the division of Libya remains the same, but recognition status switches from the eastern government to the GNA which as explained will fast become 'Libya Dawn mark 2'. Such a scenario carries with it the possibly of split recognition. Egypt, UAE and possibly Russia will likely not agree to switch recognition to the GNA and maintain it's ties to the HoR in the East.
Italy has offered 3,000 soldiers and the UK has suggested up to 1,000, to train a GNA army. The UK as explained earlier is highly unlikely to do this.
Most of these forces will be engaged in support and 'force protection'. Diplomats say the deployment is also and primarily aimed at providing foreign troops on the ground to strengthen the control of the GNA, while not acknowledging this publicly.
However, the deployment carries risks. A former training initiative, agreed at the 2013 G6 summit in Lock Earne saw the UK, U.S., Italy, Turkey and Jordan agree to train Libyan forces, but outside Libya because of security concerns.
The U.S. training plan for 5,000 Libyans in Bulgaria was abandoned. Britain abandoned after some months the training of 300 recruits in Cambridgeshire after several were jailed for various offenses including male rape. Jordan curtailed its training after a group of recruits rioted in their dorms in Amman. Italy trained more than 200 without incident. Turkey’s training was compromised by its support for 'Libya Dawn'. Remember that Turkey is headed by the world's only Muslim Brotherhood government.
Libyan loyalties are to the tribe and family. "Tribes trump religion" is a popular saying by some. As in Lebanon and Iraq, units formed by recruits from different tribes and groups have low cohesion. Tribal and Islamist units have high cohesion, but are self-governing, refusing orders from higher commanders.
The risk for foreign 'trainers' is that they train militias backed by the GNA, creating a fresh fighting division in Libya. This is like putting wood on a fire.
A second risk is that a proportion of equipment delivered to these formations will be illicitly sold to other militias and ISIS.
A third risk is force protection. As in Iraq, ISIS deploys trucks laden with explosive driven by suicide bombers. Such bombs are guaranteed to destroy the outer guard post of a base. Western troops will initially rely on Libyan militias to control outer security. But attacks by ISIS may see the militias reluctant to do so. Killing of foreign troops will raise political problems in the West. Politicians will criticize not just the deployment, but also the likelihood that if the deployment continues, there will be further casualties. The bottom line is; from where will these forces be recruited, who will lead them, against whom and with what legal protections? Unless the state enjoys a monopoly on force, few Libyans will likely join a foreign backed 'army' for a government in exile that has no organic legitimacy, traction or policy for the State beyond combating ISIS.
However, Pentagon planners favor a more direct approach than their civilian counterparts. In January the U.S. Defense Department said its special forces are in Libya seeking to “partner” with local militias in the fight against ISIS.
Such partnerships would be short term and ad hoc. They would see special forces support ground attacks and direct air strikes, in what would be a repeat of the NATO bombing of Gaddafi forces in 2011.
This strategy also carries risks. ISIS in Sirte are in a built up area, and western forces will not want to be blamed for civilian casualties.
Also, the bombing of Sabratha exposed the ties some Libya Dawn factions, in this case the city leadership, have with ISIS.
8.1 Sanctions - UN option to stop and search ships and planes
While Tobruk forces get weapons and ammunition, mostly Russian made, across Egypt’s border, 'Libya Dawn' rely on ship and plane transport from Turkey, according to the UNSC Panel of Experts report of March 2015. But many ask how and why when Turkey is part of NATO? A seemingly unanswerable question, well one no one in the West has the balls to ask.
A proportion of the 'Libya Dawn' supplies and fighters go to ISIS. Cutting sea and air routes would cut ISIS supplies but also those of Dawn. By contrast, the UN has no means of enforcing an arms embargo on the Egyptian border, without Cairo’s agreement. Thus, enforcing the embargo will see the Tobruk-Dawn military head to head change to the advantage of Tobruk.
8.2 Muslim Brotherhood
Britain's and the U.S.'s security and intelligence communities are allegedly concerned about the overlap between the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Part of the reason that British and American politicians have for supporting the MB is the hope that they think it represents a non-violent outlet for jihadists who might over while be encouraged to join 'more extreme' terrorist organizations. These are echoes of the ridiculous debate about good and bad terrorists in Syria.
But the Brotherhood’s decision to rebel against the elected Tobruk parliament has cast doubt over this assessment. Some 'Dawn' units are interchangeable with some ISIS units, although many are not. And many of Tripoli's ostensibly Islamist units are closer in character to armed criminal gangs. The MB enjoys little support in what is a tribal society, winning between 13 and 17 percent in elections and the few authoritative opinion polls since the revolution. Its success in winning the 2012 election was attributed by critics to it inserting MB candidates posing as independents, notably religious figures. The MB has an extensive network in the U.S. whose leadership enjoys access directly to the White House.
8.3 Libyan Institutions
Libya’s overseas assets and oil income are controlled by the Central Bank, National Oil Corporation and Libya Investment Authority. The chairmen of all three were replaced by the HoR in late 2014, but refused to leave, staying in office in Tripoli. Officially they declare they are independent of both Dawn and the HoR, but the UNSC panel of experts reports that intimidation and political links ensure all three work with Dawn.
The Libya political agreement (LPA) calls for the HoR chairs to be dismissed, leaving the Tripoli chairs in charge, and, for opponents, giving 'Dawn' access to Libya revenues.
Without resolution, this may see a break, as the east refuses to export oil from eastern ports if the income returns to a 'Libya Dawn' controlled Tripoli.
If Egypt, UAE and Russia continue to recognize Tobruk and the HoR which includes the Al Thinni government, then Libya will see the complicated reality of the east able to sell oil, and receive income, from those three states while the GNA in Tripoli sells to certain favored western powers.
An added complication is allegations recently made publicly by both the UK ambassador Peter Millett and the UNSC panel of experts claiming the Tripoli central bank (CBL) is paying militias. The UNSC says it also has evidence that the CBL is paying Ansar al Sharia directly, who are listed by the UN and the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
Central bank governor El Sedik al Kabir, now a resident of Malta, has denied the reports, but evidence that he is paying armed groups, militias and possibly terrorists may see foreign oil buyers withhold payments, fearing in particular prosecution by the United States.
The fate of Benghazi is the hinge on which the Libya civil war turns. If the army complete Benghazi’s capture, eastern Libya will be free of Islamist units and able to exploit oil fields holding two thirds of Libyan production.
It will be de facto independent of Tripoli and able to resist the GNA. The Muslim Brotherhood and some Islamist brigades in Tripoli say they will support the GNA only if the UN can ensure a supply corridor to preserve their garrison in Benghazi.
UN envoy Martin Kobler has tried to facilitate this through, amongst other ways, a Qatar backed Swiss charity, pushing for it to be allowed access to Shura Council areas of Benghazi. Success will allow a regular supply pipeline and will cement the front lines, denying Haftar control of the city.
For this reason Tobruk forces are likely to resist the move. Kobler’s decision to back the charity has brought back echoes of the controversy of his predecessor's Bernadino Leon departure to live and work for the UAE government. In October last year Leon emails were revealed showing him accepting a job from the UAE and offering them inside information on the peace process. At best described as a conflict of interest.
Paradoxically, a de facto division is already underway. Most Benghazi residents from western tribes have fled, as have many non-Dawn citizens from Tripoli and its environs. The UN says half a million of Libya’s six million population are displaced by war. In Benghazi, eastern tribes say that if residents from western tribes are allowed back, Islamist militias will reform among them.
The international community, if possible in an ideal world, including Russia, should forget Libya's internal rivalries for now and, using overwhelming force focus only on ISIS, by air sea assets and boots on the ground, and once and for all eradicate ISIS in Libya, which some Pentagon sources privately say is possible within as little as a two week period.
If not this, then there are no easy policy options for Western forces in Libya.
Doing nothing means risking the civil war getting worse, Libya tipping into humanitarian crisis and ISIS expanding to dominate the country.
Options for striking ISIS fall into three choices.
1 - Do nothing.
This is likely to see ISIS grow as the civil war worsens. For the moment ISIS is not a mass movement among Libyans. However, growing numbers of foreign fighters are joining its ranks particularly those fleeing Syria and Iraq. They arrive in Libya courtesy of assistance by a NATO ally, Turkey. Go figure!
2- Air Strikes Lite.
Air strikes without government permission are technically legal, as they are covered by the UNSC Resolution 1973 in 2011. However, they are politically difficult for western governments, notably Great Britain and France.
The Pentagon “war lite” plan for air strikes backed by ad hoc alliances with local militias may fail if they cannot achieve quick results.
3 - Unity government which then can be followed by Western air strikes.
Accept Western air strikes have already occurred without that need; witness the bombing of Sabratha by the Americans.
The UN plan, engineered principally by the U.S. State Department and UK Foreign Office, relies for success on the acceptance of a unity government, the UN picked GNA.
Talks on this broke down late last year, with the elected parliament, the HoR, was unwilling to give 'Libya Dawn' more power than its voter share entitled it to. The HoR wants the ballot box votes to prevail over guns.
Instead, led by U.S. and UK diplomats, who provide the impetus and expertise for Kobler, the GNA has been literally forced through.
Its legitimacy is built on very shaky ground. The GNA was rejected by both the GNC in Tripoli and the HoR in Tobruk, albeit with chaos in both so called parliaments and significant factions in both for and against it.
The GNA is built around the Libya political agreement. This calls for a prime minister, Fayez Seraj, a low profile Tripoli politician and businessman to rule as part of a 9 strong presidential council. None chosen by Libyans but by the UN!
The HoR leadership disrupted attempts to have a vote, however a suspiciously looking dubious letter was signed by allegedly up to 100 MPs declaring they supported the GNA but some say they were prevented from voting.
How many MPs signed it is unclear with several complaining they were absent. The letter, if genuine, is not enough for the political agreement underpinning the GNA to come into effect. Crucially, this agreement calls for international recognition, and control of oil income, to pass to the GNA.
There is further controversy because the heads of all three key state institutions the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Libya Investment Authority (LIA) were replaced by Tobruk in late 2014.
The political agreement cancels those replacements, with power reverting back to the three pro-Dawn chairmen who, despite being sacked, remained in control of the institutions in Tripoli. The UK, UN 'Libya Dawn' and the institutions themselves insist they are independent of both sides which is poppycock according my observations. In fact the UN Panel of Experts has actually reported that the Tripoli branches are controlled by 'Libya Dawn' militias, often through violence and intimidation.
Plans call for 'Libya Dawn’s' Rada and assorted Misrata brigades to provide security, carrying the risk that the GNA will assume the position that the GNC now enjoy. The difference for practical purposes is that international recognition of supporting powers will switch from Tobruk to Tripoli. However, Egypt, UAE and Russia may continue recognizing Tobruk, which will institutionalize, and quite possibly accelerate, the civil war.
Never forget, what comes with international recognition is the potential of unfrozen cash and assets representing tens of billions of dollars to the GNA who are currently just a government in exile.
To get a sense of proportion of anyone trying to govern Libya, to 'pay off' all the Militias and tribes as former PM Ali Zeidan did, would cost around $30B a year alone! The annual budget average in last 5 years has been around $70B in total for 6 million people.
If the GNA can get to Tripoli to govern, this will leave western military forces, if deployed, likely to be embedded among 'Libya Dawn' units, and facing attack from ISIS but opposition from the regular army. An unenviable situation to say the least.
An international meeting to discuss military training deployment and air strikes was held in Rome on March 18 with up to 30 nations invited. However, problems with the GNA entering Tripoli, and fears it could trigger worse fighting in the capital, saw no decisions reached.
The UK also has a new obstacle. On March 16 the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is investigating UK policy in Libya, and indeed PM David Cameron himself, demanded the government seek permission for any Libya deployment from parliament. The UK, which had been expected to take a lead in air strikes, military training, logistics and security in Tripoli has had to put its plans on ice. The British government then promptly announced it had no plans for deployments, and promised parliament to announce such plans if they developed. A volte face.
This has been a blow to its coalition allies but prime minister David Cameron is wary of having another Syria-style debate on military action against ISIS in Libya. U.S. policy on Libya is also uncertain, because the Republicans, who may win the presidency in November, are hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose organization in the States has regular access directly to President Obama.
At time of writing the GNA has committed itself to moving from Tunis to Tripoli "within days". That was over two weeks ago. They talk boldly of moving "within days" where wiser heads say it will take "weeks and months".
Legally, because it is recognized by the U.S., UK and France, it can request foreign air strikes in Libya and control overseas funds from Tunis. However, for presentational reasons, each foreign government wants a military assistance request to come only once it, the GNA, is installed in Tripoli not while it is in exile.
The GNA process is on a clock, because special forces and air assets were committed in December and January. Western military planners say these forces cannot stay in theater or primed indefinitely. They must either be used, or withdrawn and the operation cancelled for several months. With ISIS growing and the migrant season beginning with the arrival of spring weather, Western diplomats fear political pressure if they contemplate an extended military delay.
This author emphatically believes the West, certainly Europe, has no more time if we are to stop ISIS strengthening it's position in Libya which would represent a real and imminent threat to the very existence of the EU.
For the UN plan to work, the GNA must go to Tripoli, which itself is very doubtful since it cannot be secured there even if embedded in Palm City with the UN Headquarters next door, much like a more concentrated (but more isolated) Green Zone like that that originally existed in Baghdad in 2003.
But in so doing, it would certainly spark a more intense round of the civil war, leaving only ISIS as the winners of the spoils of such an internal conflict. One outcome if that happens is that certainly East Libya would declare unilaterally independence and become a new country, as happened to South Sudan. The second consequence much more dire and important than the split of Libya is that ISIS will eventually destroy Europe as we know it.
Such a break up of states in the MENA region is a trend that will not be confined to Libya alone. It seems in Trump's AMERICA FIRST foreign policy, such break up of nations will become even more popular. The author does not at all contemplate a Clinton win.
Posted by b on March 29, 2016 at 10:17 AM | Permalink
Please stay STRICTLY on topic.
Posted by: b | Mar 29, 2016 10:22:25 AM | 1
Great article. Though it didn't take a long time security analyst/expert on the region to figure out much of this would occur once ZATO helped remove Gaddhafi.
What's next, another strongman where democracy has failed?
Posted by: farflungstar | Mar 29, 2016 10:24:47 AM | 2
Interesting, but I do not understand how the IS - if not destroyed by another western military adventure - would possibly be able to destroy the EU (which by the way is bound in a selfdestroying effort since some years by the way), as Galustian claims.
Posted by: Pnyx | Mar 29, 2016 11:36:14 AM | 3
Infiltration through the "refugee trail" across the Mediterranean. Following that north-Europe would close all borders to south-Europe. The political infighting in Europe would grow even bigger and the EU would eventually fall apart.
I can clearly see that happening unless we get some more realistic politicians than the current crop.
Posted by: b | Mar 29, 2016 12:11:46 PM | 4
Sorry b, but this is far right propaganda bullshit. The EU is not falling apart because of some handy terrorists, the problems are home made. The Paris / Brussels-cell's members nationalities are mainly french and belgian. The neolib evolution of the last decades drives the populations of the european countries to the right. Rightish nonsense is accepteble now even in so called left parties. This momentum brings back ugly nationalism which tears apart the very foundations of the european project. There is no IS needed for this. And - to return to the topic - there is no immaginable reason for another military intervention. Patroling the med and close down air routes to Libya is enough to stop the threat.
Posted by: Pnyx | Mar 29, 2016 12:40:15 PM | 5
Nice article but we have to accept that it has a pro eastern bias. The legitimacy of the elections that the writer more or less accepts, is highly contested. And even that is an understatement. 1.4million voters on the first elections, 600k on the second are not exactly a guide to legitimacy, even by our really lean western standards
Posted by: Waste | Mar 29, 2016 12:56:43 PM | 6
there is no immaginable reason for another military intervention
which means what?
the situation sounds pretty optimal for propagating the isis threat, to me. western intelligence has been on the ground for months, ratlines to ports and desert airstrips are humming, the media is sufficiently muted, that argus-eyed behemoth tooling around in the sky is watching it all..
Posted by: john | Mar 29, 2016 1:06:25 PM | 7
the usa/wests agenda of getting rid of gadaffi and the result of destroying libya on so many levels is depressing.. i find it impossible to take anything from the whole lot of western leaders seriously...
regarding ISIS. sorry b - i read this article, but i want to know when the west are going to go after the fucked up religious cult that condones suicide terrorists emanating from saudi arabia and being embedded in the madrasas and mosques around the world? going after ISIS without going after this sick ideology that is suicide bombers and murderers is an endless battle until this is addressed..
Posted by: james | Mar 29, 2016 1:26:22 PM | 8
Glad pynx called out b on his bs. Europe's divisions is long standing and its issues are far larger than the tiny threat of islamic extremists/ terrorists. Islamic extremists is the pretext to cover up all other crimes/class warfare and other problems, and to also establish greater authoritarianism across Europe. As well as the power games between states.
As is the trigger is the cause.
Posted by: tom | Mar 29, 2016 3:19:10 PM | 10
Sorry b, but this is far right propaganda bullshit.
Posted by: Pnyx | Mar 29, 2016 12:40:15 PM | 5
You read my mind!
It's a sales pitch for Western Intervention of the redux variety. Let's not forget that The West didn't care at all about Libya, or Libyans, when ZATO decided to bomb the entire (prosperous, well-governed) country back to the Stone Age. And now they care? As the Lady in Pygmalion said "Not bloody likely!"
I've got a huge problem with this piece of fanciful glib-erish:
On March 14 Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said any western military intervention in Libya must have UN Security Council approval. Legally speaking the move is unnecessary as UNSC Resolution 1970 from 2011 remains in force.
That cannot possibly be true. The Resolution was flouted and that fact alone makes it redundant via the simple test of how loosely, and blithely, it was able to be mis-interpreted by the flouters.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 29, 2016 3:19:44 PM | 11
Posted by: tom | Mar 29, 2016 3:19:10 PM | 10
Oops! How come you're Shooting The Messenger?
(It's Galustian's bullshite, not b's)
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 29, 2016 4:26:22 PM | 12
I just want to say that HoR is an appropriate acronym for any House of Reprehensibles, but is especially clever in Libya where this "representative body" was assembled by NATO (read CIA).
Posted by: fast freddy | Mar 29, 2016 5:50:26 PM | 13
It's UNSC resolution 1973 and not UNSC resolution 1970 that was used as justification for military intervention in Libya. and it would be a real stretch to use UNSCR1973 to justify further military action, but Hillary Clinton might disagree.
Posted by: blowback | Mar 29, 2016 5:59:55 PM | 14
I predict a Libyan passport will be found post-gunfight, reasonably close to the crime scene, in an as yet undesignated European capital. (Possibly Brussels again, for the symbolism of it all.)
That ought to get some NATO skin back in the Libyan theatre.
Reckless usage of austerity measures at exactly the wrong time are to be the true culprit of European disintegration. Governments are meant to be loosen the fiscal shackles in times of economic hardship. And therein, lay the reason why the EU was always destined to fail - it was poorly conceived - eurozone economies do not have enough control of their destiny at a time when they must. Goldman Sachs hedging bets against you failing as a sovereign entity doesn't help either.
Posted by: MadMax2 | Mar 29, 2016 6:13:53 PM | 15
EU was a trap. Countries involved should break away before further damage can be done. That City of London, one of the instigators, declined to join should be fair warning that it is a trap. Greece is simply the first to "collapse".
Posted by: fast freddy | Mar 29, 2016 6:40:54 PM | 16
James at 8 has a valid point, that going after IS is useless, unless you get to the root of the problem, the radicals in SA, which serve the interests of U$A/NATO/Empire. The UN is a vehicle that also serves the same interests. Global hegemony is the goal. In chaos they trust.
Posted by: ben | Mar 29, 2016 6:50:51 PM | 17
See what the Russians say. The GNA seems so obviously a smash and grab on Libyan oil and that on its face seems enough to condemn the present plan to hell. The alternative to the invasion from Tunisia is direct intervention and takeover by US/EU/NATO? And then handover to whom? The GNA is all I see on the horizon. The author keeps touting the democratically elected HoRs, but the US/EU/NATO don't like them ... because backing them would mean that they and not the offshore GNA would control Libyan oil. Right? See what the Russians say. They've done honorably well in Syria, so far.
Posted by: jfl | Mar 29, 2016 6:56:07 PM | 18
The Kerry Kohn et al, talks in Russia likely pertain to divying up the spoils as it were. Not only Syrian current circumstances wrt Assad and Daesh (IS or whatever name change they wish to impose to confuse the masses), BUT all that sweet crude in Libya and the money in the vault. Thar's gold in them hills.
Posted by: fast freddy | Mar 29, 2016 7:35:22 PM | 19
It's UNSC resolution 1973 and not UNSC resolution 1970 that was used as justification for military intervention in Libya. and it would be a real stretch to use UNSCR1973 to justify further military action, but Hillary Clinton might disagree.
Posted by: blowback | Mar 29, 2016 5:59:55 PM | 14
Thanks for the heads up. You're right. I confused them. NOW that I've taken my own advice and looked them up, it would seem that they're both redundant and were both violated by the flouters. The subjects of USNC 1970, Gaddafi and arms embargo, are no longer relevant. The point I thought I was making, but didn't, was that Russia seems to desire new resolutions for the new situation = no sly recycling of loosely framed resolutions based on hysteria and lies.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 29, 2016 11:39:58 PM | 20
Ok. I read all of the above. It seems to me that the article b posted has some relevance to the situation. And, for what it is worth, b's request that we stay on topic only caused the various factions who come to this site to take swipes at b , then defend him, try to bring in the Russians as some sort of evil empire, then accuse each other of all sorts of venal acts/thoughts. The bottom line is that Libya is another failed state ... brought on by the current administration via one of the current batch of alleged presidential timber. (God help the fool that tries to build anything of such rotten timber.)
John Pilger, in Counterpunch, wrote an article ("Trump and Clinton: Censoring the Unpalatable")
that speaks to the censorship of the liberal (ie pro-Clinton oligarchy) that speaks volumes about our sources of information and their biases. To turn 'Moon of Alabama' as a battlefield for various points of view would be a crime. We (and that includes me) need to stay on topic and not act as though we've taken the banner line so seriously that this site becomes little more than a bar room
Posted by: rg the lg | Mar 30, 2016 2:51:28 AM | 21
I have commented before and was criticized/supported for the assertion that Gaddafi was killed for trying to sell oil in other than US dollars. Libya is just another poker in the fire for the global plutocrats that control private finance. Just another poker in the fire like the Ukraine, Greece, Syria, Turkey, Russia, China, all of South America, etc.
We can fiddle around for another couple of centuries if we don't go extinct wondering how to effectively change our form of social organization for the better. Or we could eliminate private finance and all the oligarchs, plutocrats, and their suck ups by neutering inheritance.
Dial twiddling a solution in the ME is a fools errand without confronting the core components of our form of social organization that has us trying to kill each other like we are doing.
Listen to Disturbed doing Sound of Silence by Simon And Garfunkel a few times loud....it feels good to this 67 year old.
We need to KILL the Gawd of Mammon and its instantiation called private finance!!!
Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 30, 2016 3:25:36 AM | 22
psychohistorian | Mar 30, 2016 3:25:36 AM | 22
This 71 yo heartily agrees with your post. Cheers
Posted by: V. Arnold | Mar 30, 2016 3:42:39 AM | 23
For what its worth:
What is interesting is in the creation of large states, those with resources of both economic and population needed to sustain the viable national state, it is necessary to make a bloody finis to the competition for dominance within, to control, and direct subordinate interests. The modern era (~15th Century) saw the rise of the stable King, Aristocratic relationship beginning with the Spanish Reconquest of Iberian peninsula by the Castillian/Aragon (shared) crown, supported by more localised warlords which became the aristocracy of Spain. Those who might offer resistance were either exterminated, expelled or forced into compliance. In a nutshell this (with variations) has been the way of the world.
What those who would destroy the modern state fail to understand is once that political state has been disassembled to its roots, the same process will have to be played through to organically replace the vacuum created. It cannot be imposed from either the outside or from above by imposed power, to do or assume one can is the height of stupidity (and arrogant hubris). When the cultural and social institutions are destroyed as well, the problem of reconstructing a viable state is many magnitudes greater than what would be needed to rebuild the political state. The conservative mindset that has been the motivating force behind the destruction of modern states does not self correct - ever; that is the nature of that beast. The wind has been sown, prepare for the whirlwinds to come.
Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Mar 30, 2016 4:24:14 AM | 24
psychohistorian, not sure would have argued with that, Oil priced and sold for USD is a red line, that and the 1,000;s of Russian and Chinese workers on various projects, the massive project to extract (fossil) water from under the desert and send it to the coastal cities (not necessarily the best thing from a sustainability perspective). Soft housing loans for newlyweds (when you control your own central bank and back your own printed money with Gold and oil you can do things like that) and anyone wanting to farm was given one. Now all of these things may not be true but reporters like Webster Tarpley were saying this. What was done to Lybia is up there with .... (I was going to make some comparisons but it's a long long list)
Posted by: Nobody | Mar 30, 2016 9:04:23 AM | 25
FWIW. This piece by Richard Galustian is what I'd refer to as a 'Lay of the Land' document. Just about any big policy or campaign issue starts with such a detailed piece of work by someone who has made it his/her business to delve into the intricacies of a particular policy issue, study said issue who then takes all of that knowledge, with supporting material, and succinctly lays it out for his intended audience who is typically a wonk or a hack.
The doc serves as a starting point for more intense discussion by the principal players responsible or tasked with laying out strategy to achieve whatever goals/objectives are at hand.
Given the fact, at least for me, that Libya has fallen into a dark hole, having such a document helps me understand who the players are on the ground and what it is they are striving to achieve. This kind of detailed work is most appreciated.
And while staying on topic, might someone take a look at this piece by Phil Butler titled "The Hidden Purpose of ISIL: A New King of Libya" http://journal-neo.org/2016/03/23/the-hidden-purpose-of-isil-a-new-king-of-libya/ and suggest how it may fit into Galustian's work above.
Posted by: h | Mar 30, 2016 10:00:51 AM | 27
Head of UN-backed unity government arrives in Libyan capital
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The head of a U.N.-brokered Libyan unity government arrived in the capital by sea Wednesday with six deputies to set up a temporary seat of power in a naval base despite threats from competing factions.
Fayez Serraj sailed in from neighboring Tunisia aboard a Libyan vessel, according to the unity government's website, which denied reports that the officials had been brought in aboard an Italian ship.
The six deputies are members of the Presidential Council, which was established based on a U.N.-mediated deal signed by splintered groups from the two governments last year. The council formed the new unity government headed by Serraj.
But even with international support, Serraj faces a daunting array of challenges, and could struggle to impose his will on the Central Bank, the state-run oil company and other institutions.
He is also at risk of being attacked or besieged in his base by rival militias. He is being guarded by battle-hardened militias from the city of Misrata, which saw fierce fighting during the uprising five years ago.
No word in the AP piece of the two existing governments, one actually internationally recognized, that have denied any legitimacy to this third, UN imposed government.
Any bets on how long these clowns will survive?
Posted by: b | Mar 30, 2016 10:39:37 AM | 28
psychoh @ 22: "We need to KILL the Gawd of Mammon and its instantiation called private finance!!!"
True, how true. However, that begs the question...How does humanity achieve that end?
Libya joins a very long list of failed states, that, because they chose to challenge the global cabal status quo, had to be destroyed. Until the people of the present empire awaken, nothing can change. It must begin here, in the U$A, the epicenter of the evil empire. Not a small task.
Posted by: ben | Mar 30, 2016 10:51:51 AM | 29
Gee, I dunno b. Considering your background, if you say Galustian's perspective is useful to you, then no-one can argue with that. But it sounds (to me) like a very long-winded attempt to create confusion and induce feelings of helplessness in order to encourage his audience to put the whole effing mess in the "too hard" basket. It's worst flaw is that he attributes equal ranking to the veritable multitude of Tribes, Militia's and Interests. However, in real life, there are always a couple of major players and a noisy but useless Peanut Gallery of Wannabes, of indeterminate quantity and quality.
One potential solution would be for Russia to "retrieve" Saif Gaddafi and give him a voice (to talk about the Good Old Days). That would ease most of the confusion among Libyans and, at the very least, unite Libya sufficiently to make elections with a plausible turnout viable - and piss FRUKUS off Til The End of Time. The UN needs a good (de-Yankifying) shake-up too but that's probably a much bigger job than getting Libya Back to the Future.
Btw, I've skimmed Butler's piece and, despite the dramatic headline, he seems to think that Libyans should decide what's best for Libya.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 30, 2016 11:07:41 AM | 30
" It's worst flaw is that he attributes equal ranking to the veritable multitude of Tribes, Militia's and Interests."
Does he? I read the piece differently. What is important is to find and acknowledge possible spoilers of any settlement. All these groups mentioned in the piece are such. No need to "rank" them (with what criteria?) There are many more (smaller) groups not mentioned in it.
Also: If you think that the Islamists and their foreign supporters (Qatar, U.S., France, Turkey) would somehow get behind a naive like Saif Ghaddafi you are thoroughly mistaken.
What I find rather obscene is the fact that the UN lauded the election that created the Tobruk government but now shuns that government because some idiots had the idea to create a new unelected one.
There is zero consistency in that move and will damage the UN credibility for any further work in Libya.
Posted by: b | Mar 30, 2016 12:58:08 PM | 31
Posted by: b | Mar 30, 2016 12:58:08 PM | 31
"Does he? I read the piece differently.What is important is to find and acknowledge possible spoilers of any settlement. All these groups mentioned in the piece are such. No need to "rank" them (with what criteria?) There are many more (smaller) groups not mentioned in it."
1. I acknowledge your experience and expertise but am uncomfortable with the logic of that statement because Galustian does not come across as impartial.
2. (with what criteria?) Aspirations for Libya's future. But Galustian didn't mention that (native) demographic.
"Also: If you think that the Islamists and their foreign supporters (Qatar, U.S., France, Turkey) would somehow get behind a naive like Saif Ghaddafi you are thoroughly mistaken."
Keeping in mind that it's just a suggestion (the first and only)
1. No. I think/hope that it would make them go ballistic and insane(er). The only entities who have to like Saif are (pre-election) Libyans.
2. Without any research at all, I assume that what I've heard about Saif is wrong and part of the West's smear campaign - purely on the basis of a short clip of him protesting what was happening in 2011. He impressed me as intelligent, coherent and brave. But if he's as bad as you know him to be then my idea is a lousy one.
We are in furious agreement on the UN/obscenity angle.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 30, 2016 2:17:05 PM | 32
Thanks for the interesting link about the possible return of a 'legitimate' king (aka strongman*) to Libya. The AngloZionists have also been working on returning the Romanovs to Russia, presumably as 'king' (and acceptable strongman).
* - I use 'strongman' to indicate that the west would allow these people to do whatever (even 'killing their own people') as long as it furthered AngloZionist interests.
Posted by: Yonatan | Mar 30, 2016 2:52:40 PM | 33
The author misses a fourth option. The existing internationally recognized government could invite Russia in to sort the mess out. If I was leader of HoR, I would do it just for the lulz.
Posted by: Yonatan | Mar 30, 2016 2:55:57 PM | 34
Correction to a closing sentence in my #32.
But if he's as bad as you know him to be, and Libyans wouldn't embrace him, then my idea is a lousy one.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 30, 2016 3:17:07 PM | 35
I agree with all you say here. I know very little about the political factions in Libya and this article lays it all out. I think you're correct in noting that, thankfully, the author didn't attempt prognosis ... until the very end, when he seemed to call on the US/NATO 'anti-ISIS' bandwagon to go to work. And that afterthought on his part, coming at the end, overshadowed all his work up until that point. I'm going to go back and reread the whole thing again, and - now that I'm more familiar with the various factions - try this time to concentrate more on their interconnections, and on the personalities involved. I think the situation is very much driven by personalities, and that below their 'leadership' things are very fluid. As the author points out.
Not mentioned is that someone's trying to rally Libyans around Gadaffi's daughter. Do you know who that is? and what chances that has of failure/success?
Thanks very much for this very interesting and for me very enlightening document.
Posted by: jfl | Mar 30, 2016 4:00:30 PM | 36
...eradicate ISIS in Libya, which some Pentagon sources privately say is possible within as little as a two week period
don't you just love this shit? oh, the possibilities......
....15 years of GWOT, trillions of dollars flushed, incalculable amounts of death and destruction, entire nations shattered, populations in exodus.........
inside sources privately say that if cinderella had had a better sense of timing she would have made it home before her coach turned into a pumpkin.
Posted by: john | Mar 30, 2016 4:22:16 PM | 37
From Matthew Lee at UNSC ( poor chap, he can't perform his job as required sinc ehis eviction for telling the truth)
They could not arrive by plane, and so it was by ship -- some or many say, Italian warship, with an assist from France (which previously airdropped automatic weapons into the Nafus Mountains, like speechifying about the control of small arms). Here's what Kerry said:
"The United States welcomes the Libyan Presidency Council’s arrival in Tripoli on March 30. The Libyan people, supported by the United States and our partners in the international community, have worked toward this moment for nearly two years. The Government of National Accord can now begin the crucial work of addressing the full range of Libya’s political, security, economic, and humanitarian challenges.
Posted by: Yul | Mar 30, 2016 5:05:05 PM | 38
An outside govt of exiles is doomed to fail like it did in Iraq and Syria. The UN has no right to do this. It is irresponsible. Meanwhile the two militia supported govts are a bit divided within while other militias move about. As to making a country a basket case and not a threat to any other (or uniting regions/peoples), it has been Mission Accomplished by Hillary and her ilk. But I have to admit it looks like the outsiders (US/NATO) are looking for an excuse to destroy some more. And ISIS provides .....
Posted by: Curtis | Mar 30, 2016 7:44:32 PM | 39
Having reread the article, I still think along the lines @19 above. The people and countries behind this Libya Political Agreement (LPA) and Government of National Accord (GNA) are nothing more than criminal privateers, and the UN is their tool, their plaything. I absolutely agree with Curtis @39 that the UN is now just whorish rubber stamp on the US' decisions.
Thanks for giving us the article and exposing this skullduggery b.
Posted by: jfl | Mar 30, 2016 8:04:24 PM | 40
Which of the groups are related to the 'green resistance?' Should we assume the ex army groups are the best of the bunch, for a future unified state, or something at least a bit like the former Libya?
Posted by: Cresty | Mar 30, 2016 10:29:48 PM | 41
Now learned that it wasn't really the UN imposed government that "landed" in Tripoli but 6 members of the "Presidential Council" with whatever function. The landed at a Navy base and are protected by some mercenaries from Misurata. There were gunfights last night between these and Islamists in Tripoli.
But here is now what its all really about $67 billion:
Libya requests U.N. sanctions exemption for sovereign wealth fund
Libya is asking the U.N. Security Council to approve a sanctions exemption for its blacklisted sovereign wealth fund to halt billion-dollar losses caused by ineffective management of frozen assets, according to a letter released on Wednesday.
The letter from Libya's ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said the losses incurred at the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) are the result of U.N. sanctions imposed in 2011 to prevent the government of former leader Muammar Gaddafi from spiriting away the country's wealth.
"The LIA estimates that in 2014 alone, instead of increasing the value of its assets base, it had real losses of $721 million," Dabbashi said.
"Furthermore, it lost an additional $1.6 billion to $2.3 billion in what would have been returns on investment if its assets had been properly invested in conservative investments with competitive interest rates," he told the 15-nation council.
Dabbashi told Reuters that the LIA has roughly $67 billion in total assets.
The Reuters author (known dissembler Louis Charbonneau) does not say exactly WHICH Libyan government (or other government) told the Libyan UN ambassador to write that letter though he seems he imply the UN imposed one.
GoldmanSachs and other big money houses would love to control that fund ...
Posted by: b | Mar 31, 2016 3:11:36 AM | 42
From Richard Galustian's conclusion
The Government of National Accord (GNA) is built around the Libya Political Agreement (LPA). This calls for a prime minister, Fayez Seraj, a low profile Tripoli politician and businessman to rule as part of a 9 strong presidential council. None chosen by Libyans but by the UN!
There is further controversy because the heads of all three key state institutions the
- Central Bank of Libya (CBL),
- National Oil Corporation (NOC) and
- Libya Investment Authority (LIA)
were replaced by Tobruk in late 2014.
The chairmen of the 3 institutions above, run now by the Islamist General National Congress (GNC) - the parliament replaced by the elected House of Representatives (HoR), now in Tubruk - refused to stand down when the new elected government replaced them then, and are again refusing to stand down now when the US/EU/UN are trying their own smash and grab. That's all it is.
This is the problem of using US dollars as a store of wealth. The money is never really yours. It's all in reserve accounts with the fed in the US, and the criminal US government will just steal when it needs it : 'sanctions'. If you're lucky Trump will turn out his elephant pockets and 'negotiate' a deal ... loan you your own money back. The EU/UN rubber stamp the theft. The USA runs the UN, the EU goes along with the US ... they are the 'International Community'. Not at all unlike the Aristocratic family of comedic renown. All the world's nations need to get the memo : D-I-V-E-S-T yourselves of US dollars. Russia and China are doing so. Iran is, too. Libya and Iraq and Syria should follow the leaders. Everyone should. Leave the GCC and the Saudis holding the bag.
As soon as interest rates begin to rise in the wake of the rush to the door ... well, what's 5 or 6% of 18 trillion dollars? That's a trillion a year in interest. That realization ought to push interest on federal paper into double digits. US federal government junk bonds.
The US/EU/UN have been reduced to an ongoing Criminal Enterprise, desperately delaying the day of reckoning. That's the best they can do. They know they're going down.
Posted by: jfl | Mar 31, 2016 8:42:34 AM | 43
It is not only the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) the UN selected government wants to grab immediately but now also the central bank accounts.
Libya’s Unity Government Defies Air Blockade to Reach Tripoli
Diplomats and United Nations officials said they believed that a majority of the city’s militias supported the new administration, but acknowledged that alliances were constantly shifting. It is also unclear whether the third rival government, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, will yield to the unity government’s authority.
Money is likely to play a role in back-room negotiations. The unity government has been in talks with the Libyan Central Bank, which controls the country’s foreign reserves, estimated at about $85 billion.
It hopes that by controlling the country’s purse strings, it can persuade recalcitrant militia leaders in Tripoli to accept, or at least not attack, the unity government.
Expect there to be "no money left" a year from now. After that the IMF and the World Bank will "help" with further robbery.
Posted by: b | Mar 31, 2016 10:08:34 AM | 45
IMHO Russia needs to support the Gaddafis. They are the only entity that can reunite Libya.. That is why they will be fought against and persecuted by the West, who probably want a servile oil fiefdom
Posted by: aaaa | Mar 31, 2016 2:57:17 PM | 46
b & jfl,
Thanks for the "follow the money" update. Private finance again is the culprit led by those global plutocrat families.
People ask how we get to eliminating private finance and neutering inheritance globally. I believe you get there through education of the masses that reaches a tipping point.
The points to make
Government is not the problem except that it is currently owned by the global plutocrat families
Finance is a defined public utility and is currently owned privately (global plutocrat families again) and should be nationalized globally.
Inheritance needs to be neutered globally so none can accumulate enough to effect social policy.
All arguments that folks make about our problems need to identify those at the top of the heap that are controlling our lives as the source of our problems.
Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 31, 2016 10:22:19 PM | 47
People ask how we get to eliminating private finance and neutering inheritance globally. I believe you get there through education of the masses that reaches a tipping point.
Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 31, 2016 10:22:19 PM | 47
Education is a voluntary process and is usually more successful when sought than when imposed. So until someone identifies one, or two tangible, quantifiable advantages of public vs private finance, and invents a clever way to arouse curiosity in them, interest will remain low...
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 1, 2016 12:24:11 AM | 48
The tangible benefits are another part of the education needed. One of the current myths is that the private sector can do things better and cheaper than government in spite of the greed factor. Since the MSM is designed to sell the myths of private = good, government = bad, one has to become part of the shift away from said media and participate in alternative media, such as MoA.
Another myth that exists is that global finance is a healthy mix of sovereign and private. Nations rise and fall and they all need finance which has been controlled globally by private banks and intra nation structures for centuries. Read William Greider's "Secrets of the Temple" about the Fed as substantiation of my position that Western global finance is, for all intents and purposes, privately controlled. Extrapolate the Fed to The City of London and you see the private thread of finance through another empire rise and fall.
I will work on the clever idea to arouse curiosity angle, thanks.....grin
Posted by: psychohistorian | Apr 1, 2016 12:49:38 AM | 49
Thanks for the 4 point program. I think there is little disagreement between (all of) us. It's just a matter of slightly differing perspectives ...
The points to make (according to me)
- Government is not the problem, in fact it is the corporate organization over which we have the most control, if we can engage and seize control of it. 
- Government is currently under the control not of the people but of the financial sector, and the military industrial sector to a lessor extent. Essentially money power must be divorced from political power.
- All arguments that folks make about our problems need to identify the sorted, hierarchic order of our human heap, and money, economic power, is the imposer of that iniquitous order in our lives, the source of our problems.
- Finance needs to be defined as a public utility, but is currently 'privately owned', so must be put under peoples' control globally.
 I like to use the word seize because it fits, I don't mean violently, because that's fighting along a dimension that is the strong point of the minority in control, and so a loser for us, the majority. I mean along the organizational dimension : we are many and they are few. We can take control of our affairs by organizing and 'just doing it'. At least in the USA. It's a matter of the will to change, or lack of it, presently.
I see things more in need of a structural solution ... not so much an abstract solution, although the 'rule or law' is the foundation of change, but as in the living structure we need to create of ourselves : which structure will collectively define
just how we want things to work and to enact our solutions.
Posted by: jfl | Apr 1, 2016 1:17:16 AM | 50
GoldmanSachs and other big money houses would love to control that fund …
No Doubt. Goldman Sach and its ilk will probably have a place at the table as financial advisors. After all, GS developed the model for ripping off the LIA, as it did in 2006-09. First you mesmerize the financially illiterate LIA officials with GS’s financial genius. Mix in lavish parties with “heavy drinking and girls” and other corporate hospitality .Then throw in a few perks such as freebie trips to Morocco and London, a highly prized internship for an official’s relative, etc. And presto - $1.2 billion of LIA money disappears in the murky world of financial derivatives. So its just a matter of rinse and repeat. After all, why bother with the expense of actually providing tangible goods when you can just make the money …vanish.
Goldman Sachs Lost 98% of Libya's $1.3B Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment
note: The French financial giant, Societe Generale is also being sued by the Libyan Investment Authority for $1.5 billion..
Posted by: pantaraxia | Apr 1, 2016 3:21:26 AM | 51
EU sets sanctions, mulls security mission to back Libya unity government
The three men sanctioned are Nouri Abusahmain, president of Libya's General National Congress in Tripoli, Khalifa al-Ghwell, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Tripoli government, and Aguila Saleh, the president of Libya's internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk.
The meddling begins. The sheer gall of these EU bastards!
I don't want to see anyone killed, but these UN installed poseurs need to be out of the country.
Posted by: jfl | Apr 2, 2016 3:23:24 AM | 52
US, NATO preparing new air and ground attacks against Libya
The US and NATO are considering another round of military attacks against Libya, US President Barack Obama told media outside the White House on Monday.
Obama gave a convoluted statement to the effect that operations in Libya are in advanced stages of planning. “We are continuing to cooperate on an ongoing basis about operations potentially in areas like Libya where you have the beginnings of a government,” he said after meeting with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg at the White House.
“We can I think provide enormous help in helping to stabilize those countries,” Obama added. “This is obviously a tumultuous time in the world. Europe is a focal point of a lot of these stresses and strains in the global security system,” Obama said.
As yet there are still no “concrete military commitments” to support the NATO-backed governing alliance, according to the Post .
Nonetheless, there are clear signs that the US military is committed to deeper US ground involvement in Libya as part of stepped up US special operations throughout Africa. Libya is only one of a handful of African hotspots where the US is preparing “unique special operations solutions,” US Army General Tony Thomas told Congress in March. Following a hypothetical seizure of Tripoli, US commandos will link up with militant forces already active in the area, recruiting them as allies of the fledgling unity government, Thomas said.
Posted by: jfl | Apr 5, 2016 9:00:19 AM | 53
Libya unity government bolsters control despite setback
In a sign of its widening influence, the UN-sponsored administration of prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj took over the website of the unrecognised Tripoli authorities on Thursday.
The site now bears the logo of the unity government, and the names of [rump GNC, Libyab Dawn, NSG prime minister] Ghweil's cabinet have been replaced by those of a presidential council created [by the UN, independently of the Libyans, outside of Libya] under a power-sharing deal in December.
That agreement was inked by some lawmakers from both sides but not endorsed by the country's two rival governments.
[A] call by Tripoli's unrecognised prime minister Khalifa Ghweil on Wednesday for his ministers not to cede power, contradicting an earlier announcement, highlighted the still-chaotic situation.
The reason behind Ghweil's apparent U-turn was unclear but it hinted at divisions within the Tripoli authorities that were installed by a militia alliance that seized the capital in 2014.
A statement issued a day earlier in the name of his so-called National Salvation Government had said that it was ready to step aside.
A politician close to the unity government said money was a key factor because some of the militiamen who brought Ghweil to power are no longer being paid by his authorities [but are now being paid by the UN?].
Sarraj's cabinet has in recent days been broadening its support, winning the backing of the National Oil Corporation, the Central Bank and the Libyan Investment Authority.
His Government of National Accord on Wednesday ordered all government "ministries and institutions and committees" to respect its authority and use its logo.
It also instructed the Central Bank and the Audit Bureau to freeze all state accounts immediately, except for salary payments to government employees.
French President Francois Hollande said Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault spoke on Thursday with Sarraj to "reaffirm our support" to his government.
Hollande told reporters at a Franco-German cabinet meeting in Metz, eastern France, that Sarraj had asked for the EU's help in efforts to combat human trafficking from Libya.
UN envoy Martin Kobler, who visited Libya this week, was due to brief the UN Security Council Thursday on his efforts to bring about a peaceful power handover.
Kobler has welcomed the Tripoli authority's willingness to hand over but cautioned that "deeds must follow words".
The AFP pushes the French line just as the BBC pushes the British. Looks as though the GNA, the UN's government in Tripoli, is spreading around the dough, trying to buy up the GNC, the former, unelected government in Tripoli, with less than complete success.
I'd guess the 'Sarraj's cabinet has in recent days been broadening its support, winning the backing of ...', means 'has not yet won'.
That 'deeds must follow words'.
The elected government in Tubruk is not mentioned.
I imagine that 'the EU's help in efforts to combat human trafficking from Libya' will entail more of the US'/EU's patented DD&D - death, devastation, and destruction for ordinary Libyans. More refugees for Europe. More terror for everyone on earth.
Posted by: jfl | Apr 7, 2016 9:01:39 PM | 54
Western powers press ahead with plans for new war in Libya
On the night following as-Sarraj's arrival, at least one man was killed. Militias supporting the counter-government stormed the Qatar-financed broadcaster Nabaa, closing it down. Schools and public facilities remained closed.
Like the US in Kabul in 2001 or Bagdad in 2003, Italy and the European Union now confront the problem of needing a militarily-secured "Green Zone" for their puppet regime in Tripoli. But to do this they only have recourse to a few forces in Libya. As the Intercept has exposed, a private mercenary outfit headed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince has already offered its services.
A Libyan military unit from Misrata has declared its support for the new government. Its fighters are in the pay of the Italian government and are protecting oil extraction facilities owned by the Italian oil company ENI in western Libya. Italy has never shut down its oil and gas extraction in Libya.
The Western powers are not choosy in their alleged fight against Islamic State, relying on other extremist Islamic forces. The criteria are not "Western values," as is typically claimed, but exclusively the willingness to collaborate with the imperialists. The militias are paid using the remains of Libya's state finances, which have sat in frozen bank accounts in Europe since the overthrow of Gaddafi.
Significantly, the list of 32 ministers in as-Sarraj's new government contains four people who are regarded as Islamic fundamentalists since they belong either to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). The founder of the LIFG, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, is a former al-Qaida fighter and confidante of Osama bin Laden. As the blogger Angelika Gutschke revealed in the newspaper Freitag, the UN negotiator Martin Kobler met with Belhadj in Turkey to discuss the formation of a new government.
Upon his arrival in Libya, the US, the European Union, Italy, Germany, France and the UK congratulated as-Sarraj and immediately recognised his government as the "only legitimate representative of Libya". German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressly welcomed the "unity government". On the fringes of a meeting in Uzbekistan, he called for "all political forces in the country" to support the new government in Tripoli.
The EU has imposed sanctions against Libyan politicians like al-Ghweil for fighting against as-Sarraj, also imposing a travel ban to the EU and freezing his European bank accounts.
Following as-Sarraj’s imposition, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayraul spoke expressly in favour of an intervention: "We must be prepared to react if the unity government of Fayiz as-Sarraj asks for help, if necessary on the military front."
The Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni demanded all those holding power in Libya to quickly recognise the new government, otherwise threatening that the "international community" would intervene with military strikes all the more rapidly. The Italian Parliamentary Speaker Laura Boldrini, a party colleague of Left Ecology Freedom’s Nichi Vendola, also did not oppose air strikes, but merely tied them to the demand that "there must be a unity government, which asks for an intervention."
Such an intervention has been in the works for more than a year. In mid-March, Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti confirmed that plans for an intervention have existed for over a year. Italy would head a UN mission with up to 6,000 soldiers, which would be supported by air strikes from airbases at Trapani and Sigonella in Sicily.
Dozens of Italian Special Forces, from the military and intelligence agencies, have been active in Libya for weeks, working alongside military "specialists" from Britain, France and the US. A February 10 decision of the Italian government places the Italian forces in Libya under the direct control of the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
When as-Sarraj landed in Tripoli, Renzi was attending the summit on nuclear safety in Washington. Above all, President Barrack Obama spoke there in favour of an intervention, since the installation of as-Sarraj could at best "strengthen the structure” of the Libyan state.
The Italian elites are pushing to play a leading role in any military mission. Under the headline "Libya: Preparing for intervention," the right-wing newspaper Centro-Destra wrote that military control of the Mediterranean was of crucial importance, saying this time Italy must play a leading role. It was a priority to avoid "Italian interests being ignored in Libya. ... In other words: If Italy had only a minor role and not the role of the protagonist, then everything would be in vain. That would be the farce of the 2011 tragedy."
In the daily Corriere della Sera, the US Ambassador in Rome, John Phillips, demanded the deployment of up to 5,000 Italian soldiers. He said, "Libya is a top priority for Italy, and is also very relevant for us. It is important that Italy takes the lead of an international action."
Five years ago, the pretext was that civilians in Benghazi had to be saved from an impending massacre by Gaddafi's army. As a result, approximately 30,000 fell victim to the NATO military operation. Gaddafi was murdered in a lynch mob, Libya's civilization, economy and infrastructure were destroyed, approximately two million Libyans were forced into exile and hundreds of thousands became displaced persons inside their own country.
In the 2011 war, NATO unleashed Islamist fighters as proxies and ground forces, and supplied them with weapons, partly through Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They thus laid the foundation for today's rival militias, and also for the development and advance of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya itself.
The Islamic fundamentalists were first armed and supported against Gaddafi. Later, with vast quantities of arms from Gaddafi's arsenals, they were deployed to Syria where they fought against Assad. Since 2015, ISIS fighters have begun returning to Libya, where they now serve the Western powers as the pretext for a new intervention.
Every city that put up resistance to the Islamists was bombed to the ground by NATO fighter jets. For example, Sirte, the birthplace of Gaddafi, which put up the longest resistance to the NATO war, was so badly damaged that ISIS was able easily capture it last year.
Used to be just Germany and Italy in the Axis, now the French have joined, too - this time après-Pétain, après-Le Pen.
The Europeans are just a dreary, as greedy, as ruthless as the Americans. They're all on the same side ... this time? ... or again.
Posted by: jfl | Apr 9, 2016 7:09:08 AM | 55
jfl | Apr 9, 2016 7:09:08 AM | 55
But, but, isn't that precisely our heritage as emigres from the European continent (mostly)?
Why would our behaviors change? Same old, same old...
And it's all playing out exactly as expected; move along folks, nothing to see here...
Posted by: V. Arnold | Apr 9, 2016 7:21:30 AM | 56