01 April 2014

The predictable "blowback" is underway in post- Qaddafi Libya. The events in February underscore the chaos wrought by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) illegal coup in the former Italian colony of Libya.



The first week in February, the New York Times ran the headline "Qaddafi’s Weapons Taken by Old Allies, Reinvigorate an Insurgent Army in Mali." Mali’s foreign minister told the Times that "The stability of the entire region could be under threat." The dormant Mali rebel movement, the Tuaregs insurgents are assaulting towns in the northern Mali desert. The Tuarges is in possession of anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft guns, mortars, and other weapons that were part of the former Qaddifi military arsenal.



This should come as no surprise since ABC News reported last October 13 that former Qaddifi regime handheld missiles were popping up at Egyptian bazaars and the price for heat-seeking shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles had dropped from $10,000 to $4,000.



A follow up report by ABC News noted that out of the 20,000 portable shoulder-launch surface to air missiles, 15,000 remain unaccounted for.



Peter Bouckaert, Emergencies Director for Human Rights Watch, supplied ABC News with videos of Libyans looting both SA-24 and SA-7 Stinger-style shoulder-fired Russian-made missiles. The Obama administration announced a program to try and re-secure the remaining 15,000 missiles that included 20 U.S. weapons inspectors.



In late January in Cairo, Amnesty International documented widespread abuses under the U.S.-backed interim Libyan government. Doctors Without Borders, that has been providing emergency medical care in Libya, announced on January 26 that it would suspend operations in Misurata, Libya detention centers as a result of having treated 115 detainees for torture, many of them "…had been returned repeatedly with more wounds," according to the New York Times.



A 45-page report by Amesty International issued on February 15 reported several Libyans tortured to death and scores who reported being "suspended in contorted positions; beaten for hours with whips, cables, plastic hoses, metal chains and bars, and wooden sticks; and even electric shock with live wires and taser-like electro-shock weapons."



Amnesty International has reported on what appears to be the illegal detention of foreign nationals in Libya at Ain Zara Prison. They estimate that 400 of the 900 detainees are foreign nationals from sub-Sahara Africa. Reports document that these darker-skinned Africans are being singled out for torture by the lighter-skinned Arab-speaking Libyans.



Despite western reports that the people of Libya hated Qaddafi, the Libya leader had opened up his arsenal to his people in an attempt to defend the country from eastern-based rebels in Benghazi, backed by the United States, NATO, and forces from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.



U.S. and NATO military action in Libya has resulted in the further fracturing of an essentially non-cohesive nation-state.



In Mid-February, Human Rights Watch issued a report estimating 250 separate militias in the coastal city of Misurata and an equal number in Tripoli. Massive ethnic and tribal cleansing was widely reported in the New York Times under the title "Libya struggles to curb militias as chaos grows."



The Associated Press reported on February 13 that 100 militias from western Libya "had formed a new federation" and are now posing a challenge to Libya’s U.S.-backed transitional government. Colonel Mokhtar Fernana told the AP that the new federation is opposed to integrating fighters formerly loyal to Colonel Qaddafi.



To understand this NATO-caused chaos in Libya, one needs to understand the history of the country. Prior to 1912, the nation of Libya was under the control of the Ottoman Empire and constituted three separate provinces that were more ethnically and tribally cohesive.



Between 1912 and 1927, Italy claimed Libya as a colony acquired as a spoil of the Italo-Turkish war (1911-1912). Italy renamed the territory Italian North Africa. In 1927, they split the colony in two and later in 1934 renamed the colony Libya, and like the Ottomans before them, split it into three provinces.



During World War II and its aftermath, Britain took control of Libya from 1943-1951. In 1951 Libya became an independent nation under the rule of King Idris. He was the grandson of the founder of the Senussi Muslim Sufi order. Under Idris, Libya remained divided in to three governorates.



Qaddafi seized power from King Idris in a 1969 coup. He dominated the country’s politics for more than 40 years. With Qaddafi in control, Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa and was similar to oil-rich countries in the Middle East in terms of wealth.



Prior to the U.S.-NATO assault on Libya, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) certified that Libya was debt free and had an estimated 144 tons of gold under the control of its state-owned central bank. When rebellion broke out in Benghazi, an area historically loyal to King Idris, U.S. and NATO forces intervened to protect "Arab civilians."



At the time of the intervention, Qaddafi was estimated to having killed 1000 civilians in revolt. Last week, it was estimated that at least 8000 civilians were massacred in Syria by its authoritarian government. The original mission was to prevent Qaddafi from using his air force to bomb and assault Benghazi and other rebel enclaves.



NATO forces from France and Germany joined by elite military forces from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates decided to escalate the mission. The new goal was to remove Qaddafi, and predictably, shatter and drive Libya into ethnic and tribal chaos.



Perhaps "blowback" is the wrong term here. That implies unintended consequences. A better thesis is provided by former high-ranking CIA official John Stockwell, who in his book In Search of Enemies offers the perspective that the U.S. military industrial complex and its cohorts in the security industrial complex intentionally keep the Third World in chaos and turmoil to justify their unprecedented budgets. Amidst this chaos, it is much easier for the former colonialists of NATO to extract 144 tons of gold and vast oil and gas reserves from the once defiant nation of Libya