Libya 2011 – 2015

Written by  //  August 30, 2015  //  Geopolitics, Libya  //  2 Comments

The Guardian: Libya
NYT: Libya

Clashes shatter illusion of security in Libyan capital
Armed groups excluded from Tripoli and access to the spoils of Libya’s informal economy have violently risen up.
(Al Jazeera) A bout of fighting in Libya’s capital has laid bare the fragility of an armed cartel that had brought a veneer of stability to the city and encouraged the gradual return of foreign diplomats and plans for elections in December.
Major battles have become rarer in Tripoli since last year as a handful of armed factions aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) consolidated their control.
But the ascent of four or five “super militias” has created resentment among groups excluded from the capital and from access to the spoils of Libya’s informal economy.
7 August
Thomas Friedman: .. the reckless 2011 French-British-U.S. decision to topple Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and not stay on to help build a new order in his place, now haunts Italy.
Toppling Qaddafi without building a new order may go down as the single dumbest action the NATO alliance ever took.
It took the lid off Africa, leading to some 600,000 asylum seekers and illegal migrants flocking to Italy’s shores in recent years, with 300,000 staying there and the rest filtering into other E.U. countries. This has created wrangles within the bloc over who should absorb how many migrants and has spawned nationalist-populist backlashes in almost every E.U. country.
29 May
Libyan Factions Agree to Elections Despite Deep Divisions
(NYT) The leaders of rival Libyan factions agreed Tuesday to work together on a legal framework for holding presidential and parliamentary elections this December in a deal being pushed by France’s president to bring stability to Libya and stem the flow of migrants to Europe from its shores.
It was latest of numerous international efforts to find a political solution to the chaos plaguing Libya since the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. But analysts said the election timetable was extremely optimistic and that the agreement, as with previous efforts, risked being undermined by opposition from armed groups on the ground.


Human Rights Watch World Report: Libya Events of 2017
Political divisions and armed strife continued to plague Libya as two governments vied for legitimacy and control of the country, and United Nations’ efforts to unify the feuding parties flagged. The UN backs the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, in the west, but not the rival Interim Government based in the eastern cities of al-Bayda and Benghazi.
Clashes between militias and forces loyal to these governments decimated the economy and public services, including the public health system, law enforcement, and the judiciary, and caused the internal displacement of over 200,000 people.
Armed groups throughout the country, some of them affiliated with one or the other of the competing governments, executed persons extrajudicially, attacked civilians and civilian properties, abducted and disappeared people, and imposed sieges on civilians in the eastern cities of Derna and Benghazi.
The extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) lost control of its Libya “capital” Sirte in December 2016. In January 2017, remaining ISIS forces in Benghazi fled the city. ISIS-affiliated fighters remained present in areas south of Sirte and Bani Walid.
The GNA struggled to gain authority and control over territory and institutions. Between February and May, militias aligned with it overran positions in Tripoli held by militias that supported a third authority, the Government of National Salvation (GNS).
In the east, Libyan National Army forces (LNA), under the command of General Khalifa Hiftar and allied with the Interim Government, continued to expand control over territory in the east and south. Libya’s legislative body, the House of Representatives, remained allied with the LNA and Interim Government, and failed to approve a slate of ministers for the GNA.


The Gun Smuggler’s Lament
(Foreign Policy) In 2011, Osama Kubbar ran Qatari-supplied arms to Libyan rebels battling the Qaddafi regime. Today, he is watching from afar as his country is torn apart by two warring governments and a web of rival militias. This is the story of a failed revolution and the people it engulfed. (October 2015)


27 October
Libya now has two state news agencies as disorder deepens
(Reuters) – Libya’s internationally recognised government said on Monday it would launch a new state news agency to replace the one seized by armed factions that have set up a parallel government.
Three years after rebels overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, the major oil-producing state is slipping towards anarchy. It has had two governments and parliaments since former insurgents from the western city of Misrata took over the capital Tripoli in August, naming their own prime minister and forcing the formally constituted government to move 1,000 km (65 miles) to the east.
The new Tripoli rulers have appropriated several ministries and state television, cementing their grip even though the United Nations and Western powers recognise only Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s administration, now based in Bayda.
1 September
Chaos in Libya: Tripoli is now under militia control
(Global Post) Libya’s toothless outgoing government admitted Monday from its safe refuge in the east of the country that it has in effect lost control of Tripoli to armed militias.
The interim government led by prime minister Abdullah al-Thani, which resigned last week, said armed groups, mostly Islamist militias, were in control of ministries and blocking access to government workers. A 29-step guide to understanding Libya’s descent into total chaos
29 August
Libya’s interim government resigns
(Al Arabiya) Libya’s toothless interim government, led by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, announced late Thursday it had tendered its resignation to the elected parliament, days after a rival Islamist administration was created.
The interim government, operating in the east of the country to avoid the Islamist militias which have a strong presence in Tripoli, said it “presented its resignation to the elected parliament,” which is based in Tobruk, about 1,000 kilometers from the capital, also for security reasons.
Our friend Nick Rost van Tonningen provides an excellent summary of events that have been overshadowed by ISIS, Syria, Isarel …
(Nick’s Gleanings #577) With all the media focus having been on events further East in the Arab world, it has all but ignored Libya’s descent into failed state anarchy. In the Gadaffi era it produced 1.4MM bbld of oil. During the fight to unseat him several private armies were formed that, once he was gone, defied Libyan Army attempts to disarm them. The parliament elected in 2012 was dominated by Islamists with links to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood & al-Qaeda and, before its term in office ended late last year introduced sharia law & unilaterally voted to extend its mandate by one year. But in February the head of the army, Gen, Khalifa Haftar2 forcibly removed it from office & in the subsequent election in July the Islamists were routed. Meanwhile, in mid-May, Gen. Haftar had launched an offensive against the Islamists in Eastern Libya that resulted in counterattacks that after 41 days of fighting culminated in them capturing the Tripoli International Airport in Western Libya on August 23rd. Two days later, on August 25th, the members of the former Islamist-dominated parliament met and voted to ignore the election outcome & replace those elected in it. Amidst all this Libya’s oil output slid to as little as 120,000 bbld in May, although it has since recovered to 600,000 bbld & at last report it was claimed that it would be raised further, to 1MM bbld, later this year (while, regardless of who runs it, the government supposedly needs 1.6MM bbld & a US$100 oil price to balance its budget) – unless Gen. Hafter can get the situation under control, it would not be surprising if at some point Egypt’s ruler, the one-time Defense Minister, General/self-appointed Field Marshall & now, President Sissi, with ‘nod-nod, wink-wink’ support from Washington may enter the fray in the belief that, with Libya’s population only being 6MM & Egypt having a standing-, albeit largely conscript, army of half a million, along with twice that many reservists, this would be a ‘walk in the park’.
18 May
Gunmen storm Libyan parliament amid anti-government uprising
Militia allied to renegade general Khalifa Hiftar hit the building with anti-aircraft guns and rockets, causing MPs to flee
(The Guardian) Gunmen first stormed then suspended Libya’s parliament on Sunday in an anti-government rebellion that is spreading across the country.
Members of a militia allied to the renegade general, Khalifa Hiftar, hit the building with anti-aircraft guns and rockets, causing MPs to flee in panic as parts of the complex caught fire.
They then suspended parliament and said it would operate on an emergency basis.
A commander in the military police in Libya read a statement announcing the suspension on behalf of a group led by Hiftar, a one-time rebel commander who said the US backed his efforts to topple Muammar Gaddafi in the 1990s.
24 March
Libya is a disaster we helped create. The west must take responsibility
Who could object to the removal of Colonel Gaddafi? But what has happened since shames western interventionists
Today’s Libya is overrun by militias and faces a deteriorating human rights situation, mounting chaos that is infecting other countries, growing internal splits, and even the threat of civil war. Only occasionally does this growing crisis creep into the headlines: like when an oil tanker is seized by rebellious militia; or when a British oil worker is shot dead while having a picnic; or when the country’s prime minister is kidnapped.
According to Amnesty International, the “mounting curbs on freedom of expression are threatening the rights Libyans sought to gain“. A repressive Gaddafi-era law has been amended to criminalise any insults to officials or the general national congress (the interim parliament). One journalist, Amara al-Khattabi, was put on trial for alleging corruption among judges. Satellite television stations deemed critical of the authorities have been banned, one station has been attacked with rocket-propelled grenades, and journalists have been assassinated.
One of the great perversities of the so-called war on terror is that fundamentalist Islamist forces have flourished as a direct consequence of it. Libya is no exception, even though such movements often have little popular support. The Muslim Brotherhood and other elements are better organised than many of their rivals, helping to remove the prime minister, push through legislation, and establish alliances with opportunistic militias.


Libya bans ex-Gaddafi officials from office
New “political isolation” law, passed under duress, could unseat the prime minister and other top officials.
(Al Jazeera) Politicians debated the draft law for months, but the issue came to a head this week when heavily armed groups took control of two ministries and stormed other institutions including the state broadcaster.
The decision to hold the vote under duress could embolden the armed groups to use force again to assert their will over parliament.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, a diplomat under Gaddafi who defected to the exiled opposition in 1980, could be among those barred from office, although this remained unclear and a parliament spokesman said it would be decided by a committee charged with implementing the law.
19 April
Canadian woman held in Moammar Gadhafi smuggling plot released from Mexican jail
Canadian Cynthia Vanier woman, held in Mexico for allegedly plotting to smuggle the son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi into the country, has been released from prison, her father said.
(Toronto Star) Vanier maintained her innocence throughout, saying her only connection to Libya was through Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, which had projects in the Middle Eastern country.
The release apparently followed a decision from a tribunal of the Supreme Court of Mexico that upheld her appeal against her arrest and detention.
8 April

The Fifth Estate: Mission Improbable

Cynthia Vanier had seemingly hit the big time in business, politics and international intrigue, working with Canada’s largest engineering firm, SNC Lavalin, to protect billions of dollars worth of projects in Libya. That work led her to cross paths with one of the world’s most notorious family names — Gadhafi. But as events unfolded, she became a part of a fiasco so complex that she’ll likely never fully understand it, nor recover from its impact on her life. On this week’s the fifth estate, Linden MacIntyre tells the story of Cynthia Vanier and how she claims she was duped into a risky mission in Libya, and is now spending her days in a shabby prison in southern Mexico fighting allegations of terrorism, human trafficking and criminal conspiracy.
How Vanier got from a small town in Ontario to Libya and then to a prison cell in Mexico is a twisted tale full of intrigue. With a huge financial stake in Libya and in the Gadhafi family, SNC Lavalin brass watched anxiously as NATO bombers tried to end the reign of Moammar Gadhafi. Enter Cynthia Vanier–hired to work on a low-key PR campaign. Vanier, at that time, was a mediator who was out of her league in a country in the midst of fighting a civil war. In Mission Improbable, Linden MacIntyre reveals how SNC Lavalin played both sides and some say used Cynthia Vanier as a pawn.


4 January
In Libya not all the new brooms have been labelled, but the sweeping has started and will continue for many months – if not years. There have been some thoughtful analyses and recommendations (e.g. Libyan Nation Building After Qaddafi) regarding the priorities for the NTC and the role and responsibilities of the western powers in effecting the necessary changes. Let us hope “they” will all listen.


7 December
Plot to smuggle Muammar Gaddafi’s son into Mexico ‘foiled’
Authorities say plan to bring Saadi Gaddafi and family into country involved Canadian, Danish and Mexican suspects
Mexico said it has broken up an international plot to smuggle a son of Muammar Gaddafi and his family into the country under false names and with false Mexican documents.
The elaborate plan to bring Saadi Gaddafi to Mexico allegedly involved two Mexicans, a Canadian and a Danish suspect, the interior secretary, Alejandro Poiré, said.
The plot was uncovered in early September as Saadi was fleeing Libya shortly after his father’s ouster. He never made it to Mexico, but did reach the west African country of Niger, where he has been living.
19 November
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi captured in Libyan desert as he tries to flee country
International Criminal Court calls on the country’s transitional authority to hand over the late dictator’s high profile son

Libya after Gaddafi – Friday 21 October
• Confusion over exactly how Gaddafi died
• Burial of dictator delayed; hundreds queue to view body
• Libyan PM to announce liberation of country tomorrow
• Nato meeting to wind down military campaign
• Saif al-Islam still missing; was Mutassim executed?
Gaddafi’s death: rumoured, announced and confirmed in a single image
Mobile phone cameras and social media have made it impossible for governments to control news of political deaths

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi obituary

(The Guardian) Narcissistic leader of Libya since 1969 who backed terrorism round the world and became US public enemy number one
22 August
Senator John McCain on Libya
The Situation Room Interview with Wolf Blitzer
MCCAIN:I think we should be worried about a lot of things, but the fact is, Wolf, that you saw the rapid collapse of the Gadhafi forces. The only thing that was holding him in power was money and fear; and once those are dissipated by military strength, then it’s very difficult for anyone to be loyal to Gadhafi, unless they are a blood relative.
So I — I worry about that. I worry about the different tribes. I worry about the piece that you just had on weapons of mass destruction. I worry about the prisons. I hope we can secure them soon, because there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of political prisoners. I hope that we won’t see a repeat of what happened in Baghdad: looting of public buildings. I think that there’s a number of other — especially, and I appreciate the National Transition Council’s message on reconciliation and national unity. There’s a lot of bad blood there, and let’s hope that the people will restrain themselves and recognize that a bloodbath is not in anyone’s interest.
BLITZER: You and Senator Lindsey Graham issued a statement last night, saying it could have happened much more quickly, but the president today, as you just heard say — the president said, “You know what? In six months they’ve eliminated a 42-year reign of terror.” How much credit does he deserve for this strategy that he put together?
MCCAIN: Well, I think the president deserves credit for stopping Gadhafi when he was at the gates of Benghazi and had vowed to go house to house to kill anyone when opposed him.
But the fact is, if we had used the full weight of American air power, it would have been gone — over a long time ago, and the fact is that young Libyans were wounded and were killed because of that, quote, “leading from behind.”
10 June
Realpolitik should not trump justice
(The Independent) The international community is giving out dangerously mixed signals on Libya. On the one hand the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is investigating accusations that Muammar Gaddafi has ordered the rape of hundreds of women in rebel areas. There are even shocking claims that he ordered container-loads of Viagra to assist his troops in making rape a weapon of war. On the other hand there is talk from senior officials of a “political process” to end the conflict which would mean not just a ceasefire but some kind of deal for Gaddafi and his family. There has even been speculation about where he should go.
A negotiated deal must be the inevitable outcome. But it should be with those in the Libyan leader’s inner circle who have not been implicated in such crimes against humanity.
9 June
Maghreb Uprisings – Truth is ‘Impossible to Find
(AllAfrica) With all the analysis and news on Libya, we still do not know very much about who the rebels are and where their support comes from. This week I try to shed some light on anti-Gaddafi supporters as presented by Libyan bloggers and Tweeters as well as the highlight the humanitarian crisis which has developed as a result of the intervention. Twitter accounts by far outnumber blogs and many of these consist of photo and video dairies.
31 May
Zuma: Qaddafi will not step down
(Foreign Policy) After a meeting with Muammar al-Qaddafi, South African President Jacob Zuma said the Libyan leader is not willing to leave power, but is willing to negotiate a political solution to the conflict. A similar offer was rejected by Libya’s rebels last month following an another attempted intervention by Zuma and other African leaders. Coalition planes resumed airstrikes a few hours after Zuma’s departure.
30 May
Libya: Senior officers defect from Gaddafi army

(BBC) Eight senior officers who defected from Col Muammar Gaddafi’s army have appealed to fellow soldiers to join them in backing the rebels.
One of the eight accused pro-Gaddafi forces of “genocide”.
The men – who are said to include five generals – appeared at a news conference in Rome.
29 May
In Libya, infamous lawyers Roland Dumas, Jacques Verges offer to defend Gaddafi
(WaPost) If Moammar Gaddafi ever needs a legal defense team at The Hague, he may already have his men.
Former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, whose career was plagued by scandal and who served as an attorney for Saddam Hussein, turned up in Tripoli on Sunday alongside Jacques Verges, a man nicknamed “the Devil’s Advocate” for defending some of the world’s most notorious figures, including Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal.
26 May
Exclusive: Battered Libya sues for peace
(The Independent) As President Obama vows ‘We will not relent until the shadow of tyranny is lifted’, Gaddafi’s Prime Minister offers Nato a ceasefire, amnesty for rebels, reconciliation, constitutional government – and an exit strategy
22 May
Patrick Cockburn: How Nato’s blunders have prolonged Libya’s suffering
World View: Air strikes will defeat Gaddafi. But unless regional partners help force his departure, he will fight to the finish – ushering in years of chaos and crisis
(The Independent) One dispiriting outcome of the Libyan uprising is that the future of Libya is decreasingly likely to be determined by Libyans. Foreign intervention is turning into an old-style imperial venture. Much the same thing happened in Iraq in 2003 and in Afghanistan in the past few years. In Iraq, the US invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, a ruler detested by most Iraqis, soon turned into what many Iraqis saw as a foreign occupation.
As in Iraq and Afghanistan, the weakness of France and Britain is their lack of a local partner who is as powerful and representative as they pretend. In the rebel capital Benghazi there is little sign of the leaders of the transitional national council, which is scarcely surprising, because so much of their time is spent in Paris and London. In Washington, the White House was a little more cautious last week when Mahmoud Jibril, the interim Libyan prime minister, and other council members came to bolster their credibility and hopefully get some financial support. More circumspectly, the Libyan rebel leaders were there to allay American suspicions that the Libyan opposition is not quite as cuddly as it claims and includes al-Qa’ida sympathisers waiting their chance to seize power.
19 May
Responsibility to protect — The lessons of Libya
Outsiders had good reason to intervene in Libya. But their cause may suffer from it
(The Economist) Both sides of the debate will eagerly cite Libya the next time mass murder seems imminent. It shows that a modest dose of air power can save lives; but also that the rhetoric of civilian protection can be stretched to justify a creeping mission. Power politics decides which lives get saved, and which policy aims triumph.
Mr Rieff decries a “two-tiered system of interveners and intervened upon”, where the “old imperial powers” make the rules. But which powers exactly? The Libyan vote passed only because non-Western Russia and China withheld their Security Council vetoes: all but unimaginable until recently. Both countries are now getting cold feet, claiming misuse of the resolution’s elastic language. For different reasons Mr Evans bemoans excess zeal too: he wants to preserve the purity of R2P, and fears an interpretation that allows for “all-out aggressive war”. A lot rides on this war—and not just for the Libyans.
ICC: Gadhafi is ordering attacks on civilians
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court alleges that Moammar Gadhafi has “personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians” since the onset of the country’s popular revolt, relying heavily on his son and brother-in-law to preserve his authority. Judges at the court must decide whether to issue warrants for the arrests of all three men on war crimes charges. BBC (5/16
Mad Dog in The Hague?
(Foreign Policy) It might seem quixotic for the International Criminal Court to indict Libya’s unrepentant leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi. But the call for justice can have a pragmatic effect too.
15 May
Gadhafi builds playground as human shield
Without an official around, people in Tripoli admit they want Gadhafi gone, writes Andrew Gilligan
(Sunday Telegraph via Ottawa Citizen) Even for a dictator, it is a cynical variant of the “human shield” gambit. On the roof of his Tripoli command bunker, Colonel Gadhafi has installed a children’s fairground.
Forty feet away from the crater made on Thursday by a NATO bomb, boys and girls played on a roundabout shaped like a giant tea set.
We had been brought deep inside Gadhafi’s leadership compound, which takes up at least a full square mile of Tripoli city centre, to witness what the regime called “NATO’s madness” in attacking women and children. But the trip succeeded only in showing that if anyone has put civilians in harm’s way, it is the Libyan government. Also near the top of the bunker, which is covered with grass, civilians have been brought to live in tents, ready to sacrifice themselves for their leader.
13 May
Twilight for Qaddafi?
(Foreign Policy) … if the liberal interventionists who got us into this war want to make their decisions look good in retrospect, they had better have a plan to ensure that political transition in Libya goes a lot more smoothly than it did in Iraq. And you know what that means, don’t you? We’ll be there for longer than you think, and at a higher cost than one might hope. But no worries; it’s not as though we have any other problems to think about (or spend money on) these days.
Balkanisation of Libya
(IPS) As the battle for Libya rages on – with the country’s economic heartland, Misurata, being the scene of some of the uprising’s fiercest fighting – experts are warning that a ‘Balkanisation’ of Libya is possible if the U.S. and NATO opt to exploit loopholes in U.N. Resolution 1973 by arming the opposition. … According to U.N. Resolution 1973, which authorised action to protect Libyan civilians, all member states must ensure strict implementation of the arms embargo established by paragraphs 9 and 10 of the previous Resolution 1970.
10 May
(Foreign Policy Morning Brief) Libya’s rebel gained territory on multiple fronts yesterday, marking a shift in the stalemate between pro-government and opposition forces. The rebels’ progress was made possible by a sustained NATO bombing campaign, which has significantly weakened the forces still loyal to Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Gadhafi regime assets to help fund Libyan rebels
The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is working with the U.S. Congress to pass a new law that would free up some $30 billion in frozen assets of the Libyan regime of Moammar Gadhafi, a portion of which would be steered to the country’s rebel movement. Talks in Rome among the Libyan international contact group yielded a temporary fund through which funds could be delivered for food, medicine, military salaries and other basic supplies — but, ostensibly, not for weapons. BBC (5/5), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (5/6)
ICC prosecutor targets Gadhafi regime
Three members of the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are being sought for arrest by the International Criminal Court for “widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population” including murder and crimes against humanity. Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo — who also is investigating alleged war crimes carried out by rebels — declined to say whether the indictments named Gadhafi. The Guardian (London) (5/4), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (5/5)
China, Russia urge Libya cease-fire
China and Russia called for increased efforts for a cease-fire and political solution to the Libyan crisis at the UN Security Council, and raised serious concerns over the scope of the NATO-led bombing campaign against targets associated with embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi. Chinese and Russian diplomats pointed to the humanitarian crisis and civilian casualties, including those in Tripoli as a result of NATO actions, as reason to increase efforts to bring an end to the fighting. Google/Agence France-Presse (5/4)
30 April
(RCI) The United Nations is withdrawing its international staff from Tripoli. The move comes after U.N. buildings and some foreign missions were targetted by crowds angered over a NATO air strike, which Libyan government officials said killed a son of Colonel Moummar Gaddafi on Saturday. The Libyan government said Saif al-Arab Gaddafi and three of Colonel Gaddafi’s grandchildren had died in a NATO attack on a villa in Tripoli. Foreign reporters were shown widespread damage to the building in the compound, but no bodies. NATO says its raid targetted a command-and-control building. NATO assumed control of the Libyan mission on March 31, under a strict U.N. mandate to protect civilians.
UN war crimes investigators begin work in Libya
UN investigators have touched down in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, to attempt to verify allegations of war crimes — torture, killings of protesters and indiscriminate shelling — carried out by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. The three investigators say they also will look into abuses that Gadhafi supporters say were committed by rebels and NATO forces. BBC (4/27 )
Walking the line on Libya aid, military operations
It would be premature for the United Nations to accept an EU offer of military escorts to protect aid workers delivering humanitarian relief to Libya, said Valerie Amos, the world body’s undersecretary-general and emergency relief coordinator. Amos is wary of blurring the distinction between aid work and military operations in the battle-scarred country. BBC (4/21)
Libya’s front-page casualties have not suffered the most tragic fate
(The Guardian) Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, the two photojournalists killed in Libya, deserve admiration – but pity is more complex
The two photographers who were killed were brave and selfless and should be honoured for that. So was the bomb disposal expert Captain Lisa Head, killed in Afghanistan the same day. I don’t want to forget that or diminish it. But all of them had better deaths, I think, than some poor bastard who just happened to be living in Misrata when a civil war broke out.
20 April
Sarkozy tells Libya rebels “We will help you”
(Reuters) France promised Libyan rebels on Wednesday it would intensify air strikes on Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and send military liaison officers to help them as fighting raged in the besieged city of Misrata.
Humanitarian aid deal reached between UN, Gadhafi
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the world body has come to an agreement with the government of Moammar Gadhafi, the embattled leader of Libya, to provide humanitarian aid in the capital, Tripoli. A Libyan spokesman added that the deal also provides for a corridor of safe passage to city of Misrata, which is under siege by forces loyal to Gadhafi, to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Google/The Associated Press (4/18)
15 April
Libya: Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy pledge to fight until Gaddafi goes
(The Telegraph) The bombing continues until Gaddafi goes
The Libyan leader will make his country a pariah state. To leave him in power would be an unconscionable betrayal
By David Cameron, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy 8:15AM BST 15 Apr 2011
Together with our Nato allies and coalition partners, the United States, France and Britain have been united at the UN Security Council, as well as the following Paris Conference, in building a broad-based coalition to respond to the crisis in Libya. We are equally united on what needs to happen to end it.
Even as we continue military operations today to protect civilians in Libya, we are determined to look to the future. We are convinced that better times lie ahead for the people of Libya, and a pathway can be forged to achieve just that.
Moussa Koussa’s departure to Doha angers Lockerbie campaigners

(The Guardian) British government accused of betrayal after allowing Libyan defector Moussa Koussa to travel to conference in Qatar
He was expected to “offer insights” in advance of the conference on Libya in the Qatari capital, being held with representatives from the Benghazi-based opposition. The UN, Arab League and EU will all be represented, as will France, Italy, Germany, Turkey and others.
11 April
African peace plan for Libya founders
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – An African plan to halt Libya’s civil war quickly foundered on Monday when fighting raged for the besieged city of Misrata and NATO refused to suspend its air campaign
Maybe the AU should sit this one out The AU faces a pretty serious credibility problem to begin with. The Libyan strongman has served as chairman of the organization and has close economic and political ties to many of its members. Moreover, Qaddafi’s pan-Africanist rhetoric is one of the things that most irks his domestic opponents.
8 April
Berlin Open to Humanitarian Involvement in Libya
(Spiegel) German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Thursday that Germany would participate in a European Union humanitarian mission should the United Nations request assistance. Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is seeking to negotiate an end to the war.
Turkey looks for way to end Libya conflict
Western military officials now believe rebels opposed to Moammar Gadhafi will be unable to defeat him even with the aid of NATO-led airstrikes. Turkey has proposed a road map to end the conflict, including a cease-fire, humanitarian corridors, a withdrawal of Gadhafi’s forces from rebel-held areas and reform, that has been presented to both rebel leadership and Libyan officials. The Guardian (London) (4/7), Reuters (4/8)
Europe won’t deal with Gadhafi
Italy has rebuffed a diplomatic overture by Moammar Gadhafi and indicated it will recognize Libyan rebel authorities as a legitimate governing force. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also said Western allies could seek to arm rebel forces as part of a United Nations resolution to protect civilians. Bloomberg Businessweek (4/5), Bloomberg (4/4)
Libya: the West’s responsibility to protect
By Rodger Shanahan
(Australian Broadcasting Coorporation) The imposition of the no-fly zone over Libya has illustrated the inability of Arab states to effectively deal with the dilemma that the UN-endorsed concept of responsibility to protect (R2P) presents.
Non-interference in the affairs of other Arab states has been the mantra often quoted but not always observed in recent years, but when sovereignty is considered a privilege and not a right as the concept of R2P dictates, the current political upheavals across the region have presented the Arab states with a dilemma that they have been reluctantly, and selectively, forced to address.
Lysiane Gagnon: Who are these Libyan rebels?
(Globe & Mail) The U.S. Congressional Research Service, as well as the United Nations, have identified the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was founded in the 1990s by Libyans who’d fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, as an affiliate of al-Qaeda. In February, jihadists formed the Libyan Islamic Movement for Change.
Last month, the Transitional National Council, the group formed by the anti-Gadhafi rebels during the uprising of 2011, was endorsed by Abu Yahya, a Libyan-born al-Qaeda official (and alleged member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group), who broadcast a video message urging the Benghazi rebels to continue the fight for the establishment of an Islamic regime.
3 April
Libyan official in Greece for talks
Libya’s deputy foreign minister tells Greek prime minister Tripoli wants to end the fighting.
(Al Jazeera) “It seems that the Libyan authorities are seeking a solution,” Dimitris Droutsas, the Greek foreign minister, said. He added that Obeidi planned to travel on to Malta and Turkey. Obeidi crossed into neighbouring Tunisia and travelled from Djerba airport to the Greek capital on Sunday.
Libyan rebel efforts frustrated by internal disputes over leadership
(The Guardian) Libya’s revolutionary leadership is split over competing claims to command its armed campaign as the rebels attempt to shore up their credibility in the west after losing almost all the territory gained by foreign air strikes.
The dispute comes as the military leadership continues to struggle with the lack of discipline that has been so damaging to its campaign and which led to the death of 13 rebel fighters and medics at the weekend after one of them indiscriminately fired an anti-aircraft gun and provoked a western air strike. Four vehicles were destroyed including an ambulance.
Libya rebels battle Gaddafi forces in oil town
(Reuters) The fighting in Brega has gone on for four days, with the rebels holding ground after beating a chaotic retreat from near Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte more than 300 km to the west.
The rebel leadership has sought to break the stalemate by deploying heavier weapons and a firmer line of command.
They have also sought to keep the less disciplined volunteers, and journalists, several kilometres (miles) east of the front line.
1 April
One reason Qaddafi might fold
The Libyan elite that forms the backbone of Mr Qaddafi’s regime [… is …] very different from the people who form the backbone of, say, the Iranian or Yemeni regimes. The governing and business elites of Libya (and in all likelihood as in most commodities-based developing countries it’s basically the same people) want to own condos in Monaco and send their kids to the London School of Economics. If Muammar Qaddafi’s regime survives, they won’t be able to do that anymore. They’ll lose their Netherlands-based holding companies, they’ll be blocked by no-fly lists when they try to disembark in Paris, and their bank accounts in Frankfurt will remain frozen. These concerns don’t matter much to clerics in Qom, which is partly why the Iranian government is not likely to be terribly vulnerable to economic sanctions; for all its faults, it’s unfortunately stable because it’s based on a genuine grassroots revolutionary movement. The Libyan regime is more of a corrupt consumerist kleptocracy. For the moment, that makes me cautiously optimistic about the chances of a rapid departure for Mr Qaddafi.
Philosophes sans frontières
(FT) It is a story straight from a Bond film. A man on a top-secret mission seeks a taxi to sneak across the Libyan border. Finding no willing drivers, he commandeers a vegetable truck and races through the desert for a clandestine tête-à-tête with the rebels. Yet this is no super-spy but the dapper philosophe and soi-disant diplomat, Bernard-Henri Lévy.
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s deployment of “BHL” was a further coup de théâtre for France’s most telegenic Left Bank intellectual. But as the west ties itself in knots over the limits of its UN resolution, his gambit also provides clear justification for escalating the only truly Gallic military doctrine: liberal philosophical intervention.
31 March
Most high-level Libyan officials trying to defect‎, diplomat says
(Globe & Mail) Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy U.N. ambassador, told The Associated Press that Libya’s UN mission, which now totally supports the opposition, knew two days in advance that Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa planned to defect on Wednesday. “We know that most of the high Libyan officials are trying to defect, but most of them are under tight security measures and they cannot leave the country, but we are sure that many of them will benefit from the first chance to be out of the country and to defect.”
A New Taliban in Libya?
(Gateway House) The fundamental problem when supporting an anti-regime opposition is to ascertain the identity and purpose of the rebels. It is a question –which M.D. Nalapat discovers –is never asked by the United States, no stranger to shoring up rebels in far-off countries. We believe this assessment to be inaccurate. The hesitation of President Obama to become involved in the Libyan uprising was clearly influenced by the question “who are these guys?” Furthermore, the comment (below) from the Economist of the same date would indicate a lack of discipline that it would be surprising Al Qaeda would tolerate
“There is still no sign that the rebels have a proper chain of command. Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, a former general who has returned from exile in the United States, is their commander-in-chief, with Colonel Qaddafi’s former interior minister, Abdel Fatah Younis, as his chief of staff. But the units of the regular army that defected seem to have stayed largely out of the fray, leaving the fighting to untrained youths. Time after time, they have rushed frantically along the main roads, only to run into ambushes laid by the colonel’s snipers dug into the roadside. Inexperienced rebels have shot up their own cars with anti-aircraft fire. Full of bravado, young farmers in straw hats vow to defy Colonel Qaddafi’s Grad rockets, but as soon as any start landing nearby they flee.”
29 March
World powers agree to set up contact group to map out Libya’s future
World leaders meeting in London have agreed to to set up a contact group to lead international efforts to map out Libya’s future, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has said.
24 March
The United States and its allies explore legal case for arming the Libyan rebels
(Foreign Policy) In the rush to curtail Muammar al-Qaddafi’s military capacity to attack civilians in Libya, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on February 26 to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Libya. But the measure also unwittingly impeded the effort of the Western-backed rebels to fight Qaddafi’s forces.
Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970 required all U.N. members to “immediately take the necessary measures” to bar the sale, supply or transfer of weapons, mercenaries, or other supplies to Libya. The arms embargo, which was adopted before the rebels had emerged as a potential threat to the regime, included no exemptions for Qaddafi’s foes.
22 March
African Union at a Loss Over Libya
(IPS) Before the Mar. 17 resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya was passed, the African Union was conspicuous by its silence on the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi which began a month ago. Gaddafi’s forces are accused of indiscriminate attacks on civilians that have claimed hundreds of lives.
But in a statement released Mar. 20, the day after international military action began, the ad-hoc High Level AU Panel on Libya said it opposed any foreign military intervention in Libya.
Dr Paul-Simon Handy, Director of Research at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies says where there is no strong voice from a relevant regional body, it is difficult for the AU to take a firm position. “In the case of Côte d’Ivoire, the body relied on the Economic Community of West African States for decisive action and leadership. We are not hearing that from North Africa.”
Kenyan political analyst and blogger Onyango Oloo is less generous. “The AU is only as good as its membership and for us to expect a progressive response from it is… ambitious,” he told IPS over the phone from Nairobi.
21 March
Analysis: Recent history points to host of Libya war risks
(Reuters) – Foreign powers attacking Libya may hope air and missile strikes alone will topple Muammar Gaddafi and perhaps usher in democracy — but recent history suggests they could be in for a long and complex engagement.
Air strikes aimed at halting ethnic violence had only limited effect in achieving their goals in Bosnia and Kosovo until backed with the threat of effective ground action or at least the deployment of well-armed peacekeepers.
In Afghanistan, an air campaign and special forces support was enough to oust the Taliban from power after the September 11, 2001, attacks — but that war is far from over a decade on with thousands of NATO troops battling an ongoing insurgency.
In Iraq, more than a decade of sanctions, a no-fly zone and repeated bouts of air strikes that followed the end of the 1991 war helped Kurdish regions remain largely free from Saddam Hussein but otherwise allowed
20 March
Libya’s Opposition Leadership Comes into Focus
(Stratfor) The structure through which the Libyan opposition is represented is formally known as the Interim Transitional National Council, more commonly referred to as the Transitional National Council (TNC). The first man to announce its creation was former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who defected from the government Feb. 21, and declared the establishment of a “transitional government” Feb. 26. At the time, Abdel-Jalil claimed that it would give way to national elections within three months, though this was clearly never a realistic goal.
18 March
UN orders air strikes against Gaddafi
Security council finally takes a stand – now dictator awaits the onslaught
(The Independent) The text of the UN document was supported by 10 countries and was pushed in particular by Britain, the US and France. Among five nations that abstained were Russia and China. The resolution, which became politically viable only after the US earlier this week shifted its position to support it, aims to stop and reverse the recent gains made by Gaddafi’s forces and prevent the overrunning and likely massacre of rebels and ordinary citizens in Benghazi.
Colonel Gaddafi had earlier issued a chilling warning that suggested his determination to break the rebellion would not be broken by the threat of international action. “We are coming tonight,” he said. “Prepare yourselves… we will find you in your closets.”
While the resolution authorises a coalition of countries, which will include participation by some Arab nations, to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, it also expressly rules out a “foreign occupation of any form on any part of Libyan territory”. Separately, US officials confirmed that the action in Libya would do whatever is necessary short of “boots on the ground”.
17 March
BP’s contracts in Libya ‘still valid’ despite turmoil
Oil major BP said it views its contract with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) as still valid, despite unrest in the country. Aren’t we happy to hear that!
15 March
Japan, the Persian Gulf and Energy
Over the past week, everything seemed to converge on energy. The unrest in the Persian Gulf raised the specter of the disruption of oil supplies to the rest of the world, and an earthquake in Japan knocked out a string of nuclear reactors with potentially devastating effect. Japan depends on nuclear energy and it depends on the Persian Gulf, which is where it gets most of its oil.
14 March
Thousands of Africans, Asians fleeing fighting in Libya go home broke, vowing not to return
Huddling in a sand-swept Tunisian transit camp near the border with Libya, laborers said they were often cheated by their Libyan bosses even before they were stripped of their remaining cash on their way out of the country.
Those at Shousha Camp are among hundreds of thousands of foreign workers believed to have left Libya since the start of the uprising against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi a month ago.
12 March
Arab League Endorses No-Flight Zone Over Libya

The extraordinary move by the 22-nation bloc — an extremely rare invitation for Western military forces on Arab territory — increases the pressure on the Obama administration, which has been reluctant to intervene in a war that could turn out to be prolonged and complex.
However, by inviting the West to take such action, it also clears the way for the United States and Europe to press for a strong Security Council resolution and to counter the objections of China and Russia, which traditionally oppose foreign intervention in a country’s internal disputes.
Arab League Gathers in Cairo to Discuss ‘Several Options’ to Libya Crisis
(Bloomberg) The Arab League will discuss “several options” to halt the burgeoning civil war in Libya including a proposed no-fly zone.
Representatives from the Libyan opposition met with the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa to ask that their demands be heard.
10 March
The battle for Libya: The colonel fights back
Colonel Muammar Qaddafi is trying to tighten his grip on the west, while the rebels’ inexperience leaves them vulnerable in the east
AU expresses “deep concern” at Libya violence amid criticism on timid response
The African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Friday expressed “deep concern” at the events in Libya as observers raised questions on the body’s slow and reserved response to the crisis in the North African country.
5 March
Ban Ki-moon to appoint former Jordanian foreign minister as special envoy for Libya

(Foreign Policy) The move clearly shows the convergence of U.S. and U.N. efforts to help bring about an end of Qaddafi’s 41-year rule in Libya. It appears unlikely that Ban will seek to promote mediation efforts between Qaddafi’s government and anti-government rebels. Ban and the United States have questioned Qaddafi’s right to rule. “In Libya, a regime that has lost legitimacy has declared war on its own people,” Ban said last week during a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. “It is up to us, the community of nations, to stand against this crime.”
3 March
Why Did Qaddafi’s Son Thank Joseph Nye in His Thesis?
( According to Mother Jones, Nye was one of a handful of heavyweight academics who traveled to Libya in connection with the Monitor Group, which was working under a $3 million dollar-per-year contract with Libya. Mother Jones has obtained internal documents allegedly from the Monitor Group stating that the project was to “enhance the profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi.” Nye came back and penned an article about his experiences in the New Republic, that while noted that he had traveled to Libya “at the invitation of the Monitor Group, a consulting company that is helping Libya open itself to the global economy,” failed to disclose his role as a paid consultant of the firm.
2 March
Qaddafi’s Libya: from pariah state to U.N. luminary and back again
(Foreign Policy) In the past week, Tripoli has been sanctioned in the U.N. Security Council, suspended as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and its ruling family is subject to an investigation by the International Criminal Court. Even the country’s own diplomats don’t want to have anything to do with the regime.
But it hasn’t always been like that.
Until Muammar al-Qaddafi initiated an ongoing bloody crackdown against a nationwide series of protests, putting his own 41-year rule into jeopardy, Libya had been enjoying its status as a sort of United Nations all-star.
1 March
LSE investigates Gaddafi son plagiarism claims
The London School of Economics today confirmed it is investigating claims that Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif, plagiarised his PhD thesis.
26 February
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: The new face of Libyan defiance
Colonel Gaddafi’s son was educated in London and has friends in the City and Westminster. Or he did until last week
23 February
The UN’s duty to Libyans
The United Nations’ statement on Libya was completely inadequate. Gaddafi needs a tough resolution ringing in his ears
(The Guardian) Several days after the Gaddafi regime began attacking its own people, the UN Security Council, relaxed and refreshed from its long weekend (the UN was on holiday on Monday), met on Tuesday afternoon to issue its weakest form of expression: a press statement. That statement condemned the violence, demanded that civilians be protected, and – almost laughably – called for political dialogue. It was, of course, lowest common denominator stuff.
Inside Libya’s first free city: jubilation fails to hide deep wounds
The first foreign journalist to reach Benghazi sees how Muammar Gaddafi’s bid to cling to power has failed
(The Guardian) At the heart of the city where he launched his rise to power, Muammar Gaddafi’s indignity is now complete. In little more than three days of rampage, the rebels in Libya’s second city have done their best to wind the clock back 42 years – to life before the dictator they loathe.
Benghazi has fallen and Gaddafi’s bid to cling on to power, whatever the cost, has crumbled with it. There is barely a trace of him now, except for obscene graffiti that mocks him on the dust-strewn walls where his portraits used to hang.
Gaddafi ordered Lockerbie bombing – ex-minister
Recently resigned justice minister tells Swedish paper Libyan leader was personally responsible for downing of Pan Am 103
21 February
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: LSE-educated man the west can no longer deal with
University distances itself from Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who had role in nuclear talks and release of Megrahi
(The Guardian) As state security forces were reported to be firing relentlessly into crowds of civilian protesters on Monday, and with Gaddafi Jr appearing on television to threaten a civil war in which the regime “will fight to the last minute, until the last bullet”, many of his erstwhile associates were questioning their friendships with him.


2 Comments on "Libya 2011 – 2015"

  1. David T. Jones March 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm ·

    Following comments were published in the 28 March edition of Hill Times; in case you missed them, hope they will be of interest. DTJ

    Thinking about Libya: Qadaffi/Khadafi/Gaddafi/Gadhafi, or Just Plain ‘Daffy’?
    What many observers seem to have forgotten is that Gaddafi is a revolutionary. Not a monarch. Not a stooge of the national military establishment. And certainly not a believer in democratic rule-of-law, League of Women Voters rights and freedoms.

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—For more than four decades the colonel has run Libya. And over these years, he slowly shape-shifted from a comprehensively documented vicious terrorist to something of a figure of fun, who fulminated (to no effect on topics of no interest), demonstrated an Africa-size ego suggesting that he should rule the continent, and was accompanied in public by a “nurse” more pneumatic than former Foreign Affairs minister Maxim Bernier’s memorable companion.
    But scratch the court jester posturing on the international stage in absurd sartorial attire and you still find the ruthless, canny, and charismatic dictator with a lust for power—and an equally intense lust for retaining it—undiminished by the years. There are those who questioned his sanity—but never to his face. And just because someone is (or may be) crazy doesn’t make them stupid.
    There has been a puzzled air to media commentary regarding Muammar Gaddafi versus the local Libyan rebels. Why doesn’t he just steal away into the night, to some safe country expressing interest in providing him sanctuary (along with looted millions)? Why doesn’t he just leap into the dust bin of history and close the lid?
    Revolutionaries don’t quit; they die in harness.
    Full article available only to subscribers to Hill Times.

  2. S.J. Stein April 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm ·

    This article [Libyan Oil Buys Allies for Qaddafi] … is typical of the superficial, somewhat sensationalist and misleading coverage of sub-Saharan Africa that one finds in most establishment media – even including the NYT.
    My conversations with Africans indicate that for the most part they are not at all sympathetic to Qaddafi – that they find him and his problems irrelevant to their concerns and
    Yes, it’s true that several of the hotels in Bamako are owned (but not necessarily operated) by Libyan interests; yes, it’s true that Oilibya petrol stations are ubiquitous all over the continent; but this hardly ensures loyalty or even sympathy (think PetroCanada). On the other hand the big government office complex described in the article is somewhat of an embarrassment for all concerned: it is many years behind schedule and is still not complete; it was left in a half-finished, dusty and abandoned state from 2007 to 2010 due to contractual and payment conflicts between the two governments – hardly the stuff to inspire the masses.
    With respect to the Touareg Tuaregs ‘join Gaddafi’s mercenaries’ (or Tamasheq – to use the term they prefer) people, that is a different story. First of all, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Qaddafi is himself part Tamasheq – he certainly has the look of one. These nomadic people have inhabited and managed to survive in the inhospitable environment of the Sahara since Roman times. Many of them simply do not recognize the legitimacy of the various countries and boundaries that were created by various outside interests with absolutely no participation on their part and no recognition of their own existence. On top of that, for the most part they receive little or no benefit from the mining and extraction activities (uranium in Niger, gold and perhaps oil in Mali, etc.) being pursued in what they consider to be their country. Further, their ancient livelihood of escorting and protecting trans-Saharan caravans has pretty well disappeared and like many nomadic peoples around the world, they often come into conflict with sedentary agricultural populations (e.g. like the Songhay and Bambara and others along the fertile Niger River in Mali). And finally, theirs is somewhat of a warrior society where kidnapping is an ancient mode of negotiating: you capture someone from your counterpart’s family or clan and then you can sit down and bargain – or you can sell the captive as a slave. Bottom line – for many Tamasheq there is no reason why they shouldn’t do business with someone who pays them for hostages and sells them arms. They probably have no idea of the reasons behind the Libyan uprising and in any event probably consider it to be none of their business. As usual, however, the Western media assume that our concerns should be those of the rest of the world regardless of whether others benefit or not.
    As for the other Africans, 1000$/day is probably more than an individual will see in a year but in the end money will not buy loyalty and once the tide (hopefully) turns they will not stick around – especially if offered some sort of amnesty. There are plenty of stories of Africans having been treated like garbage when coming to Libya to look for work. How Qaddafi helped fuel fury toward Africans in Libya
    Samuel J. Stein
    Director General
    APA Airport Planning Associates Inc.

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